Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
Taken from a successful interactive video game. When Earth is invaded by aliens, cities are taken over and man is forced to flee from “spirit waves” that kill any humans they come in contact with. Aki (Ming-Na) and Dr. Sid (Donald Sutherland) are the only ones developing an antidote to counter the alien force. Aki has been infected with the alien force and lapses into dreams where the aliens communicate with her. Dr. Sid has helped her manage the infection but time is running out and the antidote is needed to save her life. With the help of a brave crew led by Captain Gray Edwards (Alec Baldwin) and others (Peri Gilpin, Steve Buscemi, Ving Rhames) they battle the aliens and enemies on earth (James Woods).
THE GOOD: … This is the first time that a movie inspired by a video game, is directed by the creator of the game, Hironobu Sakaguchi. The game series has sold more than 33 million units worldwide and is one of the most popular interactive games. That popularity is what will allow this sci-fi, man vs. nature with a spiritual mythology twist, to appeal to more adult audiences rather than just kids. The special computer generated characters look almost human and very sophisticated. The script plays out like a video game incorporating parallel worlds and lots of action but the artistic style of storytelling in this movie has established a new genre for feature films that will set a new precedence for how animation can and should look. Shrek and already set this trend for today’s youth but this movie takes it to a new level. The most entertaining part of this movie is how realistic the characters look (especially the hair and facial details) but the story is depressing. THE NOT-SO-GOOD: … This is a fantasy story revolving around ‘Gaia’ – the idea that Earth, humans and all living beings have a spirit which can be injured or destroyed, mixed with mythological themes. Some may find this “man vs. nature theme thrown in with alien ‘ghosts’ sucking the life out of humans” interesting but I found it to be a depressing, bleak story. Although the computer-generated effects are amazing (the characters look like real people, the planet looks real, different kinds of alien creatures in ghost forms) and it truly represents incredible filmmaking history, this dark and heavy storyline is for mature audiences.