Next Gen (2018)

IMDB: [TV-PG] A friendship with a top-secret robot turns a lonely girl’s life into a thrilling adventure as they take on bullies, evil bots and a scheming madman.

Rating: [10] 💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚

What a GEM of a feature!! If you’re someone that likes a good, family movie that is heartfelt and funny then WATCH THIS! While I feel that Netflix originals can be hit or miss, it’s definitely a hit. Now, when I love a movie I have no problem – in fact a desire – to watch it again soon. I watched this late at night and the next night I put it on again to show my husband. It was such a joy to share it with him and talk about it. It feels inspired by both The Iron Giant and some comedic timing and expressions similar to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs or Paranorman. (I’m mostly working off memory of watching in a few weeks ago for this review, but it made quite an impression.)

What I Loved:
This film is beautifully designed and gave me way more feelz than expected. There’s a visually (and audibly) stunning fight set that actually brought me to tears in the way it was done. The humor is SPOT ON! There were a lot of moments that had me unexpectedly laugh. It has some fantastic comedy sidekicks that fit right in. The world and bots created are absolutely adorable. The animation and voice acting is really well done – and includes some big names!

Most importantly, the story got me. It’s a pretty classic misunderstood child/teen but the way the emotions grow felt REAL. Like, I’ve had those emotions or could at least understand them. Our characters a bit of a rebel but only to protect herself. It can take a lot to really get me to dwell on these emotions enough during a film to A) watch it again B) be moved to tears. I ran the whole spread of emotions with some beautiful – and adorable – visuals and music.

Bonus: Diverse cast voicing and characters.

What I Didn’t Love:
Again, not much to complain about. I suppose it’s that the story is still somewhat predictable. Most of the arcs I could tell where they were going. Though there were some surprises along the way and it built tension in a better way than others of the same story. Though, for a family feature these similar storylines are pretty standard.

“The more memories I make, the harder it is to choose what to forget.”

The Bully – our protagonist is plagued by a supreme school bully that feeds into some emotion and story.

Spoilers: Click to Reveal

Rather than give away everything I’ll get to my absolute favorite segment.

Our protagonist, Mai meets a secret robot, Project 77. Mai finally has a friend and partner-in-crime. However Project 77 was damaged in its (his?) escape from the lab and can only hold a certain amount in his memory. Every night he must delete the “unimportant” memories.

Project 77 then chooses to delete his core systems, including overpowered weapons to make more space for his memories. (Similar to “I am not a gun” vibes in The Iron Giant.)

When the big baddie shows up and the big fight ensues, Project 77 has to restore his core systems with a full system reboot, thus erasing his memories to regain weapon control to win the day.

A FANTASTIC fight set erupts featuring muffled/muted audio – a perfect touch – and hologram-like images as tall as buildings of Mai being erased from Project 77’s memories as he regains weapon control. The scene is stunning. I have chills thinking about it. It’s a nice contrast to have muffled audio, similar to how hearing is fuzzy when you’re focused on something intense. I almost found myself holding my breath because it felt so still but so intense at the same time. Also, since it’s animated there’s a lot of long-shots as opposed to super choppy CGI/live action blends. This scene is absolutely my favorite as we feel that emotion of giving up memories to do what you must. He’s sacrificing his life to save the world. (And there goes a tear down my cheek.)