Next Gen (film)
Next Gen is a 2018 Chinese-Canadian-American computer-animated science fiction action film directed by Kevin R. Adams and Joe Ksander. The film stars the voices of John Krasinski, Charlyne Yi, Jason Sudeikis, Michael Peña, David Cross and Constance Wu. It tells the story of Mai Su, a lonely teenage girl living in a world where sentient robots are commonplace, who, after a chance encounter with a top-secret robot known as 7723, must form an unlikely bond to put an end to a vicious threat. The film was released on Netflix on September 7, 2018.
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In the futuristic city of Grainland where robots are ubiquitous, rebellious teenager Mai Su resents robots. Ever since her father left the family, her mother Molly has filled the void with robots, causing Mai to feel unloved.
When mother and daughter attend a product launch at IQ Robotics, Mai wanders off and stumbles upon a secret lab belonging to Dr. Tanner Rice, who's been working on a battle robot called 7723. Mai accidentally activates 7723, but is quickly apprehended by security and reunited with her mother. At the launch, Justin Pin, CEO of IQ robotics, unveils the next generation of Q-Bots to the public with the promise to put "one in every home". Accompanied by his robot bodyguard Ares, Pin leaves to meet with Rice at the assembly line, who expresses safety concerns about the q-bots, but Pin believes they are ready. Meanwhile, 7723 leaves the lab to find Mai, but causes an altercation when the police try to apprehend him. The situation escalates when he obliviously activates his weapon systems, causing the police force to use deadly force in return, blowing him off the freeway and down into the lower city. When he awakens later, he finds that his memory core was damaged in the fall, compromising his ability to store memories in the long term.
The next day at school, Mai gets into a fight with some bullies, who sic their q-bots on her. She comes home with a black eye to her mother's shock, but the two's strained relationship prevents any meaningful discussion. Later that night when Mai goes outside to check on her dog, she finds 7723 in her backyard, and though she initially tries to dissuade him, she becomes fascinated by his weapon systems and lets him stay in the garage. 7723 reviews his memory bank and decides which memories to delete in order to make room for more.
The next day, Mai confronts her school bullies with 7723 at her side, who destroys the bullies' q-bots. The two then embark on a string of shenanigans and vandalism across the city, but as 7723 accumulates more memories, he struggles to choose which ones are worth keeping. When Mai confronts him about it, he reveals that if he reaches full capacity, he will undergo a total system reset and lose all of his memories. Mai suggests that he could delete his core systems to make more room, but 7723 warns that he would lose functionality.
Frustrated by Rice's secrets and the fact that 7723 is still on the loose, Pin threatens Rice, who promises to find 7723 by tapping into the feed of Q-Bots across the city. Meanwhile, 7723 is growing increasingly apprehensive about using his abilities toward destructive ends, which comes to a head when Mai, in a fit of rage, tells him to hurt her bullies. The two have an argument and later, 7723 deletes his weapon systems. He finds Mai and after accidentally bringing up memories of her father, promises not to let her down again. They return home to find Dr. Rice waiting for them, who explains that he built 7723 to stop an upcoming crisis, but Pin and Ares appear. Though Rice tries to appeal to Pin, his former friend reveals his plan to kill them and unleashes Ares. Unable to fight back without his weapon systems, 7723 is unable to stop Pin from kidnapping Molly and flees with Mai, who then accuses him of caring more about his memories than her mother's life.
Mai storms off to assault IQ Robotics on her own, but 7723 soon arrives and two make up. They find Dr. Rice, who says they need to stop Ares, but before he can say much more, Pin appears and kills him. Mai then realizes that Pin's mannerisms mimic Ares' and the truth is revealed: Ares killed Pin and has been using his body as a bionic puppet. When Pin made him, he told him to make the world "perfect", which he believes will only happen when humanity is extinct. The battle is taken to a nearby sports stadium, and with his cover now exposed, Ares begins to detonate the Q-Bots then calls in an armored assault rig and begins to overpower 7723. Unable to stop him, 7723 makes the decision to reboot his systems, restoring his weapons and beginning the process of wiping his memories. He shares one last goodbye with Mai then battles Ares on equal footing. After an arduous battle, his system reboot completes before he can deliver the final blow to Ares, becoming inert. Ares then attempts to destroy the vulnerable 7723, but Mai saves him and decapitates Ares. 7723 re-activates but does not recognize Mai.
When life returns to normal, 7723 and Mai are making new memories together and are finally accepted by the community.
- John Krasinski as 7723 (credited as "Project 77")
- Charlyne Yi as Mai Su, Molly's daughter
- Jason Sudeikis as Justin Pin / Ares
- Michael Peña as Momo, Mai's dog
- David Cross as Dr. Tanner Rice / Q-Bots
- Constance Wu as Molly Su, Mai's mom
- Kiana Ledé as Greenwood
- Anna Akana as Ani
- Kitana Turnbull as RJ
- Jet Jurgensmeyer as Junior
- Issac Ryan Brow as Ric
- Betsy Sodaro as Gate
In May 2018, it was announced that Netflix had purchased worldwide rights to Next Gen, an animated film directed by Kevin R. Adams and Joe Ksander, for $30 million. The deal excluded China. Charlyne Yi, Jason Sudeikis, Michael Peña, David Cross, Kitana Turnbull and Constance Wu would lead the voice cast.
Regarding the project being acquired by Netflix, Ksander stated:
Buying the film for the price they [Netflix] did was great for everybody involved, but more importantly, they've been a partner who's been really supportive of what we were trying to do.
R. Adams added that:
Studios weren't sure how it [Next Gen] fit an animated children's film with Marvel-like action. Netflix was the most generous and they're in a place where they can take a risk.
Next Gen has received positive to mixed reviews. In Richard Roeper's review for the Chicago Sun Times, he criticized the film's indecisiveness in what audience it was aiming for and said "It's a chore just to keep up with all the shifts in tone, and by the time Next Gen reaches the finish line, we're more exhausted than exhilarated."
However, Joel Keller of Decider found no major problems to prevent the films enjoyment writing, "Our Call: STREAM IT. Great voice performances, some funny moments, and a central relationship that will immediately suck you in make NextGen a fun watch for the entire family."
- "Netflix Buys Animated Film 'Next Gen' for $30 Million". 11 May 2018.
- Jr, Mike Fleming (11 May 2018). "Netflix Makes $30M Worldwide Rights Deal For Animated 'Next Gen' – Cannes".
- Setoodeh, Ramin (11 May 2018). "Cannes: Netflix Buys Animated Robot Movie 'Next Gen' for $30 Million Worldwide Deal".
- 'Next Gen': Netflix's $30-Million Animated Pickup Taps the Sentient Robot Zeitgeist
- ""Next Gen" - Blender Production by Tangent Animation soon on Netflix! - BlenderNation". BlenderNation. 2018-08-20. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
- "Next Gen". Netflix. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
- Roeper, Richard (September 7, 2018). "'Next Gen' overloads its animated robots with too many shifts in plot and tone". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
- Keller, Joel (September 7, 2018). "Stream It Or Skip It: 'Next Gen' On Netflix, About A Lonely Girl And The Robot Who Becomes Her Best Friend". Decider. Retrieved September 14, 2018.