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Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (DVD, 2002)
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The Spirit Within Final Fantasy
Nov 16, 2001
Review by lynus
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Story relies heavily on nature and spirituality.
Cons:Voices were the number one distraction.
The Bottom Line: Granted it's the graphics that will get the most attention, but look beyond the graphics and see the beauty in the story and what its trying to express.
I have read a lot of negative press about the movie Final Fantasy; most of which after viewing the film I donít understand. Some discussed the negative aspects of the graphics while others pondered the absence of an engaging storyline. I even read a couple of reviews that gave the movie bad reviews because it differed from the original Final Fantasy games. Although I understand that everyone is entitled to their position, I couldnít find one thing wrong with Final Fantasy. The movie was absolutely amazing. So amazing, that I agree with Paul Chambers from CNN-Radio; it was ďhard to take [my] eyes off the screen.Ē
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The movie is set in 2065 A.D. after aliens have invaded Earth. The planet has been infested with an alien race than kills humans when they come in contact with an alien. Two scientists Dr. Sid and Aki Ross search for eight spirits in the hope of creating a force powerful enough to rid the aliens from the planet.
Thatís about the best way I can to sum up the movie. It truly is a movie that you have to watch to understandÖand I mean watch closely. Not a movie where you can walk away for five minutes to grab a beer out of the fridge. This movie can get really confusing, very quickly, if your full attention isnít on your television screen.
Final Fantasy relies heavily on nature and spirituality. In the context of this movie it is the scientists that believe Mother Earth is an actual living spirit that is contained with the planet. They search for eight spirits that are located in various areas in the world and are contained in objects that could easily be considered garbage. The makers of this movie could of easily followed the normal doctrine of video games and made all the spirits these bright objects suspended in the air by some magical force. Instead in Final Fantasy they could be anything, even trash lying next to a deceased body. I remember my band teacher telling me once that God made everything, even the technology Iím using to type this review. Therefore the spirits that make up Mother Earth could be anything from a green plant to toxic waste; since it all came originally from parts of the Earth. Another religious aspect of Final Fantasy is Dr. Sid and Aki Rossí belief that using weapons of mass destruction to eliminate the aliens could of lasting effects that would irreversibly harm Mother Earth. So much harm in fact that they believe the Earth would just die and all of humanity along with it. Naturally the army led by an influential general dismisses the scientistís remarks and continue to pressure the use of a devastating action.
No movie that has ever been made to date; not Shrek, not Monsters Inc. has had the same level of eye opening graphics that Final Fantasy has. Clearly the time, effort, and money put into each frame is so evident itís a wonder that it was ever made. The humans almost look human, and quite possibly if they were taken out of their fantasy realm of planet Earth in 2065 and placed into current day the technology would take on further believability. Thatís not to say that they could be mistaken for actual actors, for I donít ever believe that we could ever be completed fooled by technology. Especially with the marketing of movies and the wealth of information found on the Internet, no movie will ever be able to deceive us for we will always know that it is indeed a creation made within a computer.
Try as I might to find something wrong with the animation, I failed at almost every turn. When words are spoken the mouthís move to form and express each word. Each shadow falls where it should and each piece of clothing folds where it should when movement is made. Now, the movie did seem to falter a little bit when it came to facial expressions. It seemed that all the characters talked in the same manner, even though the voices were different. Also some of the skin tones seemed a little too plastic and shined in sunlight like their skins were overtly oily. Also during some of the overhead shots it seemed like the characters walked with a bit of a limp. Thatís probably why on many of the shots we canít see the feet of the characters and instead see them from the knees up.
This was the number one distraction that was hard to overcome when enjoying the film. Unfortunately the first few minutes of the movie are wasted away trying to figure out exactly who that famous voice is. In my opinion they should of hired professionally trained vocal performers instead of famous American actors. Granted using famous actors increases the chances of the movie being popular (since you can market the actors who provided the voices) but itís very distracting. It happens in most animated movies and in fact it seems to be happening more and more in all animated movies. I donít recall Disney movies made before Beauty at the Beast having voices provided by famous actors of the time. I think they should return to using trained vocal performers instead of famous actors.
The vocals are provided by: Ming-Na (of ER fame) as Doctor Aki Ross, Alec Baldwin as Captain Gray Edwards, Ving Rhames as Ryan, Steve Buscemi as Neil, Peri Gilpin (of Frasier fame) as Jane, Donald Sutherland (appearing in his 120th film) as Doctor Sid, and James Woods as General Hein. Overall, all the actual voices were excellent. They delivered their lines and did their best with the emotional standpoint of their character even if they only had a storyboard to go on when the actual recording was recorded.
I personally never played the game and even though itís based on a game Iím happy the makers of the movie didnít trying to make the movie like the game. Just as the argument that the book is always better than the movie (an argument that I donít understandósince they are two different mediums) the game is always going to be different than the movie based on the game. Again, they are two different mediums. With a game we the user have control over how the game progresses and of course if you try to compare the two you will be disappointed because you donít have control over the movie. Then again since Final Fantasy game maker Hironobu Sakaguchi is also the director of this movie the lines can get blurred.
The only thing Iíll say about the ending is that it doesnít wrap everything up in a nice package. The movie indeed ends, but it leaves a few questions lingering either to potentially be wrapped up in a sequel or simply for us to ponder to ourselves.
Final Fantasy is a movie best seen than discussed. In fact, Iíve found it very hard to discuss here in this review. A lot of what said could detail the technological aspect of the movie and ponder the spiritual and theological aspects of the movieís story, but like the Bible itís not a clear-cut explanation. You have to experience it and have faith in it. Although this movie isnít bound to entice me to go out and purchase the library of games by the same name, I am happy that the days of Super Mario Brothers and Street Fighter are buried deep down in our cinematic history. Final Fantasy has edge; something that most video games turned movies lacked in the pastóand even some regular movies canít achieve. Granted it is the graphics that will get the most attention, but I ask you to look beyond the graphics and see the beauty in the story and what itís trying to express.
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