It’s not often that you encounter a DVD whose name is the first thing that comes to mind once the credits start rolling. But with Next, which releases on DVD today, that’s exactly what you get: an experience that’ll have you saying “next, please” once the screen fades to black. With a plot that’s cool in concept but poorly executed, a DVD release such as Next had better have some good bonus features. Unfortunately, the release falters there, as well.
Next follows the story of a Las Vegas magician named Cris (played by Nicholas Cage) who has the real-life magical ability to see two minutes into the future. The only problem? Once he sneaks a peek, everything changes because he peeked. Still, the U.S. government naturally wants a piece of Cris’ psychic pie, so the FBI recruits him to discover the location of a nuclear bomb that’s recently gone missing (oops). The only downfall there is that Cris is really only interested in getting into Jessica Biel’s pants–much like any other sane man would be, if faced with this moral dilemma. And therein lies Cris’ struggle: save the world from terrorists, or try to get lucky with Biel. Talk about a dangerous game of cat and mouse.
If the plot sounds odd and messy, that’s because it largely is. The on-screen relationship between Nicholas Cage and Jessica Biel is oddly entertaining, but the amount of disbelief-suspending required to overlook the story’s numerous plot holes takes away most of the enjoyment of watching the actors’ chemistry. It’s really no wonder the movie failed to recoup its $70 million production budget. But that’s where the DVD release comes in, right? To fix that little financial problem?
In many cases, that’s correct. And that may even hold true for the Next DVD release as well, although time will have to tell. The Next DVD fails to include an audio commentary, but the number of bonus features should satiate the behind-the-scenes cravings of most DVD viewers.
First on the list is an 18-minute “Making Of” featurette called Making the Best Next Thing. Although the commentary from Cage, Biel, Julianne Moore and various staff sounds to be little more than ego strokes at times, the cast’s comments are complemented nicely with behind-the-scenes footage and movie clips to create a more-than-passable making-of feature.
The second featurette, Visualizing the Next Move, is a seven-minute discussion with the special-effects supervisor in which he covers the internal debates over using live-action effects and stuntmen versus CGI characters, as well as the incorporation of miniatures rather than “real” props and effects. Several scenes are broken down to illustrate how these internal debates unfolded, and the commentary will be solid gold for viewers who like to understand the ins and outs of visual effects decisions.
The Next Grand Idea, clocking in at nearly seven minutes, features interviews with the filmmakers as they talk about the romantic elements of Cage’s and Biel’s characters and how the decision to shoot some scenes at the Havasupai Reservation was actually brought about by a suggestion from Nicholas Cage himself. And you thought actors stopped giving meaningful feedback after Harrison Ford took George Lucas to task in Star Wars….
The final featurette, Two Minutes in the Future with Jessica Biel, is really a throw-away one, as it’s just a two-minute interview with Biel in which she talks about the things she would do if she could see into the future. Honestly, the filmmakers may as well have asked the movie lot’s caterer the same questions; this feature just feels like an excuse to give red-blooded males one more reason to gawk at Biel. Thanks, guys.
It’s ironic that the DVD release of Next features more content than the HD-DVD release, but sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction. Yet in spite of the four bonus features and faithful presentation, Next on DVD remains what it was on the big screen: an entertaining diversion if you need a quick fix, but not a movie or DVD you’d likely select intentionally over the hundreds of other choices out there.
- Overall: 7.3
- There’s nothing really special about the movie or DVD, but you could certainly do worse for a one-night rental.
— Jonas Allen