Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

directed by Hironobu Sakaguchi

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within poster  
The makers of Final Fantasy have been responsible for some of the world's best-looking games in recent years. Lately titles have included lengthy cut-scenes, so it was inevitable they would eventually branch out into cinema.

They have moved away from the fantasy feel that characterises the games into something that looks a lot more like science fiction. Set on Earth in 2065, the world has been hit by a meteor and has gone all post-apocalyptic. Strange semi-transparent aliens roam the planet whilst humans are forced to live in the few remaining cities, surrounded by force-shields.

So far so sf, but things are not quite as they seem, least of all the danger of a coherent plot associated with Final Fantasy. If you don't go in expecting it to make sense you won't be disappointed. But that's not what this movie is about, after all. What it does do really well is the whole appearance of the movie, with much being made of the 40000 individual hairs on the head of Aki Ross. They even added blemishes and freckles to make her seem more realistic. Undoubtably it's some of the best CGI on the silver screen since... ever, but was it all worth it?

The characters look almost real, as close to lifelike as they could without blending in with the rest of us and taking over the world. And the landscapes are awesome, asyou might expect. What gave it away was the way lips didn't move very much, so they won't be putting flesh and blood actors out of work just yet. Besides, someone still has to do the voices.

Accompanied by her mentor Dr Sid, Aki Ross is searching for the eight spirits that will help in the fight against the phantoms. This bit doesn't make much sense, it's just an excuse for the characters to journey into dangerous areas and kick some alien butt. She's helped out by the Deep Eyes Squadron, led by Captain Grey Edwards who she had some sort of romantic history with. Neil and Jane have some of the best comic lines. General Hein plays the part of the villain in the long leather coat in bad guy black. He wants to kill the alien scum by blasting them to smithereens, but Aki and Dr Sid are convinced that this method will also destroy the earth. General Heinous lost his family to the alien phantom creatures, he's a desperate man and he will go to any lengths.

Some of these characters are quite stock, and a few of the themes reminded me of previous Final Fantasy game plots. The story involves concepts such as the spiritual essence of the Earth and all living things, which may not chime very well with Western viewers. Whilst watching it's hard not to wonder how much fun it would be to play the people, rather than just enjoying the film for itself. It compares averagely to other big-budget science fiction offerings. However it's worth watching for the effects alone, the music is up to scratch, and it would make a fantastic RPG.

Film Details

Year: 2001

Categories: Films

  Kids     Science fiction

Classification: PG

If you like this, try:

Final Fantasy VII : Advent Children cover    

Final Fantasy VII : Advent Children by Tetsuya Nomura
The movie sequel to Final Fantasy VII reintroduces some old friends in new guises.

3 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson