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'Next Gen' Movie Review

My Personal Review of the Netflix Published Animated Feature

A Teaser Image Showing Mai (Voiced by Charlyne Yi) and Project 77 (John Krasinski)

In a (not quite so) futuristic society, robots are involved in every facet of life. From being toothbrushes with aggressive parental settings to cups of noodles that dance when they are hot and ready to be eaten—they even dispose of themselves in the garbage! Despite all this luxury and convenience, the viewer often feels something is missing, and Mai shows us that things aren't really as good as many believe.

Spoiler-Free Review

     

That should say "mostly spoiler-free" because there is some backstory established within the first five minutes of the movie that's very necessary. Mai is a teenage girl who, since her father is no longer around, has taken to rebelling, and it doesn't help that she hates robots in a world where robots seem to outnumber humans five to one.

Mai meets Project 77 who, through a series of events, changes Mai's mind about robots. Things escalate in the world around them even as Mai and 77 have their own private, personal, and emotional journeys, exploring memories, trust, and other such themes.

The visualizations are fantastic, and the happy, whimsical style adds to the artistic direction. The visuals are topnotch and what one would come to expect from something published by Netflix.

The music is fantastic with choices such as "Rebel Girl" by Bikini Kill, "All Out of Love" by Air Supply, and I enjoyed "Clay" by Grace VanderWaal.

There's a great choice of voice actors as well. Krazinksi (77), Yi (Mai), Jason Sudeikis, Michael Peña, and David Cross nail their lines with a joyful vitality that really brings the story to life.

I recommend this movie for teens, or parents and kids with some guidance. The action is, of course, simulated, but their is some bleeped out language mostly by Peña's character.

Full Review Setup

Mai sees herself as inherently broken and alone, with a father who left and an absent mother distracted by robots. The movie makes use of this at just about every turn with Mai always saying outlandish things to her mother for attention, and her mother always responding with a variation of, "Oh that's nice."

Mai's mother drags her along to the reveal of a new robot, the IQ robot gen six, being presented by a handsome young Steve Jobs-esque entrepreneur named Justin Pin (Jason Sudeikis). During this time, Mai sneaks away and, through serendipity, is responsible for turning on Project 77. In one of their first moments together, Mai calls him a stupid robot, but accidentally leaves her backpack as she attempts to evade "police robots." Project 77 then attempts to return her backpack.

Mai and her mother leave with the gen six robot (without her backpack) and Project 77 chases them down the freeway to return it. Being unauthorized to be on the freeway, police robots attempt to contain 77, who produces guns and missiles, wiping out the police. Eventually, he evades them, but in the process damages his memory unit, stating he only has 70 some hours to live, unless he deletes memory as it accrues.

Full Review Conclusion

When 77 meets Mai, he only has memories of her. He gets more and more, but doesn't understand the pain she has in relation to her own memories. Even her calling him a stupid robot when they first meet holds significance to him. They grow attached to each other, despite the selfish behavior Mai continues to exhibit.

This changes to a degree when Justin Pin reveals himself as the villain of the movie, in fact, being no more than a puppet controlled by another robot named Ares—a giant hulk of steel with gatling gun arms, plenty of missiles, and even a "Tesla Cannon" (he shouts the name of it when he attacks, dramatically).

Before the big first confrontation though, 77 deletes his weapon systems, not wanting to delete any more memories he and Mai have made together, and deciding that the weapons held less value. The weapons can only be restored through a full reset, which would wipe all the memories he had made since his initial booting up.

In the final confrontation with Ares, 77 calls himself a stupid robot, making the epiphany that he can always make new memories (with Mai), but not if she dies. He initiates the reset, and as his weapons come online one at a time, we're treated to an epic battle between 77 and Ares; while in the background, and for brief interruptions, we see special memories of Mai dissolve. The music playing is soft and calm, which balances out the over-the-top action.

In the end, they defeat Ares, and 77's memory is completely erased. He even asks Mai's name again as he comes online (for the second time), but they end the movie happily with Mai reteaching him things they bonded over in the first place.

Verdict

Most sites put this movie right around the 6.5/10 range, but I feel the cast, world, and comedy demand a higher score. The story may be a little trite, but they executed it well.

8/10


If you are looking for another Netflix movie, perhaps The Guardian Brothers?