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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 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.
  • 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.
  • An Aesop:
    • Our memories make us who we are.
    • Don't let the bad ones stop you from making newer, better ones.
  • 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.
  • 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: Ares, controlling Justin Pin, has one at his disposal. He even uses it 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.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Greenwood becomes less of a bully after Mai takes her retaliation too far.
  • 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 controls his body.
  • 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 mother obsession with robots that are implied to have no free thought and are merely tools. 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: Mal 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Justin Pin 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 turns out to be Ares in disguise, 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.
  • 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 Skill 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.
  • Shout-Out: One of 7723's built-in weapons is a "phased plasma rifle in the 40 gigawatt range".
  • 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!: Towards people who focus more on the Internet over connecting with real people, overlapping with people who constantly seek out the newest piece of tech (like the newest smartphone) because it's the new chic.
  • 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.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Ares did this to his creator Justin Pin after he was declared the perfect robot.
  • Wham Line: Justin Pin revealing his true colors:
Dr. Rice: Seriously, when did making the world a better place become killing people?
Justin Pin robot: 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 robot: Oh right, the human woman. Oh my gosh!
  • After 7223 erases his memory, forgetting who Mai was:
7223: Hello. What's your name?
  • Wham Shot: Mai punching Justin Pin so hard, one of the eyeballs fell out.
  • 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.