Review: “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within”

“Final Fantasy” the movie is a ground breaker in terms of CG animation. The designers have used the sci-fi genre to conjour up imaginative structures whilst concentrating on realistic humans as well – their facial movements aren’t perfect but hair, skin, limb movement, etc. is frightening real at times.

On a visual level its a pure stunner, but as a movie it turns out to be a real fizzer of an effort. At first it starts of well with a sequence in old NYC where the threat feels quite creepy and the animation’s effect is still new to us. After this though it begins to sink into basically a bad “Aliens” clone – the dialogue chokes on its own exposition and cheesiness with all sorts of religious themes which are fine at first as they’re used sparingly but then basically overwhelm the story in the last act.

The visuals stay solid throughout the runtime though there’s something disturbingly cold about watching these sort-of humans romantically involved, in fact emotionally only one time in the film is there any effect – when Aki describes a young girl who was one of the spirits. Its a shame really considering these human creations such as Sutherland’s amazing looking Dr. Ross are stuck with very stock characteristics, James Woods’ one-dimensional bad guy proves really atrocious.

In the end FF feels like a longer, more expensive looking version of those CG animated cartoons on network TV, the script is more adult aimed but the writing is just as weak. Does this set a new standard for films? For animation techniques it sort of does, for movies – no way. If only they’d spent a good portion of their large budget on the script, it could’ve been so much more. With sound its a rather confusing religion sermon, without though its a work of art.