What does the future hold for the human race? Climate change is inevitable if we don’t change our ways, but Donald Trump will never change his mind. However, writer-director’s Kevin R. Adams & Joe Ksander have decided to take a different route, they’ve created a world in which has been taken over by AI technology. With robots ruling the streets, from doors to toothbrushes, everything is intelligent technology, but how accurate was their representation in this animated Netflix Original?
Next Gen follows a friendship between Mai (voiced by Charlyne Yi) and a new rogue, illegal robot named Project 77 (voiced by John Krasinski). Mai is forced to go and check out the new Q-bots, as requested by her mother, but she has grown up detesting any sort of robotic technology. Whilst on her way to the convention, she sneaks off, landing herself into a hidden lab where she finds Project 77, instantly gaining a connection. However, the creator, Dr. Tanner Rice (voiced by David Cross) is not impressed with the new creation and decides to go on a rampage to take down the illegal robot and the rest of the world. Does Mai find a new love for robots or does Dr. Tanner Rice’s plan for world domination work?
My first impression when seeing the trailer for Next Gen was ‘is this a rip-off of Big Hero 6?’ and you’d be right to think so. There are of course a few changes but the premise is all there. Nevertheless, I thought I would give it a chance to see where they were going with this friendship. From the outset, they cleverly begin by telling Mai’s backstory through a somber soundtrack and cute transitioning shots of time flying by. We work out her life up until the point where robotics have taken over the planet. We discover who Mai is right from the outset, the problem, we don’t discover much else about the other characters around her. I felt their was a lot missing in other areas in terms of character development. Yes, we discover he father left the family home when she was young, but why? There was a lot of unanswered questions, and as much as it was nice way to introduce the film, I just found myself wanting to know more throughout and lost interest at times.
I understand Kevin R. Adams and Joe Ksander have written and directed a kid’s movie here. Don’t get me wrong, this film will, no doubt, entertain your children. With the endless amounts of explosions and colourful imagery, they won’t be disappointed. However, as a 22 year old man-child, I can’t help but get bored of the narrative. The character dialogue is stale and predictable. It’s like they didn’t think about what Project 77 would say or do. They were lazy on the development front. When you watched the likes of Big Hero 6, you had feelings towards Baymax, this was ignored for the case of Project 77, they didn’t even name him! Momo the dog, I’m not sure what they were thinking in making a dog swear as much as he does but Michael Peña couldn’t have been thinking this was right. With the constant bleeping out of the swearing, it becomes rather annoying instead of a humorous anecdote.
The underlying morale of the story is clear; technology is growing rapidly and this is what the world could become. What children will take away from this is to not trust all technology and to start putting their efforts into something else, like Mai does with football. This is a positive to come out of Next Gen, but their isn’t much else to the film from a technical point of view. The story drags on and the montages along with constant explosions can only cover up so much. Kevin R. Adams & Joe Ksander’s intentions are nothing but good and to teach the younger generations different values. When push comes to shove however, I’ll be showing my kids Big Hero 6 over Next Gen.