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Sunday, 19 December 2010

Next: Review (Plus introduction message for all you perverts out there).

Now, I’m not judging you. I’m pleased about the increased traffic coming to this site. Really, I am. I went from averaging 1,700 - 2,000 views per month over the last quarter to over 4,000 views in the first 20 days of December, and I am truly thankful for the support. It’s just that, well, I get a little concerned when I go to check my traffic sources, and see this in my ‘Search Keywords’ section for the past week:

In fact, ‘Lazy Town Porn’ has been such a popular search that it’s now ranked on the ‘All Time’ list for searches that have brought people to the site, right behind ‘Hugh Laurie’, ‘Hugh Laurie (in Russian)’, ‘Ellen Page’ and ‘Steven Seagal’.

Seriously, ‘Lazy Town Porn’ is effectively the fourth most popular search to bring people to this site, and the first time I ever mentioned Lazy Town was in the last article I posted, less than 2 weeks ago. Are there really that many people out there searching for pornographic images of a Children’s cartoon that it can get to 4th place on my All Time Keyword Searches for Traffic Sources in 2 fucking weeks? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU FUCKING PEOPLE?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know most of these people are probably just looking for a comedy video or article relating to the subject, rather than an actual porn video to get off on. But at least some of these people genuinely want to have a tug over some Lazy Town action. And that’s not right. I’ve often joked about doing various sexually deviant acts in my articles, and I suppose a guy who did a crude photoshop (read: edited in Microsoft Paint) of Hannah Montana in the bath and stated that he would shag Ellen Page in spite of the fact that this would totally make him a paedophile because she looks about 13, can’t really get all that worked up about people searching for Lazy Town porn online, but damn it, don’t bring that filth onto my site! You’re making me regret ever including that section in my Clockwork Orange post.

So, in light of this, I shall be taking the tone of this article in a very different direction. We shall not be focusing on sexually deviant acts involving young pink haired girls and guys named Sportacus, nor shall we post pictures of said people on this site ever again. In fact, from now on, we’re going to stick to doing proper, intelligent, informative reviews, with no more of this obsession with sex and stalking and other such nonsense I used to post before I found enlightenment.

Right after a discussion of Jessica Biel’s tits.

Now, I’m not the kind of guy to rate a movie based on the hotness of its female lead (which is probably technically Julianne Moore in this situation anyway). You’ll never hear me state that an otherwise crap movie was “All right – cos it’s got tits in” (hence I actually dissed ‘Shoot ‘Em Up’ a while back in spite of the fact that I know Clive Owen. And by ‘know’ I mean he borrowed my coat. Once. Years ago… for his daughter to wear), and I stick to those principles. You should never judge a movie simply on whether or not there’s a hot girl in it; otherwise you get retarded things happening like Transformers selling more copies than Reservoir Dogs (more on this in a bit). However, in this case, I feel obligated to pick up on this point, because I want to know when the fuck Jessica Biel got so damn fit!

"I think I just filled the cup."

Seriously, I saw her in things like “The Illusionist” and “Blade: Trinity” and thought she was kinda hot, but since then she seems to have grown the most amazing set of boobs ever and stolen a black woman’s butt whilst keeping her waist as thin as it ever was. What the hell? I mean, she used to be almost flat-chested as far as I remember, and now she’s… Well, she’s looking incredible. There’s some hope for Kiera Knightley yet!

Imagine that face on a womans body - Daaaaamn!!!

Now, back to what I was saying about Transformers earlier, because this is really the point I was trying to make with this: I know loads of guys who say that Megan Fox is the hottest girl in the world, and have basically only watched the Transformers movies because she was in them and they wanted to perve on her, but how can she have the title for overall sexiest woman when she doesn’t even win in her own category?

Though that's not to say I wouldn't... I SO FUCKING WOULD!

Seriously, if you split women into different categories and pick the hottest in each, you get a great way to shortlist candidates for the ‘Hottest Woman in the World’ title. So, we can have a category for very tall women, in which Anne Dudek will obviously be the winner (Although Miranda Hart is a close second, the saucy minx), and a category for Spanish women, in which Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek will have to fight it out for the top spot, and so on. But when we get to the category of “Girl of white and native American descent with tanned skin and big boobs”, does Megan Fox win it? Fuck no – Jessica Biel wins that category hands down! With Shannon Elizabeth fighting Ms Fox for 2nd place. So you see, your honour, Megan Fox cannot be the hottest woman on Earth, because I have subjectively proven that she is not even the winner of her own sub-category, and therefore cannot be nominated for the overall title. I rest my case.

Oh, and there’s that whole thumb thing too…

Someone call Shannon Elizabeth and congratulate her on second place...

So, my question is this: If guys are really only watching movies to check out hot chicks, how come almost no-one has heard of this movie?

Proper review time now.

‘Next’ is based off a book by Philip K. Dick and revolves around a magician, Frank Cadilac (Nicholas Cage) who can see 2 minutes into the future. When the FBI discover a terrorist plot to set off a nuclear bomb somewhere in California, they call up Tony Almeida and tell him to put Jack Bauer on that shit! No, just kidding, they decide to try and catch Cadilac (whose actual name is Chris Johnson or something) and force him to study some news channels in the classic Ludovico style to see if he can look far enough into the future to tell where the bomb is going to go off. Oh, and how the fuck does Tony come back in Season 7 of 24 when he CLEARLY dies in Season 5? I mean, really, that’s just retarded – he can’t have faked his own death because a terrorist he was trying to kill with a lethal injection took it off him and stabbed it in his chest, so unless 24 has the same writers as The Dark knight, I don’t see how they found a way around that (I’m on Season 6 at the moment, for the record). But, forget about 24 for now, because we’re discussing ‘Next’.

Plot wise it’s nothing special, really. We’re used to seeing films in which a main character can see the near future, and will change his actions accordingly so we get to view the reality where he does nothing and the reality where he acts on his premonition back to back (I’m thinking things like ‘Paycheck’ here). The problem with this sort of set-up is that it leaves you wondering why any of the events ever have to happen the way they do. Towards the end, we see Nick Cage search an entire building in 2 minutes, by merely playing through every possible situation in his future visions (for example, he turns left in one, then right in the other, and so on until he’s see everywhere he can possibly go in 2 minutes), and this makes you wonder why he would ask the FBI agents with him to search one of the floors, where a couple of them are killed, when he could easily have done that as well. In fact, if he can see the future, none of the agents on his side should die at any point, because he will be able to see ahead to what happens, and tell them exactly how to avoid death. There is also a scene where he effectively dodges bullets, by again playing through every reality until he finds a path he can take where the bad guy will not shoot him. If he can do that then why the hell did any agents have to go in at all? He could have done everything by himself – all the agents had to do was lock down the perimeter and send him in – not one FBI agent needed to die in the climax of this film, so we can only infer that Nick Cage is a bastard and wanted hem to die. What a dick.

I'm allowed to be a dick, I was in Wild Hogs, or something...

So, that’s one problem I find with movies like this, but taking that into account, the execution is pretty damn awesome. There are a couple of ways they show these visions Cage has, sometimes playing a possible reality in his head and following it up with what he actually does, and other times showing them all at the same time, so we see multiple versions of Cage on the screen at any given point. Both of these effects are awesome, the latter because I’ve never seen it done before in such a story, and it’s always nice to see something new, and the former because it creates the surreal situation where you’re not entirely sure whether you’re watching a premonition or reality at any given point.

The effects in the movie aren’t all that brilliant, with some of the CGI being pretty obvious. Now, if this was a low budget affair, then I’d be more than happy to overlook this, but at $70 million dollars, you think they could have done a little better. Then again, remember the effects in the last film with a $70m budget that I discussed? The ones in Next are far better than those, that’s for sure. To be honest, they’re not awful, but it just annoys me when directors insist on using CGI in films these days; like that scene in panic room where we go down through the floor and look around the ground floor of the house, and it’s all computer generated and looks shit – we liked that in Fight Club, David, because the point of Fight Club was that we were watching a movie, but that doesn’t mean it’ll work in every film you do! Go back to making Alien 3 or whatever it is you do

The acting in Next isn’t too shoddy, and most of the characters are fairly believable, to the extent they can be in an action movie. Nicholas Cage is, of course, playing Nicholas Cage, but then again, if you’re watching a film with him in then this is exactly what you expect. No-one watches a Seagal film expecting to see Seagal play any character other than the one he plays in every film he’s ever made, and likewise, you can always count on Nick Cage to be Nick Cage. Thomas Kretschmann puts in an appearance too, which is always a pleasant surprise. I first saw him act in the German language film “Downfall” (“Der Untergang”), and saw him turn up in a couple of things after (Blade 2, 24, Flashforward), but his performance in Rohtenburg (“Grimm Love” in the UK) as, essentially, Armin Mewes, cemented him in my brain as one of the great character actors of our generation, even if his talents are for the most part wasted in films like this and “Wanted”. To be able to take what was essentially bound to be a steaming turd of a movie, given it was a low budget horror by the director of the remake of “The Hills Have Eyes 2”, and turn it into a film where you genuinely cared about the two main characters and could really believe their relationship, impressed me greatly, and so Kretschmann and Thomas Huber have earned a certain amount of respect from me for that (Keri Russell didn’t impress me so much, but then again, she and Madeleine Stowe turned in such great performances in ‘We Were Soldiers’ that she could have starred in nothing else but post-Scary Movie Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer movies, and I’d still have to concede she can act.) As for the other parts in Next, Julianne Moore and Jessica Biel essentially play exactly the characters you expect them to be – it’s nothing special, but it’s not dire, either. It’s just the female roles in an action movie is all. Justice from Get Rich or Die tryin’ puts in a performance too, but again, this is a very standard affair. In fact, across the board, the acting is simply on a par with your typical action movie. Not great, but watchable.

What really makes this movie is the ending, which, as you have already guessed is a twist. What else would you expect from a movie based on source material by Philip K. Dick. As far as I’m aware, Paycheck is literally the only movie based on a story by him that doesn’t have a twist ending. I mean, we could call Philip K. Dick the Christopher Nolan of the Sci-Fi novel world: A Scanner Darkly, Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report ALL have twist endings (although whilst discussing Inception I got in an argument with one of my brother’s friends who would not accept that it’s entirely possible the last part of Minority Report is in Tom Cruise’s head as he’s held in the mind prison, just like some people still don’t get that in Total Recall when he says “I just had a horrible thought – what if this is all just a dream” that’s a pretty fucking big clue that it may all be a dream, even if you hadn’t already guessed it by then). Whilst this has nothing on the ending of A Scanner Darkly, which is genuinely one of the best endings I’ve seen in a long time, I still really enjoyed the twist at the end of Next, and feel that it is worth watching simply to see this.

The only other thing I really wanted to pick up on about the ending is that it is left a little too open. I liked the openness of the end, but at the same time, would have quite liked it if we could have found out why the terrorists were planning the attack in the first place. I get why we don't find this out, but it's just one of those things you like to know when watching a film. Then again, Philip K. Dick loves to fuck with everyone and not reveal everything, so I guess we can't really ask for a definitive reason behind the actions of the characters (think about Blade Runner - I watched the Directors cut, but apparently in the original there is a voice over which implies the lead replicant guy helped Deckard up at the end for a completely different reason, and apparently it doesn't fit so well with his dying monologue. This means there are two different interpretations available to explain why he acted as he did, just as there are two arguments about Deckard and his heritage, if you know what I'm talking about...)

That’s about it for this review, since I didn’t particularly notice the score (which, depending on the intention of the composers, could either mean it did its job perfectly or didn’t work very well at all), so I’ll just leave you with this: It’s an action film starring Nicholas Cage based on a Sci-fi book. If that sounds like the sort of thing you would like, you’ll love it. If that sounds like a heap of shit to you, then you’ll hate it. It is exactly what you expect it to be. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s no Blade Runner. It’s no “A Scanner Darkly”. But it is a decent action flick, and worth a watch if you’re a fan of Mr Coppola (not Francis-Ford).



3 stars

A fairly enjoyable sci-fi action film with some fairly decent action and a relatively intelligent script behind it. Not Earth shattering by anyone’s standards, but certainly more acceptable to watch in public than Lazy Town Porn, no matter what your friends think of Nick Cage.


Just jumping back to Blade: Trinity for a second – has everyone heard Ryan Reynolds is single again? Sounds like my Christmas Wish is coming true ;)


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