I have no idea what the 'Final Fantasy' genre is so I apologise to purists in advance if I don't care if this film is true to your vision of what a Final Fantasy film should look like. I'm writing purely from viewing it as a stand-alone product, and in this repsect, it is excellent. Or rather, AMAZING.
The graphics are astounding and the sheer level of attention to detail takes the breath away. At numerous points I had to look more intently as I was sure the animation was being intercut with live action (which it wasn't).
The ground-breaking graphics aside (which really shouldn't be the case as it's what makes this film) the storyline is strong enough to hold the movie on it's own.
All the characters are believable, and in many ways have more substance about them than the great majority of live action movies. The voice-overs synch seemlessly from fine actors like Steve Buscemi, James Woods, Donald Sutherland, etc who surely must recognise that films like this herald the downfall of the live-action movie star. There is humour (mild) and pathos aplenty.
This film truly must be recorded as one of the greats in cinematic firsts.
This film is an excellent evening's entertainment, featuring breath-taking animation, a cracking cast of well-known actors doing the voices, some really imaginative scenery and backdrops, and an acceptable (if not original) plot.
If this film had been produced as a live-action movie then it would probably have been as popular and celebrated as Aliens; it has much the same kind of feel to it. And I suspect some of the characters owe a lit to Aliens; is any sci-fi movie complete without a Vasquez??
The animation in FF means that the director can visualise many effects which would otherwise look clunky alongside live action. Some of the dream sequences in FF are stunningly beautiful, while the expressions and actions of the human characters are extremely well drawn.
If FF suffers in any aspect it is that the maturity of the animation and charaterisation aren't reflected all through the plot. The bad guy is very much a boo-hiss traditional villan, although at least Aki the heroine is a little more complex. The film tries to bridge the gap between game-players and cinematic depth -- and it comes close to succeeding. It does feel a little lightweight at times, though.
The special features were something of a disappointment; no doubt interesting if animation is your game! I wouldn't pay more for a disc simply to get these features. If a vanilla version of the movie is available for less money, then that's what I'd buy.
Overall, it's a very entertaining movie and one which is suitable for the whole family to watch together. It has no relevance to the game of the same name -- you don't need to know anything about the franchise to enjoy the film.
And in places the ground-breaking animation is simply stunning, and it's worth viewing simply to experience these scenes.
on 28 November 2001
OK, I admit that I am a 36 year old fan of the very successful video game series, FINAL FANTASY!! But the Americans do seem intent on putting thier own little two-penneth worth in, on a Japanese belief. The belief being that, when somebody or something dies, the 'soul' goes back to earth. The Americans want to have their own input with the 'humour' in the film, but it doesn't work.
If you are a follower of Japanese Anime/ Video games, then the story line is very believable, but very dissappointing due to the American script contributions. But that is nothing compared to the computer generated actors, and when you do get the chance to get your breath back, then you will understand why this film took 4 years to make.
I bought this DVD from the United States, and because it is Region 1 encoded, Columbia/Tristar have developed a new regional coding devise called RCE (Regional Coding Enhancement), which makes the playback of the disc very difficult, on both chipped and multi-regional DVD players. If you had a choice, I would say don't buy the Region 1 disc version. The Region 2 discs, have the exact same added features as the Region 1 encoded discs, but a lot less trouble in the play back of them!!
Hironobu Sakaguchi has basically created a new form of entertainment that fuses the technical wizardry of interactive games with the sensational visual effects of motion pictures, taking you that one step closer to The Spirit Within
The Story: A female scientist known as Aki Ross engages in a race against time to gather together spirit entities which would help her defeat invading Alien spirits threatening Human existence. Along the way she is joined by the prestigious Deep Eyes squadron who's Captain is an old friend of Dr. Ross. Dr. Cid is in a struggle to convince a critical government that these spirits or Phantoms can easily be defeated by collecting these entities rather than using firepower which Cid knows is making the spirit situation worse.
The Review: Since first seeing this film in 2001 I have always been a big supporter and defender of this film. The storytelling is simply superb as it introduces us one by one to each character and makes us feel sympathetic towards these characters and their fight to solve the problem that is plaguing the Earth.
The animation even when compared to todays standards is truly spectacular and was evidently ahead of its time. The animation of this film is comparable to many of the cut scenes from this generation of video gaming, showing us that the level of realism achieved in this film is easily doable now and it makes me think the animators should make a new film to show us what they can achieve with todays technology.
The suspense and drama of some scenes is something that I don't feel can be matched by a lot of todays films. For example the scene when the spirits invade a human habitat which originally protected them, the chase scenes and the general emotion is placed within you through your belief in the characters.
The primary criticism that people have of this film is the slow pacing, which many American or UK movie goers wouldn't be used to as it's a very Japanese style of storytelling which is known for being slow paced but has a real purpose for its pace. Over the years many Asian movies have become cult favourites amongst American and UK audiences. Movies such as Lady Vengeance and Oldboy are prime examples of how the Western audiences have begun to embrace this style of storytelling, which I believe if Final Fantasy were to be released in the Cinemas today it would gain a much better reception than it did when it was first released.
The voice casting is spectacular with a truly stellar cast of names such as Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi to name but a few and they genuinely do not disappoint.
A very, very good movie and a must for all those Sci-Fi, Drama and animation fans.
on 1 January 2011
I have been a fan of the Final Fantasy series since I was five years old, so when this was released my dad and I saw this film at the cinema- and it was an amazing experience.
Even if I wasn't a Final Fantasy fan and was just a regular old film nerd I would still love this film. It has a fantastic narrative, in which shows both sides of the story instead of leaving it undeveloped. It is executed perfectly, the characters seem believable and lets face it, the effects are spectacular.
How anyone can say it in't how Final Fantasy should be is beyond me. It is of the fantasy/sci-fi genre, it has a Cid (okay so it is spelt Sid this time), it has action scenes, chocobos on Aki's pajamas. It is also based aroud the similar Gaia Hypothesis that Final Fantasy VII touches upon too. Not every Final Fantasy is the same, besides this is a FILM. As an ex-film and media student I can tell you now they have to be done differently, and they did it wonderfully.
on 26 November 2002
You may have heard a lot of bad reviews on 'The Spirits Within'. The biggest problem being the plot, which is considered boring and cliche. This is nonsense, the story is entertaining, and although there are vast amounts of dialogue, the action sequences are worth a look. The film's biggest pull factor is its grapical technology. It is worth getting the DVD just to witness the sheer skill and realism injected into the graphics. This is a big step for the world of animation. The DVD's extras are excellent. There is certainly anough to keep you going for a long time, including an excellent outtakes reel. All in all, it doesnt cost that much, and you shouls buy it, to own a milestone in cinematic animation,
on 9 April 2002
Finally, a truly winning combination. The writers and animation teams behind one of the greatest computer games series to date make the move into the movies. Final fantasy: the spirits within is a completely new storyline from the people who brought you the classic game series. It follows a Doctor in her search for the spirits required to save the planet from destruction by strange alien invaders. Not only must the good doctor fight these creatures she must also survive the attacks of an insane general who will take out the aliens even at the cost of the earth itself. What is immediately noticable about this film is that it is entirely computer animated, and that this is hardly noticeable (pun intended!). The animation is state-of-the-art and really will blow you away with it's realism (well, as real looking as you can get in a future world with aliens and lasers and stuff). The voices behind the characters are also well chosen and really give the film heart. However, the film may not appeal to people who haven't enjoyed the games (yes, both of you!). the plot is a bit obscure, although fans of the series should have little trouble. Do not be put off by the fact that this is a film of a game. It does not directly realte to any of the final fantasy games in anything but the name, it's a completely new plot. You can't help but feel that the expert storytelling skills of the writers would have been better suited to a longer time (the games last somewhere in the region of 70 hours!) but if you're looking for an original sci-fi adventure with visuals that have to be seen to be believed, then i recommend this film whole-heartedly. Let's hope that this isn't the final fantasy. More of the same please Square.
on 13 December 2001
Upon viewing Final Fantasy the first time, you have to get over the 'wow' factor. You sit for about ten minutes saying, WOW its so pretty. But then you realise there is more to it than computer animation. A typical Japanese manga plot about saving the world is embelished with rich voice talent and more twists in the plot than a fruity winder. A completely original narative for a great film. It's a film that can be rewatched, sometimes to relive the adventure, sometimes to look at it just for pure eye candy. This is a must have for any sci-fi fan and definate for a Final Fantasy or Squaresoft lover.
This wholly CGI film sets the mark for other films of this type. Not only does it feature fantastic animation, also indistinguishable from reality at times, but it also contains a decent story that attempts to deal with serious concerns.
The year is 2065, and most of Earth has been overrun with phantoms, beings that arrived on Earth when a meteor crashed into the planet. The reamining survivors live behind bio-barriers capable of keeping out these terrible creatures that kill with a touch, removing a person's life force. Dr. Aki Ross, voiced by Ming-Na from ER, is on the trail of eight spirits, or life-forms, that when combined is capable of cancelling the life forms of the phantoms. Now this is where a lot of people don't seem to like the film. It draws heavily on the ideas of life-forces and the Gaia theory. But it is all explained in the film, and fits well. Ross had been previously infected by the phantoms, but thanks to the five spirits already discovered, she is able to contain the infection. At night she dreams of an alien world and she is convinced that her dreams hold the answer to the puzzle of the phantoms.
A star cast adds their voices to this film, including Alec Baldwin as Aki's love interest, Captain Gray. Also present are Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, and Peri Gilpin (Ros from Fraser). At times the animation will blow you away. I heard that most of the work on the film at times went into Aki's hair, which has strand by strand definition, moves with her and blows in the wind.
The second disc in this set contains some really good material, including a photo shoot of Aki Ross, ( a la mode of Lara Croft), documentaries about the difficulties of creating such a masterpiece and a chance for you to develop your own story.
This is a cgi film to watch. It sets the standard.
on 20 December 2002
I really really liked this movie. All I know is that when I see that eagle at the end, and hear the fantastic final music, I feel good.
I think part of the reason that people flame the plot of this film is the fact that it deals with some fundamental things that we (Westerners) are not familiar with in cinema. We are not accustomed to films with such an ecological and spiritual standpoint, especially when set in an action packed futuristic setting. Fans of the game series (or sci-fi fans in general) who are expecting action, effects, and nothing more are likely to be left feeling shortchanged unless they appreciate these aspects. I feel it is harsh to ridicule the plot to the degree that some people have - the Western influence is there alright, with the plastic stereotype characters and comic relief (hence only 4 stars), and these do turn the movie into something less than it might have been, however the plot involving Gaia and the spirits is certainly unlike anything I have ever seen, and it deserves praise for daring to be different.
The film does *not* rely exlusively on the CGI element to be successful (in way that The Matrix was not just 'bullet-time'). It attempts to be successful by introducing new concepts to a jaded audience, and I for one am grateful for that.