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Animation / Next Gen

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"The most important parts of me are the memories of you. It hurts when I lose them."

Next Gen is a 2018 CG animated movie directed by Kevin R. Adams and Joe Ksander. It stars the talents of John Krasinski, Charlyne Yi, Jason Sudeikis, Michael Peña, David Cross and Constance Wu. The movie was released as a Netflix original on September 7, 2018 and was an international co-production between the United States and China.

In a futuristic metropolis called Grainland where humans and robots live in harmony, rebellious teenager Mai (who's neglected by her single mother) meets a top-secret learning android named 7723 (developed by scientist Dr. Tanner Rice), with whom she forms a friendship, in a laboratory at IQ Robotics during a product launch, and after discovering something wrong with the products presented, they must band together to stop an evil mastermind while learning to never underestimate the bittersweet power of memories.

Next Gen provides examples of:

  • Action Bomb: Ares secretly designed the gen 6 Q-Bots to overheat and explode on command, suicidally charging at any nearby human in the process.
  • Action Girl: Mai becomes this later on, gaining extra confidence thanks to 7723's kind words later on in the movie.
  • Affably Evil: The Q-Bots are programmed to be polite and affable even if they're being used to bully Mai or Kill All Humans.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Justin Pin designed Ares as the perfect robot. He immediately deemed humanity obsolete, killed Justin and secretly spoke through his body, and began plotting the extermination of humanity. Whatever Justin had in mind when he told Ares to "make the world perfect", destroying humanity was probably not it.
  • Alpha Bitch: Greenwood leads a posse of bullies. Later on, though, she reforms following Mai striking back at her too much.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version uses Dream Ami’s song “Next” as its ending theme.
  • Artificial Zombie: Justin Pin, or rather his body, is a version of this that Ares can speak through. Although he's initially better at looking, acting, and talking like a still normal human than most examples, he's devolved into a nearly classic example by the time Ares is destroyed.
  • Big Bad: Justin Pin, who is actually dead - his body is little more than a robotically enhanced puppet controlled by Ares.
  • Bully Turned Buddy: Greenwood is shown to be friends with Mai after they help save each other during Ares' attack on the stadium.
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: Mai does this on occasion when trying (and failing) to get her mother's attention, throwing in a "Molly" or two in the midst of her repeated cries of "mom".
  • Close-Call Haircut: A narrow miss by a disintegrator ray gives Greenwood a haircut instead of killing her.
  • Cluster Bleep-Bomb: Happens twice in the movie.
    • The first time is when 7723 first uses the translator on Momo. He swears on a regular basis throughout the film, but never as much as in this scene.
    • The second time is when Mai's mom stops Ares from killing Mai, flying into a parental rage. Unlike Momo's easily identifiable bleeps, Mai's mom's bleeped profanity is a bit more creative, with the only word we hear being "inbred".
  • Dark Is Evil: Ares is a pitch black robot who wants to destroy all humanity.
  • Dead All Along: Justin Pin. Ares killed him shortly after Ares’s conception, and crafted a body double in Justin’s likeness to continue the façade that was all was well with the outside world. This was a ploy to continue his plan to kill all of humanity.
  • Disappeared Dad: Mai's father is never seen after he storms off following an argument with his wife at the beginning of the movie. The beginning credits show a grave, implying he died not long after.
  • Disintegrator Ray: Justin Pin, has one at his disposal; which he uses to kill Dr. Tanner Rice.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Significant amounts of destruction result from an endless series of security and police robots trying to stop 7723 from performing a simple task of returning Mai's backpack to her. Less damage would have been caused if they'd simply let him give it back unhindered.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Mai, a child suffering from abusive peers and a neglectful family, finds a stray robot and upon realizing its destructive potential, uses it to vent her frustrations and exact revenge on those who hurt her. Now replace "robot" with "firearm".
  • The Dog Bites Back: Partway through the movie, Mai starts using 7723 to realize her revenge fantasies, which culminates with her ordering her robot companion to not only cage the leader of the bullies, but also shoot her. When he refuses to do the latter, Mai moves to beat up the girl herself (with a baseball bat, no less), only refraining from doing so when she notices that Greenwood is now crying in fear and pleading for her life.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Ares, Justin Pin's hulking bodyguard bot, is revealed to be the true Big Bad of the movie, controlling a robotic Justin Pin puppet after killing the real one.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Justin Pin appears to be an ordinary, if charismatic, and well-meaning man at first. He later turns out to be the puppet of Ares, a misanthropic robot plotting against humanity.
  • Feet-First Introduction: Justin gets one.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: 7723 activates a backup memory module which will restore his disabled weapons software but reset him to factory default. He retains his memory just long enough to critically damage Ares, allowing Mai to score the finishing blow. In the epilogue, Mai is helping him make new memories to bring him back to who he once was.
  • Hero Killer: Ares does this to Rice by disintegrating him.
  • Human Disguise: Ares reveals that he had killed IQ Robotics CEO Justin Pin and remote controls his body while pretending to be Pin's mindless bodyguard.
  • Implacable Man: Ares, being a heavily armoured murder droid, is this, taking repeated explosions and laser attacks and still being able to go toe to toe with 7723. Also applies to the Justin Pin robot, who survives being beaten repeatedly; thrown from a skyscraper; tossed into a giant monitor; dropped off a stadium into a swarm of exploding Q-Bots and still managing to make one last attempt on the heroes lives, albeit in a severely broken state. Less justified than Ares since he's not supposed to have any defensive capabilities whatsoever.
  • Impostor Forgot One Detail: Justin Pin casually refers to Molly as "The Human Woman" which Mai recognises as something no human would ever say.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!: You can use robots for everything. In fact, you can find these everywhere. To protect you from bullies, to play as video games, to brush your teeth, even to use as toilets!
  • Irony: Mai hates robots because of her mothers obsession with robots that have no free thought and are merely tools, and are implied to be the reason her father left her. Her first friend that help her with her issues is a free thinking robot that despite her treatment of him really cares for her.
  • Is This Thing Still On?: Ares/Justin Pin reveals his evil plan to Mai and her mother in the control room of the stadium... not realizing until too late that it was broadcast to the audience.
  • Jerkass Realization: Mai had this when she was going to hit Greenwood in the head for calling her a freak, but could not do it when she sees Greenwood crying. Greenwood has her own after this moment, realizing that if her bullying can push someone that far, it's probably best not to bully people anymore.
  • Job-Stealing Robot: It's shown in the opening montage that Mai's father's soccer team was being replaced by robots, which is implied to be what he meant when he said he "lost everything" before walking out on his family. Throughout the film we see that the police force is largely staffed by robots and during Mai's school class the lesson is being taught by robots while the one human teacher slacks off and plays video games, neither of whom do anything to discipline the clearly bored and neglectful students.
  • Kill All Humans: Ares' evil plan amounts to this.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Dr. Tanner Rice, who is casually disintegrated by Ares/Justin Pin.
  • Killer Robot: Ares to a T.
  • Laughably Evil: Justin Pin and to an extent, Ares, loves cracking jokes after committing terrible deeds.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Two notable instances:
    • When Mai first meets 7723, she sarcastically asks if he thinks they're going to "hang out, become best buds, take on the world together, and share a deep and moving journey of discovery."
    • When Dr. Rice is trying to explain who the real villain is, he gets interrupted:
    Dr. Rice: "He isn't... I mean he... he..."
    Justin Pin: He lost all patience for tedious backstory?
  • Mama Bear: Molly pounced on the Pin bot, and beat him up, when he tried to disintegrate her daughter, Mai.
  • Marionette Motion: The Justin Pin robot moves in a twisted, jerky motion during the climax after it has received significant damage.
  • Meaningful Echo: Mai calls 7723 a "stupid robot" the first couple of times she meets him. Later near the end, she repeats this line to Ares as a Pre-Mortem One-Liner while shouting before she finally defeats him by smashing his head.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Justin Pin and Dr. Tanner Rice are Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, respectively.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: In the beginning of the film Mai is subjugated to these from Greenwood and her robots.
    • Molly delivers one to Justin Pin's puppet body after Ares tries to kill Mai.
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: Ares' plans of creating a world without conflict ring hollow when he's shown to be a sadistic egotist willing to kill his own robots should they ever get in his way.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: When Molly was talking to Mai about being lonely sometimes, it looks like she can be getting through to her, then she made the mistake of saying you can never be lonely with a Q-Bot making her daughter angry causing her to yell say she doesn't understand her.
  • Parents as People: Molly does love her daughter. It is implied that her obsession with robots is her way of coping with his husband leaving her and his subsequent death.
  • Parents in Distress: Molly is kidnapped and held hostage by Pin/Ares during the climax, to lure Mai into a trap.
  • Parental Neglect: Molly pays very little attention to her daughter Mai, showing more interest in the Q-Bots instead, But she eventually realizes the error of her ways after Justin Pin tries to kill them, and promises to build a stronger bond with her daughter afterwards.
  • Police Brutality: The Grainland Police are shown to pull no punches when it comes to enforcing even traffic regulations and end up blowing up a highway to prevent 7723 from continuing to break said traffic regulations. On the other hand though...
  • Police Are Useless: Besides the large amount of damage that would naturally be caused by blowing up a highway they also do not even manage to destroy or arrest 7723, with them seemingly not even noticing he survived. This is further shown at the climax of the movie when only two police ships show up, with one of them being shown getting quickly blown up by Ares. The police then only show up again once the fight was already over.
    • Justified since most of the police force is likely staffed by ineffective robots.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Ares is the robotic bodyguard and master of Big Bad Justin Pin and is a hulking arsenal of weaponry with a singular red eye. The Gen 6 Q-Bots also sport these once they're set to explode. Justin Pin is revealed to secretly have these during his Robotic Reveal.
  • Robot Buddy: 7723. He befriends Mai and cares for her even after she is openly rude to him.
    • The Gen 6 Q-Bots are designed to be just this on a mass-produced commercial scale. They look and behave incredibly cute and dutifully assist their owners. Subverted, however, when it later turns out that Justin Pin/Ares has designed them so they will detonate as part of his plans to kill off humanity.
  • Robotic Reveal: A good smack to the head reveals that Justin Pin is actually a robot being remotely controlled by Ares, who killed the original and replaced him.
  • Running Gag: Momo getting his surprisingly durable head stuck between closing doors. Becomes Chekovs Gag in the climax when the last open stadium gate closes just before Mai and others can escape, but stops short with a small gap, then the camera pans down to reveal Momo getting stuck once again with no ill effects. The stadium civilians use this gap for force the automated lockdown doors open
  • Shout-Out: One of 7723's built-in weapons is a "phased plasma rifle in the 40 gigawatt range".
  • Single-Task Robot: Between all the robot cops and teachers, other robotic appliances are shown to have extemelly mundane functions such as robotic disposable noodle bowls that instantly cook noodles; a robotic toothbrush that will attack its owner if they don't brush their teeth for some reason; and even a robotic gate that does nothing other than comment on people opening it.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Momo, when being translated by 7723, is this in spades, but any and all of his expletives are hilariously bleeped out by 7723's always-on profanity filter.
  • Sistine Steal: Played with. When Mai first encounters a still-inert 7723, she touches his hand — and his arm promptly falls off. This triggers the appearance of a swarm of industrial robots, which finish assembling and activating him.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Ares loves calling himself perfect, despite the fact that in the eyes of the public, he's just a bodyguard for Justin Pin.
  • Take That!: The film is extremely critical of consumerist culture by showing humanity as being neglectful of their families and being obsessively excited for the next shiny new tech piece that IQ robotics puts out. Even the tagline for the Q-Bot range is "Better than Family" just to drive the point home.
  • Three Laws-Compliant: Notably averted. Even though these robots are supposed to help humans, Greenwood is able to casually order a group of Gen 6 Q-Bots to beat up Mai, which they take to with glee.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The official trailer shows the Q-Bots exploding.
  • Translation Convention: 7723 can understand what Momo the dog is saying thanks to his programming. When he casually admits he can talk to the dog Mai is surprised. At one point Momo is speaking a full sentence to Mai before the film cuts to another angle showing him incoherently barking, which is all Mai hears.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Ares did this to his creator Justin Pin after he was declared the perfect robot. Ares himself plans to use the Gen 6 Q-Bots to do this to humanity as a whole.
  • Walking Spoiler: Justin Pin and Ares. Not because they're bad guys, but because they're the same person.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Implied to be the case with Dr. Rice and Justin Pin as the former tries reasoning with Pin against his evil plan. Unbeknownst to Rice, the Justin Pin he once knew has been Dead All Along.
  • Wham Line:
    • Justin Pin revealing his true colors:
    Dr. Rice: Seriously, when did making the world a better place become killing people?
    Justin Pin: You know, I actually think "killing people" is making the world a better place.
    • Justin Pin revealing himself as not human:
    Mai: You're gonna tell me where you're keeping my mother!
    Justin Pin: Oh right, the human woman. Oh my gosh!
    • After 7723 erases his memory, forgetting who Mai was:
    7723: Hello. What's your name?
  • Wham Shot: During Ares and 7723's fight at Mai's house, Mai notices Justin Pin is staring stone faced at the fight and barely twitching, and doesn't react when Mai clobbers him in the face several times, implying his true nature as a robot. Fully confirmed during the climax when Mai punches Justin Pin so hard, one of his eyeballs falls out revealing a robotic red eye underneath.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Ares tries multiple times to kill Mai, including with his Disintegrator Ray. He even attempts this with Greenwood when she tries to come to Mai's rescue; it's only Mai's quick blow while restrained as he is taking a kill shot that narrowly avoids killing Greenwood and only burning her hair... but an inch lower...
  • You Are Not Alone: 7723 says this in his attempts to reassure an angered Mai during her attempt to sneak in and rescue her mother.