Next Gen (2018)
What a gorgeous disaster! A nicely animated adventure, stuffed to the gills with ideas, with seemingly no idea how to put them all together. Netflix’s latest is a hodgepodge of badly conceived motivations, a confusing narrative, and even poor voice work.
Charlyne Yi plays Mai, who finds a top-secret robot and for, ‘reasons,’ the robot wakes up and starts following her around like a little lost puppy. This robot was invented by Steve Woznick Dr. Tanner Rice (voiced by David Cross) who works for Steve Jobs Justin Pin (voiced by Jason Sudekis). Dr. Rise builds the “loyal as a puppy” killing machine when he learns of Justin’s plans to put one of their company’s Gen 6 robots in every home, and then use them to destroy humanity. Because, you know, humanity is all stupid and stuff.
In amongst that tried and true (read: tired) plot, is Mai’s issues at home with an inattentive mom, an absentee dad, and bullying at school. A set of threads given very little time to breathe in amongst the pretty light show. Mai, once realizing her new robot has weapons, immediately turns the tables on her school tormentors, until she predictably goes too far and becomes what she hates. Sigh…
Next Gen, shoots through the predictable arcs of its characters, giving you the viewer very little backstory, and then plays catch up during the closing moments of the film. Steve Jobs Justin Pin’s nefarious plan and back story only really come into focus during the last act, and Mai’s mother, Molly (voiced by Constance Wu) resolves all her issues during a rambling minute long speech during the finale.
This is an over-stuffed production with a great computer animation and design team. Its character’s motivations don’t ring true most of the time, or simply make no sense. This film will likely entertain less discerning children with it’s fun robot designs and action. I did laugh out loud during Mai’s epic battle with her robot toothbrush. And since it’s on Netflix and not in theaters, parental guidance is optional.
Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Michael Peña, David Cross, Charlyne Yi, Constance Wu
Directed by: Kevin R. Adams, Joe Ksander
Written by: Kevin R. Adams, Joe Ksander
Rating: TV-PG Running Time: 1 hr 30 min.