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

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Square's box-office dream goes bye bye

Nov 24, 2001 (Updated Nov 24, 2001)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Nice graphics

Cons:Pacing, script, overall plot.

The Bottom Line: Makers of video game based movies should stick to the original gaming plot!


Failure to follow the original gaming plot ranks among the most common complaints associated with movies based on video games. If you thought such movies as Double Dragon & Super Mario Brothers were way off target, a taste of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within would probably drive all you video gaming purists up the wall. For starters, with the exception of its title, the movie had nothing whatsoever to do with the gaming series. It lacks everything that had made Final Fantasy what it is today. No magic, no summons, a poorly conceived plot but perhaps the worst thing about the film was its lack of a proper main hero, usually present in all previous Final Fantasy games. I would hardly classify Dr Aki Ross as the 'hero type' since she isn't exactly someone like Zidane ( from FF9 ) or Cloud ( from FF7 ). Being more of a research scientist than the heroic type we've all grown accustomed to, she spends her time collecting aura emitting life forms like plants & other weird creatures rather than getting her hands dirty on the monsters.

Everything about the film was so much different from the gaming series that it could have stood alone under the title 'The Spirits Within' without having to call it Final Fantasy. The plot reminded me of other post-apocalyptic themed movies like Escape from LA and Judge Dredd. I don't know what had gotten into the writer's head while penning the plot, but this clearly isn't Final Fantasy. In fact, it could have been called Battlefield Earth 2065 AD, and no one would notice. The once awesome summon & magic sequences synonymous with Final Fantasy are now replaced with pulse rifle bursts fired by so-called elite marines. Magic doesn't even exist anymore, not in this movie at least. Why take the trouble to summon an entitiy like Bahamut when you could take the easy way out by blowing up the bad guys with a proton cannon? As a result, the film reeks of the same military undertones found in other sci-fi flicks as Starship Troopers. The complete lack of Final Fantasy elements had clearly taken its toll on the movie as proven with its poor performance at the box office. Square reportedly lost millions and deservedly so for churning up such crap.

Graphically, the FF:TSW is like a 90 minute long Squaresoft FMV but that's the only good thing about it. Despite being the sweet eye candy that it is, the movie fails in every other department from its mediocre plot right down to its less than impressive ending. The overall blandness extends to mar even its sloppily conceived romance factor. Unlike the chemistry between Zidane & Garnet in FF9, Aki & Gray's relationship looked awkward and lacked the passion found in previous games. It's a lot like attempting to put together 2 jigsaw puzzles that do not seem to fit. What does this tell us poor unsuspecting viewers? Well firstly, there isn't going to be a fairy tale like ending and secondly don't be expecting a tear jerker scene like what you saw in FF8 & FF9. The overall mood is made to look very dark, much like a Tim Burton film. Not that I have anything against Tim Burton's movies but this isn't the way Final Fantasy is supposed to look. Whatever happened to the castles, magic, propeller-driven airships & guardian entities?

In all, I found Final Fantasy: TSW more than just a huge disappointment. I was especially annoyed at Square for calling it Final Fantasy when there were tons of other more appropriate titles to choose from. I would classify it as a poorly conceived hybrid made up of borrowed themes from Akira, Aliens, Escape from LA, Starship Troopers & a host unknown post-apocalyptic themed animes. Overall Grade: D


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