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Poor Philip K. Dick, between Next and Paycheck; Hollywood owes him a million apologies. Both of these films should have his name forcibly removed. There's no way they can credit these sci-fi abortions to the genius of his mind. Of course there's been some good films based on his books as well; Blade Runner being the best, and Minority Report and Total Recall being worthy as well. But you won't find anything near the quality of those films here.

Next is exactly the kind of film I hate most. They get good actors like Nicolas Cage and Julianne Moore, but the script is so horrible, they don't bother to do any sort of emoting beyond remembering their dialogue. It's an obvious paycheck movie for both of them. (You could say that Cage has done that for his last 10 or so.) They have a 100 million dollar budget, but the effects are terrible. The direction is lazy; there's no spark to be found anywhere in this film. It doesn't know what kind of film it wants to be; cheesy fun or serious action film, it just sags uselessly somewhere in between.

Cage plays Cage, this time with long greasy hair and the ability to see a few seconds into the future. Julianne is a FBI agent, who is desperately trying to find him, so he can help her stop a nuclear attack. Why she's wasting so much time and man-power trying to find this guy, instead of the actual terrorists never makes a lick of sense. He can only see a few seconds into the future, it's not like he's all knowing; his skill wouldn't come in handy, except for a lame scapegoat of an excuse thrown in by the 12th screenwriter at the last second.

There's a neat bit at the beginning of the film, where Cage escapes a Vegas casino, by using his gift to avoid the cameras and security-guards after him, by ducking behind people and slot-machines at just the right second. It's the only half-way inspired scene in the whole film. Then there's this whole contrived love story between him and Jessica Biel, who offers nothing here beyond something pretty to look at. I never bought into the FBI tracking him, that wastes a good portion of the film. The nuclear attack happens near the very end of the film, and is taken care of very shoddily.

Next is the perfect example of a soulless Hollywood production. It doesn't seem like anybody put any effort into this. Usually the effects for these big budget films are at least fun to watch, but here they're really terrible, they look like they were done 15 years ago. Cage keeps escaping everything; trains, cars, bullets, logs, at the last possible second and there's not an ounce of tension built because it all looks so cartoony.

I'm mostly disappointed in where Nicolas Cage has taken his career. Does he really need more money? He used to be one of my favorite actors, making brave choices, really throwing himself into every role. But since The Rock, he plays the same guy in every film and does these really worthless action flicks over and over. He's had a few brief departures in The Weatherman and World Trade Center, but if I have to watch him escape another digital-fireball, I think I'll puke.

"Next" Trailer

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