Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
It was nice watching "Final Fantasy" on my notebook computer; I got to rewatch certain portions of it repeatedly, to enjoy the incredible detail and realistic simulation of everything from dirt to demons. It was also a movie that made me think, not only afterwards, but during it. And what did I think? That the future is now.
"Final Fantasy" is the best animation I've ever seen for "lifelike" presentation of living things, whether it's the fluid motion of the people or the spirits in the movie, or just the simple play of light and shadow in a darkened alley speared with a searchlight. Gone are the days of computer generated "movies" of the 80s; the short-shorts at movie festivals where people and animals are obvious and blocky constructions of polygons. In "Final Fantasy" people walk, run, and otherwise move naturally, faces have details like freckles and beard stubble, and even skin is (almost) realistically colored and textured. The appearance is a far, far better effort than I have ever seen before.
Of course, a movie would be nothing without a plot to go with it; just pretty pictures with no story, like the glossy photos in an automobile brochure. Some have attacked "Final Fantasy" for its plot, either saying it's either too simple or unclear. My opinion is the plot is simple, and very clear, and that's just right for this movie. If what the makers of "Final Fantasy" were trying to do is showcase the animation, then the plot becomes secondary to the purpose of the film. In other words, while I can't get inside their minds, this kind of movie is the first of its kind, and the primary goal is to get it out there in the theaters, in front of the public. Not that any old plot will do, but a simple, bare-bones plot will work fine.
I might also make the point that many of the first motion pictures that were shown in theaters a century ago were like "Final Fantasy". How? Those early moving pictures were the first, best efforts of their kind released to the public. As such, they were long on images, and short on story. Again, the point then was to get this technology out for public viewing, to see their reaction to it, and to get the answer to the most crucial question of all; do people enjoy watching this?
Did I enjoy watching "Final Fantasy"? You bet. As I've mentioned before, I watched some parts of it repeatedly. "Old New York" looks believably apocalyptic after its destruction by the alien spirits. And the detail is high enough that I got a kick out of freezing the movie and looking through Times Square for familiar landmarks. Speaking of details, one notices a certain "flavor" to them; the brand name "Seiko" shows up repeatedly, including on the wrist computer that Dr. Aki wears, and many of the wrecked cars in Times Square look like Hondas and Toyotas.
Others have also complained about the stereotypes used for characters in the movie. Yes, I could agree with that; some of them are very familiar, like the African-American Marine Sergeant, and some of them are just ham-handedly designed, like the Marine General who advocates the Zeus Canon, an orbiting weapon built to destroy the source on Earth of the alien spirits. It really wasn't necessary to dress the general in a black uniform with a black leather coat and boots, black gloves, black, slicked back hair...you get the point, he's evil. Still, the use of stock characters is understandable. Like any effort moving into new territory, part of what you do is to imitate what's been done before; that includes the characters you create. If you are successful at duplicating what's already been done, then you can move into new territory with some confidence. Were they successful? I think so; moviegoers recognized the stock characters for what they were, so the creators obviously recreated them well.
But enough about plot, "acting", dialogue, story, etc. I think people who make that the focus of their attention in "Final Fantasy" miss the point. What is the point? The movie industry is closer than ever to replacing real, human actors with computer creations. Why would that be a good thing? How about these reasons? Computer created actors can be worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; they don't need to rest, sleep, eat, or excrete, and the constant work won't make them have a nervous breakdown, revolt, or quit. Nor do you have to worry about the labor and expense of filming on location anymore; with sufficiently powerful computers, you can make any location you want, on the spot.
Computer created actors also don't age, thus you can have whomever you wish at the peak of their youth...forever. Conversely, since you are god at the helm of a computer, you can also make your actor or actress any age, at any time, that you wish; a child on Tuesday, a young woman on Wednesday, and a 100-year old on Thursday. Working with the god analogy a little further, how about this? You can people your movies with any actor you like; death will not stop you. Want Groucho Marx, Carey Grant, or Natalie Wood? Raise them from the dead, fresh-faced and alive, young and vibrant. Time becomes meaningless; want to see your favorite actors or actresses young again? How about the original cast of the "Enterprise" from the first "Star-Trek" series in the 60s. No problem! Though some have died, and all are old, you can have them all back again, just like, or even better, than they were 35 years ago.
Digital and computer creations also are not afflicted with the myriad quirks that human beings have that making working with them so difficult. They don't have bad days, drug or alcohol addictions, marital problems, divorces, emotional problems, ego battles, and clashes of wills. They'll never raise hell, go on strike, unionize, or sue. They won't lie to you, connive against you, hate you, or quit. They won't forget their lines, won't forget to show up for work, or oversleep. What would it be like to have a cadre of professional actors who will work for you non-stop with inhuman devotion and consistency? My guess is it will be too attractive to pass up.
Of course, those who say that computer created actors can not replace the human ones are correct, but only for now. It won't be long before that can happen, and I expect to see it soon. The future is now.
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older