+ Recommended – TV-PG, Animated, Adventure (106 minutes)
There is a reason it took me so long to come out with this review. I hear you, “Riley,” you whisper, “this movie came out a month ago. Where have you been?” And I have your answers. Jared and I watched this movie almost two weeks ago. I even did a Stardust reaction for it! The fact of the matter though, is that I was a little disappointed. Next Gen was really hyped up for me and I sat down expecting to have my socks blown off. However, my feet remained toasty as my socks stayed firmly in place. Let’s start with the premise:
Mai (Charlyne Yi) is a young girl dealing with left over rage after the unexpected death of her father. She has grown up in a world being steadily taken over by automated robots and she is not having it. She struggles to receive any sort of attention, whether it’s at school where she is taught by the teacher’s Q-Bot or at home, where her mother spends most of her time in VR with her Q-Bot. Mai’s only companion is a hard-headed pup named Momo. Then, she meets Project 77 (John Krasinski). Together, they go about righting some of the wrongs against Mai, but also begin to create some wrongs themselves.
In theory and even for a lot of the film, this is a super cute premise. The main issue that I ran into was actually the lack of story. We are given little to no background or expositional focus on our main characters and there are only two of them. I was missing a lot of the emotional ties I needed to feel bad about the things that were messing up our heroes’ plans. Animation relies really strongly on proper storytelling and scene building (as it should) and there wasn’t enough of an original story here for me to care. The animation was beautiful and transitions were seamless, but it might as well have been a short film for the amount of information we were given.
If you’re looking for an animated movie with complex characters and a heart wrenching plot, go check out Big Hero 6. If you’re looking for cute character designs, great voicework, and a funky soundtrack- you can have an enjoyable time with this film, it’s just not anywhere near as good as it could have been. Have you watched Next Gen? How do you think it compares to something like Big Hero 6?