I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Next

tn_nextNEXT is a 2007 Nicolas Cage sci-fi vehicle from director Lee Tamahori (ONCE WERE WARRIORS, xXx: STATE OF THE UNION). I finally got to it because I saw that KILL THE IRISHMAN movie and liked it enough to want to look up what else Jonathan Hensleigh has been up to. He’s credited as a writer on this along with Gary Goldman (BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, TOTAL RECALL, NAVY SEALS) and Paul Bernbaum (Riptide, The A-Team, 21 Jump Street, etc.). I got a hunch which one was the primary visionary behind this, but I’m not gonna say it.

mp_nextDespite my fascination with Nic Cage, NEXT never caught my attention before. I actually wasn’t clear what it was about, and the shitty DTV-style cover doesn’t help. Maybe it’s partly the title. Not only does it not give you an indication of the movie’s content, it practically dismisses itself. Next!

I don’t think there’s any way around saying that NEXT is a bad movie, and Cage doesn’t do any mega-acting or any other impressive type of acting in it. But I absolutely recommend watching it. It’s some funny shit, never boring, constantly befuddling. I don’t know how those guys did it but they wrote a movie that’s almost ingenious in the way it breaks every common sense rule about how a story like this is supposed to work. I want to say it’s subversive, but I think that would be pushing it. I’m pretty sure it’s just stupid.

“Based” on a Philip K. Dick story about an animalistic, gold-skinned mutant in a post-apocalyptic dystopia, NEXT is the story of a Las Vegas magician named Frank Cadillac (Nicolas Cage) who has the ability to see two minutes into his future. Chased by casino security after using his powers for small-time gambling, he’s found by an FBI special agent (Julianne Moore) who knows about his skills and needs his help to track down a group of terrorists who stole a nuclear bomb and plan to detonate it in Los Angeles (a plan you know they fuckin got from BLACK DAWN).

The way his powers work is he can see up to 2 minutes into the future, and then based on what he sees he can change his mind about what he’s gonna do and then see 2 minutes into the new future created by that different decision. So the movie will have something happen and then skip back and re-do it a bunch of times in a row until he’s satisfied with the results.

Because of this gimmick the Cage and Moore characters don’t actually meet each other the first time. He only imagines them meeting and then decides not to do it. Later when they encounter each other they act like they already met, but they didn’t. That was just a possible 2-minute future that he rejected.

The other thing about seeing into the extremely near future is that, let’s say a bird is gonna shit on you, well you’ll know it and you’ll move out of the way. That doesn’t happen in the movie but it’s an example of the type of incredible power this character wields. In my opinion the movie should be called THE DODGER, because that’s mainly what he does. He dodges a whole lot of punches, bullets, rolling cars, flying objects. He uses it to weave through a casino evading all of the security guards, to walk through traffic without getting hit, to lead a SWAT team move-by-move so they can take out the bad guys without being harmed.

That’s fun and everything, but the uniquely crazy part of the movie is he’s not only dodging flying objects, he’s also dodging being a hero. When you first learn that he has this power and then learn about these terrorists you think okay, so he’s gonna use this power to stop these terrorists. No! Instead of helping he makes a run for it. Instead of coming up with a new plan for stopping the terrorists, Moore chases after him. The guy who doesn’t want to help stop the terrorists.

Moore’s superior officer points out that her plan is terrible. Her partner seems skeptical too. Her S.W.A.T. team seems annoyed. Still, all of these highly trained and experienced adult professionals spend days on a comprehensive manhunt for a 2-minute psychic instead of trying to track down the people with the nuclear god damn warhead. Since they haven’t bothered to track the terrorists they don’t notice that the fucking guys are right near them the whole time, also following Nic Cage. Why are they following him? Because they saw that the FBI was following him. So even the bad guys in this movie can’t keep their eye on the ball. All they gotta do is set off a bomb, but they get distracted chasing a small time Vegas magician, and they don’t even know why.

Usually if a movie hero has an opportunity to save millions of lives he’ll either go for it or (if he’s Snake Plissken) be forced into doing it. This guy doesn’t get forced until the last act. He passes on heroism, and instead tries to meet the hot girl he’s had visions of (Jessica Biel), then when he sees her he imagines the different ways he could hit on her and how they would all go wrong. So basically this is a movie about a psychic who won’t stop a nuclear attack and is trying to get laid.

Biel is the most innocent character. All we know about her is that she has a stalker ex-boyfriend, she doesn’t believe in fate, she teaches Native American children (probly remnants from an earlier script where those scenes had a purpose), and for some reason she’s willing to give the weirdo who got punched by her ex a ride to Flagstaff. And stay in a hotel room with him. And then sleep with him. So I gotta assume she’s an idiot too, but I kinda feel sorry for her. But it might be mainly because she’s real good looking. I apologize. But she doesn’t have the asskicking powers she had in BLADE TRINITY or even THE A-TEAM, so she spends most of the last act tied up and gagged.

Before that, 56 minutes into the movie, the poor girl finally finds out about the psychic powers and the FBI manhunt. She speaks for the audience when she says, “I don’t understand. If you can help, then why don’t you?” (His answer: “Because I can’t. I can only give them a two-minute head start.” Well then tell them that, dude! Do you realize you’re leading them on a cross country manhunt when there’s a nuclear bomb out there they should be looking for instead of your dumb ass?)

So let’s go through that again real quick. The main factions in this movie are:

1. A man with very limited psychic powers who refuses to help stop a nuclear attack on Los Angeles

2. An FBI team who know there are terrorists about to launch a nuclear attack on Los Angeles who instead choose to focus their efforts on chasing a dude who one lady believes can see two minutes into the future.

3. Psychotic terrorists on the verge of detonating a nuclear bomb who decide to first chase after a guy because they saw the FBI chasing after him

4. A lady who gives a ride to the unheroic psychic, has sex with him and then gets tied up

I think it’s also important that we discuss Julianne Moore’s plan here. Once she finally gets him late in the movie they strap him to a chair, give him some of those CLOCKWORK ORANGE eyelid holders and force him to watch the news. ‘Cause he can watch news 2 minutes in the future and then if they report a nuclear bomb going off he’ll have a 2-minute window to go find the guys I guess. Shitty plan, right?

Never fear! They have more than two minutes. See, she tells him to push his 2 minutes as far as he can, so then he’s able to see a day or so into the future. So actually it was a really good plan, to tell him to do that, and have it turn out that he never realized that yes, he can do that.

I know what you’re thinking: this sounds fucking ridiculous. But I can explain. Frank Cadillac is only his stage name, because he’s a magician. His real name is Cris Johnson. So you see, it’s all perfectly reasonable, although admittedly an unusual spelling of ‘Chris’.

At the beginning Cris narrates that he’s a magician and does some magic tricks to hide his real abilities, but why does he need to hide his abilities? Just to avoid the responsibility of helping the FBI save millions of lives? He makes his money with small bets in the casino, avoiding large bets so that he’s not detected. But why doesn’t he just get a real job? Wouldn’t being able to see the outcome of every possible action help him in pretty much any high paying job? In fact, couldn’t it help him to get the high paying job in the first place? Get him past the interview, anyway.

The movie is pretty out in the open about being stupid as shit, but then all the sudden at the end it gets lofty and (SPOILER)  let’s you imagine whether or not he’s able to stop the bomb, and how he does it. Like hey man, it’s not really about stopping the nuclear bomb, it never was. It’s about the people, man. That’s what matters. Frank Cadillac and that girl.

One part I like is when a nuclear bomb is about to go off he grabs Jessica Biel as if he’s gonna shield her from it. I don’t know man, I guess I kinda believe it though, that a man would have that instinct to grab her and protect her. I guess I would do that too. It’s still funny to see Nic Cage do it, though.

In conclusion, don’t be a loser like me and sit around for years failing to watch NEXT. Make NEXT next on your list!

the end

still_next

appendix: birth years
Nicolas Cage: 1964
Julianne Moore: 1960
Jessica Biel: 1982

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Saturday, August 13th, 2011 at 9:22 pm and is filed under Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

71 Responses to “Next”

  1. I’ll put watching it high on my to-do list…any thoughts on Zandalee, Vern?

  2. I’m not generally one to gossip, but this might give you some insight into the madness of this film and Hollywood as a whole; Tamahori was arrested only a few days before this project was to begin production.

    “Why,” you ask?

    Well, he was caught in a prostitution sting.

    “That’s not too surprising, what about Hugh Grant and Eddie Murphy and Charlie Sheen and a host of other famous actors, writers and directors,” you say?

    He wasn’t caught picking up a hooker, he was caught hanging around on a street corner in Hollywood, dressed in drag and selling 10 dollar blow jobs.* Seriously. I’m not even making this up.

    He still had a job directing an $80,000,000 film come Monday.

    Even stranger, Tamahori inserted a subplot into his new film, The Devil’s Double about Saddam Hussein’s son playing bottom to a transsexual. There is no evidence of this in the real history, as far as I know.

    *I do not know how much a blow job costs or how much a blow job costs from a crossdresser, but considering that I DO know what Tamohari looks like, and he obviously wasn’t doing it for the cash, I’m betting the pricing structure was probably very reasonable.

  3. This movie and Knowing would make a great chapter for some Cageology.

  4. Weirdly, I thought his xXx movie was far less laden with homoerotic subtext than the original.

    Also, for the record, I’m not posting this to diss Tamahori. He has directed several movies that I think are excellent and I think it’s awesome that he can be an open kink and not find himself marginalized.

  5. I already loved Next for being super retarded, but you just opened up several other levels of retardation that I hadn’t even considered! Great work, Vern!

  6. I remember it being one of those movies that only look senseless on the outside, but actually make sense, if you put all the small puzzle pieces together. Unfortunately I can’t remember the puzzle pieces and therefore can’t tell you how it makes sense.

    Anyway, I also thought the script was meant to be a TV pilot and when they turned it into a movie, they didn’t bother with changing anything, including giving Peter Falk’s character something to do.

  7. boy was I was surprised to see a review of this pop up, I figured the world had pretty much forgotten about this flick

    and is it me or Lee Tamahori an awful director? other than maybe that son of Saddam flick (which I haven’t seen yet) it seems like all he directs are awful action flicks

    he also sounds like the kinda guy that probably puts hidden cameras in his male star’s dressing rooms

  8. Oooh, do John Woo’s Paycheck next. It’s another PKD adaptation with Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman. It’s a bit more faithful to the original story but still crap.

    @Tawdry Hepburn Latif Yahia is full of shit, so Tamahori adding some of his own fantasies to the Devil’s Double doesn’t change much. See http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/2011/aug/13/devils-double-tangled-tale

  9. I read an early draft of this (back when it was still THE GILDEN MAN) and it was pretty good. Most of the film was Cage on the run because he kept seeing this future where he’s taken prisoner by the government and forced to watch television news (on a drip) 24 hours a day, for the rest of his life.

    The terrorist plot only comes into focus near the end, which made the main character’s arc/decision to actually help the FBI more meaningful.

    PS – in a shameless plug, I made a short movie with a vaguely (VERY vaguely) similar premise… http://www.twopointfivebillion.com.

  10. *GOLDEN MAN, even.

  11. Tamahari actually freely admits that they made up pretty much ALL of the plot details in The Devil’s Double.

    Also, Once Were Soldiers, The Edge (MAMET!) and Devil’s Double are all quite good. Tamahori is a journeyman who brings things in on time, on budget and listens to studio notes, but he can make a damn fine film.

  12. or he can make extremely stupid shit

  13. Jam – wow, you’re telling me this could have once actually have been an interesting movie? too bad…

  14. I liked this.

    No, it’s not BLADE RUNNER or MINORITY REPORT as far as PKD adaptations go, but there’s enough weird, offbeat shit in there that kept me entertained. The hilariously mismatched Cage/Biel romance, the always reliable Cage hair, the cheap-but-fun-twist etc. etc.

    I definitely thought I got my rental money’s worth. Probably will never watch it again, but I’m glad it’s a movie that exists.

  15. So glad for the rant on the whole idea of pursuing someone who can see two minutes into the future as a means to stop a nuclear bomb. So weird.
    The tediousness of rewatching the same situation with a new twist beat me down so much the first time (or series of times) it happened (I think in the diner scene where he meets the hot girl) that after that I just had to embrace the crazy. But my arms would not reach around the crazy. The threat of the final twist of seeing a whole day or whatever into the future made me so afraid they were going to jump back and reshow another whole version of the last hour of the movie. Mercifully, the credits rolled. Oh, I get it now, it’s a Philip K. Dick story, it all makes sense.
    Thanks for reminding me it still doesn’t.
    Also, wasn’t this the RUN, LOLA, RUN story, except without the pink hair, nuclear bomb, and Vegas magicianry?

  16. Great review Vern. I just looked 48 hours into my future and saw me enjoying what sounds like a ridiculously hilarious muddled mess of a film.

    Jam, that sounds like it could have made the movie better and given Cage a reason to run from the government and not help. It would make sense that Cage doges responsibility if he can see the price it will cost him. That would make for a much more interesting character and film.

  17. I often feel obligated to watch any PKD adaptation, so I saw this a year or so, but somehow I forgot about its existence until now. The worst part of the movie was the fact that the last section is basically a variation on the whole “it was all a dream” trick kids do when they first start writing stories.

    Also, there is very little that connects it to the original short story (although I believe in the original short story the golden mutant does use his abilities to see into the future in order to seduce women [PKD, you are a perv]). But if the film is so disconnected from the original story, I wonder why they even advertize it as a PKD adaptation? I mean, there can’t be that many people out there who figure they’ll check out a movie because its based on work by some author (except for myself, of course).

    I do think that the PKD film adaptation is becoming something of a subgenre of film. They all try to go for cerebral twists, but more often achieve sub-moronic twists. Even if the film has little to do with the PKD source material, you already have a sense of what the film will try to do.

  18. someone should make a list of movies that fit this description:

    1. gifted rising director, usually foreign +
    2. philip k dick idea (because it has cachet)/ derivative sci fi idea (usually involving time travel or superpowers) +
    3. exquisite acting talent, utterly wasted +
    4. the mediocrity mongers of hollywood that make it all happen =

    crap movie and burnt out/ destroyed careers

    i can also think of “paycheck”, that john woo/ ben affleck p.o.s., or “the one”, james wong/ jet li

  19. There’s always BLADE RUNNER, MINORITY REPORT and TOTAL RECALL.

    No one really adapts Philip K. Dick. Everyone just takes some basic concept he writes about and just run with it to whatever direction they want. I guess it boils down to the people making the films.

    Sometimes they make all the right and inspired choices and end up with a BLADE RUNNER. Other times, they make all the boneheaded one and are left with PAYCHECK. In either case, there’s not much PKD in there.

    But I find them all interesting to watch nevertheless.

  20. I like PKD, but his stories are at times kind of sloppy (which, strangely enough, makes me love his work even more). He wrote an incredible amount during his lifetime because Sci-Fi writers made virtually no money. I love the fact that PKD melds grand, philosophical science fiction concepts with B-movie plots. He’s the best of both worlds, the high and the low. Because of this, his stories can’t really be translated to film directly, but I’m okay with people who just want to steal the kernel of his idea and run with it. A Scanner Darkly might be the most faithful PKD adaptation, while Total Recall might capture the feel of his writing the best.

  21. A Scanner Darkly is pretty amazing.

  22. it is pretty fascinating how a schizophrenic sci fi author who thought he was talking to God (or something like that) is so popular with Hollywood these days

  23. I think “The Edge” is Tamahori’s best film, hands down. It’s sort of like Mamet channeling Jack London. “What man can do, another can do! Say it!”

  24. I don’t know that I’m with you on this one Vern, this was so bland and toneless that I couldn’t really get into it, and when it ended up being all a dream (everything with that kind of ending should be spoiled to save people the disappointment, so: nothing after a certain point in this movie happens at all) it got a firm placement in the worthless pile of my brain. I’m sure it’s better than Transformers, but I don’t watch Transformers anyway so that’s not a plus for me. It barely explores its interesting power.

    I do wonder, though. The dude dies every time he barely dodges a log or bullet. Does he see or experience anything when dead? I can just see him filling out forms at Heaven’s gates telling Peter “Man, I’ve seen you five hundred times today, I’m just going to change things so I don’t fall into that giant blender” and Peter is all “YOU MUST FOLLOW PROCEDURE!”

  25. You had me at the cover art. Seriously. Bluetones with orange explosion, Nic Cage’s face overlaid over Jessica Biel’s cleavage, and Julianne Moore looking lost? I’m there.

    I’m interested in this one though because I have literally zero recollection of it coming out. Was it THAT obscure?

    And Phillip K. Dick is the kind of “concept” writer that you can milk for ideas pretty for years and still not even come close to running out. Although the results have been mixed, to say the least.

  26. Burton:

    Not every “It was all a dream” movie has to suck. The Matrix? Inception? The Never Ending Story? Wizard of Oz? Cabinet of Dr. Caligari?

  27. Philip K Dick was a great “idea man” who was a horrible, amateurish writer. His short stories usually have one clever (and sometimes flat out brilliant) idea surrounded by the most awful crap you’ve ever read. This is why people don’t even attempt to adapt his stuff directly, it would sound like a high school kid wrote your movie.

    Sounds like they had some other high school kid do the rewrite this time…

  28. I read The Man In The High Castle by Philip K Dick and I wouldn’t describe it as feeling like a “high school kid” wrote it, it was pretty good actually

    the best part of the novel is *mild spoiler warning* when a Japanese characters almost reaches enlightenment, the way Dick wrote it was really well done

  29. Wasn’t it weird how Nic Cage kept shaving in Act One of this? What the hell was that about?

  30. Stephenie Meyer is a horrible, amateurish writer. Philip K. Dick, not so much. His writing was very plain and unadorned, which I guess a lot of people confuse for “bad.” Funny how they never bother posting any examples of the writing they find so terrible.

    As for Next, I actually kind of liked the scene where Nic Cage uses his ability to see into the future to evade the security guards in the casino, but another Philip K. Dick movie, Minority Report, had an identical scene that was much better. It’s a much better movie overall, too.

    I also liked the phony ending before the real ending. Cage yells “I made a mistake!” and they all get blown to hell by the nuclear bomb. The whole movie would have been redeemed if it had ended right there. But then he wakes up and we see that the entire second half of the movie was just him looking into the future. Eat me, Next.

  31. The whole time reading this review I was just thinking about what movie Vern is going to review next. I hope it’s Tactical Force.

  32. rainman — I completely disagree that Dick is a bad writer. Like Craig says, his writing is hardly flowery, but his books have a wonderful minimalist build to them which makes them uniquely enjoyable and makes his ideas all the more engrossing. If you want to see him try something a little stylistically bold, check out the awesomely weird “Radio Free Albemuth” which bizarrely changes narrators a few times in a disorienting but interesting way. I defy anyone to read that an call him an amateur, or even unambitious, wordsmith.

  33. Isn’t this the start of the “Cage as seer of the future with once visionary director, leading to mediocre result subgenre” ?
    Tamahori gave us the epic Once Were Warriors (as a Kiwi, this is enormously culturally relevant, capturing the brutal realities of South Auckland, with enough visual flair to make it palatable to white audiences (i.e. me). )
    Alex Proyas gave us the grossly underestimated Dark City.

    And then they met Nicolas Cage.

    Neither movie, I might add, brought out the mega in him.

  34. I love Next. I thought it was fun each time Nic tried new options with his power. His hair blows in the wind real good when he’s running down the hill.

    I never really thought of the sense making of it all. I just assumed because it was a movie that of course the government wanted him but of course you can’t turn your power over to the government and then you get caught in a rock slide.

    Nicolas Cage did this movie because he wanted to play a magician, something he’s get to do better in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. I love the reasons he does movies. He may not always get what he wants, but his motivation is noble.

  35. Tawdry, Neverending Story was NOT all a dream. Bastian named the Childlike Empress Moonchild and then got to ride Falkor and fuck up those bullies. What are you trying to do to me here, man?

  36. rainman – I’ve got to concur with my colleagues: Only an amateur would call Dick an “amateur” writer.

    I think what strikes me about Dick is how he asks a provocative question and would throw a wrench into the obvious implications, which made it all more the thoughtful. and without being pretentious in his thematic explorations.

    Consider “Second Variety,” which got adapted into the Peter Weller movie SCREAMERS. Warring human factions being decimated by their own killer robots is good sci-fi fare, but then Dick twists the knife by the cynical ending conclusion that the robots were themselves evolving in fighting each other. Which was lost in the movie, to say the least.

    The term used today would be “high concept artistry,” but that’s a highbrow insult if you ask me. He just had some awesome ideas and plot points, whether the feature film execution can pull it off or not, thats a whole other thing.

    In short, for whatever reason I keep thinking of Larry Cohen whenever Dick comes up.

    The funny irony, already brought up, was Dick was respected in his lifetime by the sci-fi literary field and by nerds (back when nerds actually read books/stories that didn’t involve fan fiction or expanded universe, etc.), but never was a celebrity like Asimov or Heinlein or Bradbury or such brand-name guys that were on TV or however.

    Yet now Dick I’m certain has gotten more movies adapted from his catalogue than all those legends combined. He’s probably in fact the most successful sci-fi writer in Hollywood history. And to be fair, Dick before he died predicted that BLADE RUNNER would become fucking BLADE RUNNER, if it simply took several years before that prophecy came true.

    (Speaking of which, ADJUSTMENT BUREAU itself had a bullshit ending if you asked me. The story was good, but Dick usually didn’t have to worry about plot and character in his short stories, since you know they were short stories.)

  37. I also request a review of Tactical Force, Vern – Steve Austin and MJW fighting side by side in a pretty decent DTV.

  38. I heard that was terrible.

    Real interested in how the new Conan movie will be like this week.

  39. Marcus Nispel directed it. How do you think it will be?

  40. (That came across kinda rude. Sorry.)

  41. PKD did a metric fuckton of crystal meth every morning whether he needed it or not. He believed the government was breaking into his house and bugging his phone calls — and turned out to be right! He believed “The Man Who Fell To Earth” was a documentary and David Bowie was an alien — and turned out, again, to be right! He may well have been ten feet tall and used a satellite dish as a frying pan for giant pancakes. Who can say?

    Someday they’ll make a good serious straightforward movie adaptation of Man In The High Castle, possibly starring Ralph Fiennes and Ken Watanabe, and I can die happy.

  42. I got a little rule of thumb: When your best movie is the fucking TEXAS CHAINSAW remake, you get cut off.

    It’s not applicable to many situations but it can occasionally be a big help.

  43. RRA: “Dick twists the knife by the cynical ending conclusion that the robots were themselves evolving in fighting each other. Which was lost in the movie, to say the least.”

    It did actually make it into the movie, but as an afterthought. It’s a good example of Dick’s writing getting chewed up by filmmakers. His best ideas just sort of find their way into the films accidentally, like when Peter Weller makes an offhand remark about how the androids are “coming up in the world” because they’re learning to kill each other.

    Gilmore: “PKD did a metric fuckton of crystal meth every morning whether he needed it or not.”

    Dick didn’t do crystal meth, he did legal amphetamines to stay awake. This idea that his writing is so bizarre because he was doing lots of crazy drugs is a myth. The most fucked up artists in the world always make their fucked up art when they’re sober.

    As for Conan, all I have to say is: Marcus Nispel.

  44. Mr. Majestyk, what is this TCM remake of which you speak? That sounds like the worst movie ever made were it to exist, but fortunately it does not exist, right?

  45. Yeah, what a forgettable movie. I’ve never seen Once Were Warriors, but Tamahori’s Bond movie is my least favorite of all of them, and I hated XXX2 and Along Came a Spider. The fact that the climactic nuclear explosion was GIVEN AWAY in every trailer/commercial for the movie made it even more of a chore to sit through (especially because we knew it would all be a dream, because it’s not like they’re really going to end the movie that way)

    The only memorable things were: 1) Moore practicing the close-quarters shooting at the range. I wonder what kind of range lets you plug a target from like 2 feet away? and 2) I did laugh out loud that Cage used his powers at the end to spot the snipers/shooters and warn Moore where they were, but blatantly let a whole bunch of good cops and SWAT team members get blown away, like he didn’t feel it was worth rewinding time to save them.

  46. Fred: Were this supposed CHAINSAW remake to exist, I think it would be actually kind of good at the beginning, with a very tense scenario created by an imaginative twist on the hitchhiker scene from the original. I also think it would then become a badly lit, by-the-numbers studio stalk-and-slash affair once it got down to business. If this movie existed (and this is purely a hypothetical, mind you) I think I wouldn’t have particularly hated it at the time of its release (I’m postulating that this not-real movie came out in 2002 or so) because at least it was relatively brutal and serious, which set it apart from the PG-13 J-horror remakes and SIXTH SENSE knockoffs that were prevalent at the time. After nearly a decade of so-called torture porn, however, I bet that I would find little to recommend about this imaginary motion picture other than the aforementioned opening scene, which clearly came to me in a fever dream whilst zonked on Tussin one night because it clearly does not exist in the real world.

  47. On “Minority Report” – you guys know I’m on the fence about that one. To me it’s almost the quintessential Phillip K Dick movie, which means that there’s a lot good about it, but the overall product is so much less than it should have been. You could argue that about every Phillip K Dick movie ever made, up to and including Blade Runner (Vern wrote a fantastic review of this, where he really nails down what is good and bad about the movie).

  48. Minority Report is one of those movies that’s so close to being great that I want to make my own fan edit. Great chase scenes are interrupted so that Tom Cruise can crash through a window into a room full of women doing yoga in weird poses or a kid practicing his saxophone or a family arguing or whatever. The guy can’t walk five feet without bumping into bad comedy. It’s almost a Michael Bay level of action scenes sprinkled with wacky jokes.

    I also hate the ending which seems to be competing with Psycho for how overexplained an ending can be for the benefit of the people who are too stupid to follow the plot, and the overly sentimental crying when the psychic tells Tom Cruise about the life that his dead son never got to live.

    Edit this bullshit away and you’ll have gold.

  49. I also thought it didn’t make any sense at all at the end how he tells the villain “you know your own future, so you can change it”? Ummm…how exactly does he know his own future? Any more than any other pre-crime perp would have? Anderton knew his because he saw it happening when a red ball came up, the villain didn’t.

  50. I will admit, the only Philip K Dick I have read is a collection of his short stories. They were so bad that it was a chore to get through the entire book of 16 or 20 of them. It included Minority Report and a few other semi-famous ones.

    Perhaps his novels are better, but considering what I have read I am not really willing to give it much of a shot. I simply can’t excuse amateurish writing (as in plot, character development, dialogue, etc) in order to enjoy a few cool ideas. Especially if there are far better writers to choose from (Herbert, Asimov, Heinlein, Strugatsky…)

    Just my opinion and that of many others. If you don’t agree with me that doesn’t make me an “amateur” any more than it makes you one for liking his stuff. I am not going to go through my boxes of books to find his short stories and find a particularly awful piece of writing for display, because these things are in some ways subjective. You could easily argue that what I consider amateurish and clumsy is simply a sparseness of narration, characterization, and plot brilliantly weaved together to achieve the central conceit. Or whatever.

  51. Craig D. – Yeah you’re right, but that afterthought is just the fucking same as not doing it at all in my book. Its like the last HARRY POTTER movie, how many people get killed off and book moments checklisted that don’t matter to most people who don’t read the books?

    Man SCREAMERS, decent premise, decent set-up…but it fucks up the final launch. 2/3rds of a watchable movie, before it descends into another mindless ALIEN/ALIENS/Monster movie. Pity.

    rainman – I take it you don’t care for Bradbury’s writing either. Just an educated guess. Sorry if we ripped you a new asshole, but when say something sucks but don’t really put much more thought into the why exactly…well, can you blame us?

  52. It always frustrates me when there’s a story about someone with fantastic psychic/supernatural abilities who either fails to exploit them or uses them for penny ante shit. That show True Blood is one of the worst examples (I still watch it for the copious amounts of vampire fucking and people exploding into blood gelatin). The main character can read minds, which in reality would mean you could write your own ticket to any job dealing with people. Even if you didn’t want to exploit your gift for personal gain, you could become a diplomat or ambassador and get the leaders of waring nations to understand each other. Plenty of options, in other words. Instead, she’s a waitress (plus, she blows off work for weeks and months at a time, so she’s not even a good waitress). There’s this other guy who can turn into any animal on Earth. Again, a handy, multipurpose talent. He gets his money by turning into a dog and entering himself in illegal dog fights. What the fuck? He may not have a lot of imagination, but Christ, couldn’t he come up with something better than having pit bulls bite him in the ass for money? It’s like if Superman just used his heat vision to become a baker.

  53. I love Bradbury. I have read The Martian Chronicles probably 5-6 times. His writing is poetic, circular, dreamlike, moral, and deep. Yes, sometimes his prose can be a little childlike but in this case it seems apparent that he is doing it on purpose to not really disguise but rather emphasize the deeper meanings. Dick doesn’t seem to even attempt to hide any meaning in his writing, or do anything other than present his one (admittedly very good to brilliant) central idea in the most obvious and hackneyed manner possible.

    I would rather read the wikipedia article on any PKD short story / novel than have to suffer through actually reading it. However his ideas are brilliant at times, so much so that every single time I have read a short story that I knew what was going to happen beforehand (because it was famous or at least somewhat well-known) I have been disappointed with the execution of the story and it actually lowered my opinion of the man’s body of work as a whole.

    Compare this to The Martian Chronicles, or Dune, or Foundation, or even Starship Troopers, all of which I have read at least 3 times and some of them half a dozen or more.

    I take back something I said earlier – the Strugatsky brothers are also great idea men but can write some awful, typical hack science fiction at times. Their short novel Roadside Picnic (made into the movie STALKER by Tarkovsky which is very different) is a truly brilliant idea made into a very good novel, but with some absolutely terrible dialogue mixed in there which is off-putting.

    It is a problem of science fiction writers that they are often expected to present ideas above all and the writing comes a distant second.

  54. Majestyk, I believe you are still in the year 2003 and you’ve just had a vision of eight years into a future where there was a remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. You must snap back to 2003 and return to the world where that never existed!

  55. Minority Report is frustrating because it wants to ask a morally ambiguous question but totally fucks up the factors. It wants to ask: If we can prevent the crime, should we still lock up the criminal. The answer is NO! You don’t need to lock up anyone if you can prevent all crime. Even if the criminal would be a repeat offender, you have a system that prevents ALL crime! You would never, ever have to take anyone out of society, because you would just stop them from ever hurting anybody. Plus, most people won’t even try again. The film even says all premeditation is gone, the only crimes that happen are crimes of passion.

    And then their only punishment is permanent cryogenic freezing, “haloing.” Since when is the only punishment for any crime being totally frozen and stored in a chamber? Even many murderers get less than life prison sentences, but in any event don’t get effectively executed. And in a world where so much crime has been prevented, the prisons must have plenty of room. So, the morally ambiguous question, should we punish potential criminals extremely? NO. It just doesn’t make sense. It wouldn’t make sense for a convicted criminal, so why would it make sense for a theoretical one!

    Minority Report had some good action I remember enjoying in the middle section when Colin Farrell was chasing him. It’s just so infuriating though and they don’t even know how to resolve it. It was a conspiracy, they got the bad guy, whatever…

  56. Fred– fine, YOU tell Max Von Sydow that he’s wrong. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

  57. It might have been more interesting if they had gone with a sorta Kafka-esque “prison” system where you’re given a ring around your neck that basically removes your rights and privileges as a human and more or less forces you into menial labor, in spite of the fact that your uncommitted crime would have been a crime of passion, but since it was stopped you will very possibly know what would have incited you to kill in the first place.

  58. Rainman

    Have to disagree with the PKD opinion. I always found him to be accessible and humane – probably the most humane writer of any kind of fiction I can think of. Crazed ideas but he was all about people. Bradbury, too, really. Herbert started great but tailed off (although I love God Emperor for some reason). Science fiction is such a good way of exploring people, I guess.

    But this movie blows. It is so many dimensions of dumb, but it would make an excellent double feature with KNOWING.

    THE EDGE however, was fantastic. Well done, cop-bothering Lee Tamahori.

  59. Fred Topel

    Best bit in MINORITY REPORT – Colin Farrell in the lift with Tom Cruise saying he won’t kill him because it hasn’t been predicted by the precogs, when the red ball alarm goes off and his face turns sick.

  60. The trailer for this movie has got to be one of the worst I’ve ever seen. I don’t remember any specifics but I do remember laughing out loud watching Nic Cage dodging a bullet in slow mo. I’m tempted to watch this in the hope its so bad its funny but I have a feeling its probably just bad. And what is it with Jessica Biel and bad movies? I really don’t think she’s a bad actress but god her movies suck. Its getting to the point where if I see her name in the credits, I automatically start to get worried.

  61. Fred Topel – while I kinda agree with some of what you’re saying (although why not the Halo, as opposed to anything else, if all you’re looking to do is remove a person from society without killing them?) that’s not what irritated me about “Minority Report”. What irritated me about “Minority Report” – as with so many science fiction films that got it wrong – is the faith aspect.

    Y’see, the concept of an overarching surveillance society, where everybody is tracked and labelled by everyone from law enforcement to marketers, is a great one. And if they’d created a society where, for example, computers trained to compute everything from a person’s gait and facial expression to their hormonal imbalances as an indicator of whether or not they’d become violent, then I’d be totally on board with the film’s concept.

    Instead, in a society built completely on science and surveillance, the major crime-fighting tool of the 22nd century, or whenever the hell it was set, is… get ready for letdown… three psychics in a swimming pool. All that data-mining, all that information processing, but fuck that, let’s just bring the psychics in. Yeah.

    I mean seriously. What the FUCK were they thinking? This is like having a cowboy film set in the 1800s and introducing giant robotic spiders into the mix. (Come to think of it, one film did do that. And look how well that one turned out.) Let us list the cop-outs here.

    1) Having the “predictors” be human beings, instead of autonomous machines, means that the moral “thrust” of the film can easily be diverted from the critical and interesting questions centred on universal surveillance, and onto the unnecessary question of how well you treat your swimming-pool-based psychic. Because that’s a question that needs answering.

    2) Bringing in the supernatural provides an easy, convenient way to discredit the “predictors” that wouldn’t be as easily established if the predictors were machines, thereby giving an easy moral answer to the question: “but what if it worked?”

    3) And don’t get me started on the way this wrecks the main premise of the story. Y’know how in “Equilibrium”, as flawed as it was, the protagonist went on a journey from being an integral part of the system to the destroyer of it (at least in intent)? Well, yeah, you better forget any hope of that happening here. Cruise’s character doesn’t change or learn anything. Yes, he ends up “disproving” the psychics (but see point one, above) but only because he’s forced to by the main bad guy. He doesn’t demonstrate the moral corruption of the system he’s previously supported, he shows a technical flaw in it. And even that makes no sense (if the psychics are able to see planned murders far in advance, and Cruise isn’t the one who planned the murder, why is it his name that’s appearing on the ball?)

    Look, I could go on and on here, but my point is that “Minority Report” went from being a potentially brilliant film to a massive missed opportunity the second they decided to bring psychics into the mix. I’m sure there have been worse decisions made about films, but this one was pretty damn bad.

  62. look guys, the story of Minority Report may or may not hold up to scrutiny, but there’s no denying that it’s a fun, well made action sci fi movie, it might even be my favorite Spielberg movie of the 2000’s (although after re-watching AI recently I think I changed my mind)

  63. Mr Paul, I think there are two different types of people: those that enjoy Contact and those that get bothered by the aliens using an image of her father to convey the message. I think Minority Report and AI and a few other movies are similar in that if you can look past the silly trappings that you have an interesting film. Not everyone can do that, but yeah.

  64. Also, someone mentioned Knowing and I have a lot of love for that film. The early scenes are insane because Nic Cage is constantly drinking but the movie never focuses on it or anything. It then has a lot of Nic Cage mega acting and a few scenes that are pretty terrifying. Man, I really do love that film.

  65. Paul, I completely agree. It should have been technology. By making it psychics it also rendered the whole question “What if we could do this?” moot, because there are only three of them. So it works in D.C., but what’s going on in the rest of the world where they have regular old crime, not precrime? But, for the D.C. in which it takes place, or a hypothetical world in which every city had a pregoc…

    But why not the halo? Because once you remove all crime from the equation, there’s no REASON to even detain someone. ANYTHING they could possibly ever think about doing… it will be prevented by this flawless system. I mean, what’s the biggest strain on this society, a cop has to go prevent a crime? There are no crime scenes to clean up, no detective work, just every once in a while they stop a crime of passion, which are now the ONLY crimes even attempted.

    If you can prevent crime, you don’t even have to ask the follow-up question “What do we do with the potential criminals?” THEY NO LONGER EXIST. THERE’S NO CRIME! It’s not a nit pick. They were so gung ho on speculating a moral question, they forgot to set up an actual moral question.

    Also, haloing? Of course that’s wrong. A large contingent of people already oppose the death penalty, you’re telling me that in the future they’re okay with haloing?

    I watched it recently too and the action doesn’t hold up. Cruise jumping on CG cars, meh.

  66. My brother’s name is Cris. It’s short for Crispin.

  67. Casey – the reason I’m more frustrated with this film is that I think it had the potential to be great. The world that these guys live in is shown in great detail, and it’s really well portrayed. The scene in the shopping mall – great scene. And plot holes don’t bother me (heck, look at “Dark Knight”, one of my favorite films of its year. There are plot holes in that that you could drive a horse and cart through.) There’s a LOT that I love about “Minority Report”, which annoys me all the more because of its one glaringly obvious flaw that could – hell, should – have been removed. But that one flaw just completely blunts the impact of the film.

    Bringing the psychics in diverts the moral thrust of the film into something infinitely less interesting and ruins the character arc of the protagonist (somebody here made the point about how Sydney is a “passive” heroine who doesn’t drive the plot at all in Scream 4, which applies equally to Cruise’s character; heck, his WIFE has more to do with the eventual denouement than he does). They evade the question of whether the system itself is corrupt, which in turn means that Cruise’s character never really changes or learns anything. So the guy who’s the focal point of the whole thing is a non-character and a nonentity.

    It’s not Cruise’s fault (look at the original “Mission: Impossible” for one of the best “straight protagonists” ever, right up there with Jeff Bridges in “The Thing”.) I’m not a Cruise-hater, I think he’s done excellent work in a lot of films that I like. But this film gives him nothing to do.

  68. Interesting read, both the review and the comments. Just a quick correction to Zombie Paul’s post though… it was Kurt Russell in The Thing (Not Bridges).

    Thinking about it, I probably didn’t really need to point that out but I’m here now so….

  69. I seem to remember Johnny Mnemonic (sp?) to be quite similar to the source.. we all know how that one turned out though and I could be waaay off as it’s been a while. Keanu’s “Take that baldy” pay off line and his “I Want Room Service!” bit are both priceless imo.

    Ooh, Takeshi Kitano and his laser whip thing was pretty cool and I vaguely remember Lundgren too as some crazy preacher guy. Oh wait, yeah… Dolphins, it’s all coming back now.

  70. That makes sense, Paul. I’ve just known a lot of people who are unable to enjoy a movie because of a silly premise. Usually these silly premises just exist to get the story and themes going but for some people it’s just too much. I’ve seen it most happen with Contact.

    Johnny Mnemonic should have been an awesome movie. I can remember so many parts of it that it always seems really cool when I think about it. Then I rewatch it and it’s a total chore to sit through.

  71. Vern, the best part of this movie is when Nicholas Cage visits Jessica Biel’s school, and there is this shot of him staring at Jessica from a distance as the camera pans away. The look on his face LOL! No, I take that back. The best part of this movie is Nic’s hair, which might even top Tom Hanks’ hairstyle in The Da Vinci Code. I love this movie, and I have to admit to having an odd facination as well with Nic Cage. He clearly has talent ( Raising Arizona, Bad Lieutenant), but we are going to be seeing a whole lot of these type of movies now that he is broke. In some instances, that might not necessarily be a bad thing LOL!

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