- BOTTOM LINE
- Unique Premise Undone by Childish Execution
Action, Drama, Sci-Fi,
What is the Story about?
We’re at Grainland, a fictitious city set in the future, where technology and robotics are incredibly intertwined with the lives of its residents. The plot takes us to a mother-daughter duo, Molly and Mai, who are going through a pressing phase in their lives after Molly’s husband leaves the house. Molly tries to make use of technology to fill her personal void while Mai remains neglected. At a robot-product launch held at the headquarters of IQ Robotics, Mai accidentally lands up at the lab of scientist Dr. Rice, where he’s giving final touches to the secretive robot 7723, supposedly created for the betterment of humankind. Mai playfully activates it, only to create chaos in the city and surprisingly forge an unlikely bond with the robot.
The computer-generated animation sequences are no cartoons here; they score in terms of aesthetics and the technical team deserves credit in weaving an identity to the characters alike any live-action film. The voices too shape the characters well. Among all, the performance by the child protagonist Mai stays in our minds long after the movie and Charlyne Yi, the voice behind this character, is in tune with the emotional turbulence of Mai. The other characters dubbed by the likes of John Krasinski, Jason Sudeikis, Michael Peña, David Cross and several voice-artistes are a handful with their dubbing. With the distinct visual histrionics of the various roles, we certainly relate to them well.
Direction By Kevin R. Adams, Joe Ksander?
Jointly directed by Kevin R. Adams, Joe Ksander, Next Gen (partially inspired by Big Hero 6) is hampered by a jerky narrative that lacks any cohesion. Although it has a promising story, nothing of it is translated into innovative execution. The futuristic setup of a city where humans find it difficult to imagine an existence beyond technology makes for an interesting premise, but the detailing is largely absent. The director-duo could have so much more homework in depicting the defining characteristics of the robots than merely stationing them as security guards, bodyguards at organizations besides indulging them in some soccer and baseball activity.
The film more or less underlines the essence of most sci-fi films and doesn’t say anything new, i.e. sending a caution signal that our blunt dependence on technology would take us nowhere. The directors miss a thing or two also in establishing the equation between Mai and her mother Molly and the absence of their emotional connection. What works is the characterization of Mai, the portrayal of her anxiety and the shifting temperaments as a teenager. The camaraderie between the 7723 robots and Mai is also an interesting dimension to the movie. The surprise twist to the identity of Justin Pin, the business honcho at a robotics firm, tries to salvage the final portions.
Next Gen’s issue isn’t about the individual sequences, but their integration into a film. Next Gen struggles to stick to the sci-fi genre, shifts its loyalties from a technologically-driven premise to a plot involving humor, drama, and action, a cocktail that goes for a toss. The directors’ intention of catering to a pre-teen audience is noticeable, though that doesn’t mean they dumb down the content to simplify the narrative.
Music and other departments?
The role of music in ensuring an adrenaline rush is invaluable in films and Next Gen’s team haven’t taken that aspect seriously at all. Everything about the musical score in Next Gen is perfunctory. Samuel Jones and Alexis Marsh also compose two songs that find a place in the narrative, providing some musical relief from the otherwise tense proceedings. Visually, Next Gen is among the finest animation films produced in a long time. The visual behaviour of the characters is very impressive, so are the efforts of the team in building a futuristic city with a lot of imagination. The editing feels choppy at times and the inconsistent tone deters the movie watching experience.
Well crafted visuals
Unnecessary simplification of technology and jargon
Will you recommend it?
Next Gen Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur