Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Review Date:
Director: Hironobu Sakaguchi
Writer: Al Reinert, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Jeff Vintar
Producers: Jun Aida, Chris Lee, Akio Sakai
Alec Baldwin
Donald Sutherland
Set in a post-apocalyptic future, our planet has been invaded by phantom aliens. Few humans remain, but a handful of them actually believe that they can survive the invasion and reclaim the planet as their own.
Despite some pretty stunning human-looking computer generated characters, imagery and action sequences, this film’s bleak and murky vision, and somewhat incomprehensible spiritual mumbo-jumbo storyline, just didn’t do it for me. And before any of you “gamers” knock my ass upside down, please note that I have never played or seen the “game” version of FINAL FANTASY, so I’m basing my review entirely upon what I saw on the big screen and nothing else. Anyway, back to what I was saying…basically, the biggest problem that I had with this movie wasn’t the fact that it was produced entirely by computers (human characters et al), but that I just didn’t care all that much about any of the people in the film, and even more importantly, that I didn’t really care about any of the gibberish that they kept babbling about (“we must find the 7th spirit in order to…”). Although that might just be a personal thing with me. I know that a lot of people enjoy these types of themes in movies, but to me, they get a little annoying, especially when they’re made even more complicated than they need to be. For example, I’m not entirely sure that I understood what went down at the end of this film, and that’s never cool. But enough about my non-appreciation for the story line, let’s talk about what everyone should be talking about with this film and those are its visuals!

I have to admit that most of this movie’s computer-generated images looked great on the big screen and were perfect for the world created within the script. Unfortunately, the characters couldn’t help but look computer-animated from time to time, and that usually took me “out of it” for a while. I also had some problems with the recognizable voices on some of the characters, like Alec Baldwin’s voice on a young man (who looked like Ben Affleck!), Steve Buscemi’s on a good-looking funnyman and James Woods. I really think that I would have gotten more into these characters, had they used non-movie star voices (as the lead character Aki, who was also the most developed character). On the whole, the dialogue wasn’t bad and the speech-to-mouth synching either (I’d heard horror stories on both), but I have to admit that despite my general appreciation for “darker” movies, I was really quite depressed by the end of this flick. I mean, why doesn’t anybody smile in this movie? There were a few jokes here and there (thank God!), but on the whole, the entire vision, storyline and demeanor of the characters was just very, very gloomy.

So I guess that I’m about half-and-half on this movie. I dug most of its amazing visuals, appreciated the action scenes and some of the real-life qualities of the characters (the old man with the beard looked life-life in almost every scene…very impressive), but didn’t get into the story about the spirits invading earth, felt pulled out of the picture from time to time, whenever I noticed the “computerness” of it all, and definitely didn’t buy into any of its “emotional” scenes (real-life actors needn’t worry about computers replacing them just yet, these actors didn’t deliver the goods in any of their “money” scenes). But on the whole, I do still admire the ambitiousness of this project, respect its vision and certainly look forward to more ground-breaking stuff like this in the future. But as a movie…well, it just didn’t entertain me all that much. Wait for the DVD.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

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