Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (DVD, 2002) Reviews
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Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (DVD, 2002)

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Final Fantasy: Fair Film, but Is It a Financial Fiasco?

Jul 16, 2001 (Updated Jul 16, 2001)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Almost all the visuals.

Cons:The Gaia thing has been done to DEATH already, and nobody told Sakaguchi.

The Bottom Line: If it wasn't CG this would be a 2-star movie, but the visuals by itself are worth the extra star. You gotta see this movie just for that.


When this movie came out, I thought it was going to be a HUGE success, especially after seeing movies that offered far, far less (Tomb Raider, Fast and the Furious, Pearl Harbor) were pulling in huge box office takes. Not a one of those three "switch off your mind" movies has made less than $100 million.

So I figured Final Fantasy would appeal to everyone, everything looked beautiful, there would be jaw-dropping visuals everywhere, and if you couldn't turn your mind off and just enjoy the pretty pictures, what the hell were all of you thinking when you saw any of those other 3 movies?

I got to the theater an hour early to catch the digital showing at the Irvine Spectrum (It was the only thing that would draw me back to the Spectrum and paying $8.75 to watch a bloody movie.) and I figure there would be a crowd there.

There wasn't. (And by the way, don't bother going to see the digital version, it's not really all that different, and in our showing the digital projector crashed, so I had to see through a serving of the lamest trailers I've ever seen TWICE!) I would discover later that "Legally Blonde" would come in first for the week. Legally Blonde?! I guess there are just a lot of stupid girls out there who empathize with Reese Witherspoon's character and dragged their boyfriends to see that instead. Poor guys.

This means bad news for everyone else as well, because it may be a long, long time before a movie as visually beautiful as this with a decent plot to go with it. If this movie had done well financially, then the critical bashing of thise movie would probably have led Sakaguchi to try again, but with a better plot. Now, there's no real hope of that. Thanks a lot, stupid blondes. I'm boycotting all these stupid "coming of age" films and I encourage you to do the same...otherwise they won't stop making them.

As far as Final Fantasy goes, it's a pretty good movie. I can't really rave about it, and I can't hate it. It's the Volvo of movies. Nothing exceptional, nothing wrong, either.

You can definitely see the progression in technique from the first character rendered, Aki, all the way to the last one, Dr. Sid. (Cid's in everything Final Fantasy.) Cid's done almost perfectly, and Donald Sutherland was perfectly cast. Some of the other character's movements look kind clunky and jerky, but Sid's done exceptionally well, and that's why it really really bums me out that someone else won't be able to take this CG ability and use in it a well written movie.

The plot's kinda weird. Some people were saying how confusing and convoluted it is. It's not confusing, it's just pretty dumb. If I'd known Sakaguchi was going to stick with this re-re-re-rehashed technology vs. nature bit and then reuse the whole Lifestream bit again I would have understood a bit more why this was so critically bashed.

The little preaching bits are everyone's least favorite part of the game, but apparently, they're the entire reason for making the games to Sakaguchi. That being the case I feel that Front Mission, Bushido Blade, even Einhander would have been a better movie candidate than Final Fantasy.

But Final Fantasy's what we get. The movie starts out with Dr. Aki Ross searching for life signs that will comprise pieces of this "wavelength" that will block out the effect of the "Phantoms", an alien race that invaded the Earth a while ago when the Leonid meteor crashed to Earth.

These Phantoms go through walls, and pretty much everything that isn't protected by a "Barrier". For some reason though, porojectiles still seem to hurt them. Aki gets surrounded by a bunch of them, and needs to be rescued by the "Deep Eyes" squad.

The Squad is led by Grey, who just happens to be an old ex-flame of Aki's. Immediately after saving Aki's butt from the Phantoms, Aki saves his his by removing an infestation of the Phantoms he got while on the mission.

The pace moves pretty quickly, and jumps into a Council meeting where they are discussing whether or not to fire the Zeus cannon, an orbital station which is reminiscent of the Mako Cannon that they mount on Shinra Headquarters. Sid warns against it because he notes that all the bombing mission on the meteor never actually really kill the Phantoms, they merely recycle them, and they burrow deeper into the Earth.

The Council leans towards the Zeus Cannon over Dr. Sid's Gaia theory until it's learned that Aki has stabilized a Phantom infestation inside herself with the technology Dr. Sid's research has created.

And so it becomes a contrived race against time. Aki, Sid and the Deep Eyes will try and find the last spirits needed to conpleted the wave, and the warmongering elements of the Council (James Woods) will try and fire the cannon.

The acting isn't bad, but the script is, and there's no way this bunch of actors could really save it. I mean, Steve Buscemi is great, as usual, Donald Sutherland fits his character to a T, Ming-Na, Alec Baldwin, and Perry Gilpin give passable performances but you get the feeling anyone could have stepped in for those guys. Ving Rhames is his normal bad self. James Woods comes off as stiff for some reason. Nothing much to the guy's part, wasn't feeling it from him, although I hear he's a pretty nice guy.

The music was odd. I don't know if Uematsu composed all the orchestral stuff that was going on in the background but for the most part it didn't fit. I was much more impressed with the fast the hyde, the lead singer from L'Arc en Ciel could sing English so well...this movie definitely needed more similarly styled rock and less chamber music.

This is still one of those movies that you have to see, just to see how far we've come in terms of graphics, and artistry. We who play video games havve already seen what it's like to create an entirely new world from scratch, but for those of you who haven't, you definitely want to take a look at exactly how close the mind's eye has gotten to the physical eye.

This could have been huge. But it wasn't. It could be the makings for a huge second attempt, but thanks to everyone going to watch Legally Blonde, that's unlikely as well, which is a damn shame.

I hate you stupid blondes.


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