As Poor Richard once said, "Originality is the art of concealing your sources."
With all due respect to one of our greatest founding fathers, with an attitude like that, Ben Franklin would never have made it as a Hollywood screenwriter — not on a weekend like this one, with a remake, adaptation and update all flaunting their source material.
Adapted from the Philip K. Dick short story "The Golden Man," "Next" stars Nicolas Cage as a man with the ability to see into the near future and use his knowledge of all possible outcomes to alter his destiny. He's hunted by government agents who want to use his power to prevent terrorist attacks.
The Golden Man of the original was a barely sentient mutant who, with those like him, would ultimately come to dominate civilization. The fact that Cage speaks at all means they've changed the story quite a bit, but that's not unusual for Dick, an author whose works have been adapted into as many misses at the cinema ("A Scanner Darkly," "Paycheck") as hits ("Minority Report," "Total Recall"). No matter. We see into the not-too-distant future, to a time when we're sitting at home watching a bootleg copy of this flick with only co-star Jessica Biel's scenes playing on loop.
A remake of the Swedish film "Den Osynlige," David Goyer's "The Invisible" centers on a boy who is hovering between life and death and must somehow lead searchers to his hidden body. As the celebrated co-writer of "Batman Begins," Goyer seems an odd choice to helm a foreign drama, but the director insists it's all just an elaborate metaphor for growing up. We hope Goyer never grows up. We're certain we'll run out of comic books before we run out of interest in his versions of them (see " 'Batman' Writer David Goyer Spills 'Dark Knight,' 'Invisible' Details").
Two real-life actors who look like they were torn from the pages of some amazing serial are Vinnie Jones and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, co-stars of "The Condemned." A modern mixture of "The Most Dangerous Game" and "The Running Man," "The Condemned" follows 10 prisoners shipped to a remote island where they must battle to the death for the amusement of television audiences. You know, just like pro wrestling, only fake (don't destroy our illusion).
The story of a man who wakes up after a 20-year coma, Jamie Kennedy's "Kickin' It Old Skool" plays like one of those trailer mash-ups, a comedy version of "Awakenings." And merely for hiding its obvious inspiration so well, we're willing to call it the most original of the bunch (see "Jamie Kennedy's 'Skool' Is In Session — Lesson One: Taking Down A 'Heckler' ").
The Predictions: He goes by Joseph now, but for a generation of fans raised on New Kids on the Block, he'll always be Joey Mac. Now Joseph McIntyre is out to add a new category to his résumé: film actor. Already an accomplished theater performer, he stars in the upcoming independent film "On Broadway," the story of a playwright who puts on a show in the back of a pub to honor his late uncle. Co-starring Will Arnett, Amy Poehler and Eliza Dushku, "On Broadway" premieres at Boston's Independent Film Festival on Friday.
What's the #1 flick? How much will it rake in?
Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor: "Next" ($18 million)
"It can't be a good sign when the only reaction I have to looking at this week's new releases is, 'Oy.' Strange little group. 'The Invisible' looks like a solid teen thriller, but Justin Chatwin isn't exactly, well, anyone yet (no offense, Justin!). Plus, audiences still seem into 'Disturbia' to get their scares. So I'm going to go with Nic Cage and his sci-fi flick 'Next.' The buzz isn't exactly great, but Mr. Cage is coming off of 'Ghost Rider,' and that's got to be good enough for a #1 showing."
Larry Carroll, MTV News writer: "Next" ($16.5 million)
"I've been playing with my gut, rather than my head, and we can all see where that's gotten me. So this week I'm going to be ruthless and see if I can close the gap on my wily MTV comrade. With all the weak competition out there, 'Next' is the inevitable winner — but between the ads, advance buzz and Cage's hairline, any Dick fan can see this one is more 'Paycheck' than 'Minority Report.' I'm predicting a fairly weak opening, and my spies have tipped me off that Josh is going with an $18 million opening. So I'm gonna predict $16.5 million — that way, anything less belongs to me."
Joseph McIntyre, "On Broadway" star: "Next" ($25 million)
"I'll be pushing for the Nic Cage movie. My brother-in-law just produced a movie with Nic Cage called 'Bangkok Dangerous,' so I'll pick 'Next.' That's a no-brainer for me. Plus, even though Jessica's been acting for a long time, she seems to be coming into her own. I thought she was awesome in 'The Illusionist.' Let's go with $25 million."