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Overall Rating
3.55

Awesome32.17%
Worth A Look: 22.61%
Average: 24.35%
Pretty Bad: 9.57%
Total Crap: 11.3%

10 reviews, 170 user ratings


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Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Collin Souter

"Artificial Intelligence"
3 stars

At what point do you think we will have reached the apex of the digital revolution? Will it come when John Wayne, Judy Garland, Charlie Chaplin and Jimmy Stewart get together to do a movie? Could there already be a sinister project in the works along these lines? (If so, I hope Robert Zemeckis will be involved.) How about if we have them all being chased by giant computer generated dinosaurs? What will be the plot? Doesn’t matter. Can we do it? Probably, so stay tuned.

“Final fantasy: The Spirit Within,” the latest CG movie to push the envelope, picks up where the great “Toy Story 2” and the disappointing “Dinosaur” left off. It takes the visual realism of the human characters in “Toy Story 2” and takes it so many steps further, we completely forget we have been watching animation. But where “Dinosaur” made the mistake of dumbing-down the storyline and making the characters all cute, warm, and fuzzy, “Final Fantasy” makes the mistake of over-complicating the plot and making the characters too stiff and cliché for us to care about them. Still, I would have to say this represents the best of all the movies inspired by a video game. This movie benefits from its technological glories and right about now, I believe, audiences don’t seem to care how far one pushes the envelope as long as they can connect to the characters in some way.

Take a look at the highest-grossing movie of the year so far, “Shrek.” Why do people love this movie? I’m pretty sure it has little to do with the animation, although it looks extraordinary and possesses many of the same features as “Final Fantasy.” The writers of “Shrek” made a point to make it as accessible to adults as it would be for kids. It has wit, charm, intelligence, a bizarre sense of humor and, above all, characters to which people can relate. “Shrek,” first and foremost, tells a story, that of an outsider who finds acceptance. The animation looks stunning, but I remember it more for the characters and, of course, the little bluebird. It has enough laughs, enough beauty and enough charm to make people, myself included, want to see it again and again.

Did I expect “Final Fantasy” to be like “Shrek?” Certainly not. I brought it up to prove a point. Technology has brought us far enough that it shouldn’t surprise us in the slightest if a group of animators can produce human characters from thin air and make them look as realistic as possible. We should know now that we have no limits and we should be grateful. But a movie should not skate by on its ground-breaking elements alone. Once you get past the initial thrill of the life-like characters, you’ll probably want an engaging storyline to hook you in for the long haul. “Final Fantasy” doesn’t lack a story. In fact, it can get pretty involved, so much so that I, for one, started losing interest. I’m sure gamers and sci-fi freaks will find a lot to talk about once the credits roll, but with all the effort put in by the animators, this should have been a classic.

“Final Fantasy” also makes the mistake this summer’s “Cats and Dogs” made by employing celebrity voices for its characters, an irritating trait amongst 90% of animated or semi-animated movies these days. This brings me back to “Shrek.” Sure, we knew when the Donkey appeared the voice and delivery could only belong to Eddie Murphy, but since the character had four legs, buck teeth, a tail and gray hair, it didn’t matter. His character needed to be a loudmouth and Eddie Murphy, as we all know, has a loud mouth. Likewise, Mike Myers gave Shrek a distinguishable Scottish accent, thereby making him a wholly unique character. We actually forget about the celebrity. “Final Fantasy” casts Alec Baldwin (also of “Cats and Dogs”), Steve Buscemi, Ving Rhames and Donald Sutherland, none of whom do anything to disguise their voices or bring “character” to their character. It almost seems as though they showed up, read the lines, and collected the paycheck.

“Final Fantasy” has a lot going for it otherwise. I hate to recommend a movie just because it looks great, but, really, I think the movie should be seen by anyone who cares about how far we have come with animation. Take a good look at Sutherland’s character, a balding man with a beard named (Dr…). His features look most convincing and I really did believe him to be human. Word has it the animators went through frame by frame to make sure every single strand of hair (that’s hundreds of thousands of strands) matched every frame. As if actors didn’t have enough to worry about this year, along comes a movie consisting of virtual humans that, at times, act better than most of the Gen-Y actors just breaking in.

This movie also continues one of my favorite trends of recent years, that of a smart heroine who must save the day. The heroine here, Dr. Aki Ross, voiced by Ming-Na, has a beauty and grace that I found alluring. She commands attention and gives the movie an interesting voice. The story revolves around her and her dreams about how to save the planet from an alien phantom menace that has killed many humans. She finds a plant that could be the key in helping to eliminate the dreaded spirit. She enlists the help of her ex boyfriend’s (Alec Baldwin) team of fighters to fight with her. The plot gets far more complicated than that, but I’m running out of paragraphs here. The writers here make a wise choice in making Dr. Aki Ross a real person rather than just a one-woman fighting machine with something to prove, something that I imagine most video game movies hate to even try (Just look at that stupid “Tomb Raider” movie).

Over the past few weeks, people have been debating the merits of Steven Spielberg’s “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence,” a debate which will continue, I imagine, long into the year. Many argue that the movie makes a mistake in asking us to care for a human made of microchips and wires. People find it hard to connect emotionally with an android. I understand that argument, but more so with “Final Fantasy.” The characters look human, they sound human, but something about the fluidity of their movements (too fluid for humans) and the lengths to which the storytellers try to keep the story involving kept me from giving a damn about any one of them. I cared more about the big green guy, the android, Buzz and Woody. I probably would have felt the same way had the film been live-action, but then again, I probably would not have gone to see it.

Perhaps creating computer-generated characters we actually care about should be considered the apex of the digitaPerhaps creating computer-generated characters that l revolution (“A.I.” makes the same point, I believe). After all, what would be the point in creating life-like humans if you can save yourself the trouble by casting real ones? I’m glad I saw “Final Fantasy,” and in many ways I recommend seeing it, but I’ll take Marlon Brando in his current condition over a computer-generated android any day of the week.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=2141&reviewer=233
originally posted: 07/19/01 23:19:58
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User Comments

5/07/19 I Hate FF This is a dull, unphilosophical movie. 1 stars
3/25/18 morris campbell entertaing nothing special 3 stars
2/20/11 Ark The phantoms were creepy and the chick was hot, even if she was just cg! 4 stars
10/26/09 JXL63 Otherwise, with respect to human well-being, it will continue to be outranked by these othe 4 stars
10/25/09 Ganry95 How could there be so many different opinions on what the truth of God really is? , <a href 5 stars
10/25/09 Alex86 Making Sure Your Surgery is Safe Check with your insurance company to find out if you may 5 stars
10/24/09 Ganry79 Food must be grown in with a short growing season, and all of the farm stuff that used to b 4 stars
10/24/09 Miss23 Again, a recurring question and a common one in most interview :can u pls send me some samp 3 stars
10/23/09 driver16 Are there rules about how I have to do my housecleaning? , 3 stars
10/23/09 GanjaBoy20 What are your Terms of Service? , 3 stars
8/06/09 The man with the van crappy story good graphics, enix should try making a movie like this but with a good story 3 stars
9/03/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome storyline! 5 stars
5/16/08 PAUL SHORTT THE RESULT IS UGLY, CONFUSING AND BORING 1 stars
3/17/08 mr.adolescent FUCKING SHIT MOVIE. SO FUCKING SHIT, ID RATHER EAT MY OWN FUCKING SHIT THAN WATCH IT. 1 stars
12/28/07 mb Ridiculous and Deceptive 1 stars
6/16/07 al smith critics fuck off this movie is stunning 5 stars
5/11/07 Dude Stunning 5 stars
4/18/07 Stevo UK Another slice of Jappy-crap. Wasnt worth the 20p I spent on it. 1 stars
3/21/07 man brilliant 5 stars
9/29/06 phiuk yiu Wait a minute, this was supposed to be FInal Fantasy. This film sucks everyone's dick 1 stars
8/30/06 Joe Great animation, but I had no idea what was going on. Still love the games, though. 2 stars
1/21/06 Rob Winsor Should've been titled "Spirits Within" as it has nothing to do with FF. 5 stars
12/05/05 Zigga As a FF fan if it wernt for the special FX this would have been worse. 3 stars
12/02/05 Ronin This one is so so. I am saying it as a Final Fantasy game series fan. 3 stars
10/09/05 Anus You guys are joking, right? This movie is shit! Shit dialogue and acting. 1 stars
10/01/05 Craig swift best film ever 5 stars
8/11/05 ES Should have been so much more. . . 2 stars
6/02/05 Chris Great special effects! 4 stars
2/19/05 clinger26 no, no , no, noooo- the horror! 1 stars
10/02/04 whatevr Just another crappy movie based on a video game 2 stars
8/23/04 Andrew Lythall Great film, great special FX, superb soundtrack and Aki Ross is beautiful!! 5 stars
8/17/04 Herolder Way toop esoteric 4 stars
7/21/04 The Talking Elbow The plot is confusing, but its brave enough to enter new grounds with sci fi. 5 stars
6/14/04 Jack Bourbon Made absolutely no fucking sense 2 stars
5/13/04 RevoHead Forget the name FF, This is 3dcg Science Fiction and nothing more. 4 stars
5/01/04 MetallicA This shows how superior the best movies are to squares games. 1 stars
3/31/04 bob excellent 5 stars
3/06/04 Jaco Visser Good! Good! Good! 5 stars
3/04/04 aeryn sun aki ross is just a great woman like me 5 stars
1/09/04 tatum Anyone else just rather have flesh and blood actors in this? 3 stars
12/09/03 Rob If only this horrible movie put Squaresoft out of business PERMANENTLY!!! 1 stars
11/28/03 Joseph The videogame series sucks, and THIS is one of the worst movies of 2001. Fuck Squaresoft. 1 stars
8/17/03 Lord Chu In my mind, THE MOST underrated film of ALL TIME. 5 stars
5/24/03 Tommy Awesome animated movie!! 5 stars
5/21/03 Jon Lyrik (sarcastically) Ooooooh...ahhhh... 1 stars
5/12/03 Jack Bourbon That this movie is liked by many is evidence of national crack problem of epidemic prop's 2 stars
4/08/03 silvercheetah14 Great Animation and Action/Bad story 5 stars
3/17/03 mans0n are people commenting on the animation? or the film? the film just sucks! badly! 1 stars
2/20/03 Dave Underrated movie, but I'm into all things Japanese, so that's just me. 4 stars
2/13/03 Loyd OK this movie owns. The ending sux. The characters are weird...Now SquareMovies is dead :'( 5 stars
2/11/03 Ubu the Ripper This is why the Japanese shouldn't make sci-fi movies. Worst ending ever. 4 stars
11/08/02 Phantom8425 Underated, people didn't expect such an unusual story (I expected another Starship Troopers 5 stars
11/05/02 Michael Buehler What amazing potential, utterly unrealized. 2 stars
9/30/02 Zefram Mann If this were a live-action movie it would have made Hiroshima look like a lit fart. 3 stars
9/27/02 John McNew Shows great imagination through AMAZING visuals but stints on story despite its potential 4 stars
9/21/02 syrius what the hell was this shit?u people r just amazed by all the money wasted on the animation 1 stars
9/20/02 Agglepraxis Ten minutes of technobabble followed by a moving and captivating film. 5 stars
9/03/02 P.Rodriguez The Animation was phenomenal, but thestory was a bit thin. Still good first try. 4 stars
6/02/02 Dark Barøn Story not faithful from the series, none of the elements are there. Poor Square Pictures. 2 stars
5/29/02 Butterbean A visually stunning "Aliens" with romance and without the edge-of-your-seat thrills 3 stars
5/15/02 Blake The animation in this film was great! 5 stars
4/06/02 Junshi it wasn't emotionally successful, but somewhat satisfying 4 stars
4/01/02 Joe Schulz You know what sucks about being a Baldwin, Nothing 4 stars
3/18/02 mn i felt asleep halfway through the movie. my brother-in-law's taste of entertainment stinks 2 stars
2/27/02 Alan Smithee The plot is really weak, but the visuals almost make up for it. Worth a rental. 4 stars
2/21/02 FADEUR Fabrice Marvellous animation film 2 stars
2/21/02 Alexander Sila Sorry plot but visually fucking awesome!!!!! 5 stars
2/17/02 Mark Lloyd Loved the animation, but unfortunatley the storyline was blah 3 stars
1/11/02 max zhang seven fifty -- for this? They should've made another Final Fantasy game. 1 stars
12/21/01 Mister Char i copy andrew carden, "Video Games Should Never Be Made Into Movies." 1 stars
12/02/01 The Bomb 69 graphics amazing, storyline solid, good movie overall 4 stars
11/30/01 The $1.98 Pyramid This is a vast departure from the game series. Very disapointing. 2 stars
11/28/01 Andrew Carden Video Games Should Never Be Made Into Movies. 1 stars
11/12/01 Jed It may be flawed but personally it was way too un-mainstream for America. 4 stars
10/31/01 Sumixam Really fantastic movie, surprisingly great, the future looks bright 5 stars
10/13/01 Tracy Willams Disappointed .Lacked the epic plot and story found in the incredible game series. 3 stars
10/08/01 stephen its kewl 5 stars
9/27/01 Jeff Cordray Even though I thought it could have been better, this was my favorite movie of the summer. 5 stars
9/18/01 kelvyn so what if it looks real? Why bother with CG humans when actors will do. I don't get it. 2 stars
9/11/01 Ian Barr Screensaver: The Movie 2 stars
9/08/01 Ian Maloney Square sucks, Final Fantasy sucks, and they wasted their and my time with this movie. 1 stars
8/30/01 Slicer It's got a Squaresoft plot, but this movie owns anyway 5 stars
8/28/01 Justin Fowler Sweet Jesus the future is NOW! 5 stars
8/24/01 fernando gonasd i piss like a cat 5 stars
8/19/01 Matt Jackson Great underated sleeper. A treat for those without a boring mind. 5 stars
8/17/01 Matthew Bartley Feast for the eyes, shame the plot was incomprehendable 4 stars
8/12/01 Nathan The storyline was a bit suspect, but so was Episode I. 4 stars
8/08/01 Sealiah Intriguing dalliance w. Gaia theory; amazing CG 5 stars
8/07/01 ted v. EXCELLENT computer animation, BORING movie! I'd rather play the game than watch this again! 2 stars
8/07/01 Brett Williams Best film ever made 5 stars
8/06/01 Cl1mh4224rd Not just Playstation, you dolt. Breathtaking visuals. Decent story, but could be better. 4 stars
8/01/01 Poy-Poy Nice Graphics, Lame Story and the ending is really sux 4 stars
8/01/01 Elendil Pretty! Pity its plot, chars and style reminded me of a crappy 80s American action movie 2 stars
7/31/01 viking Great animation. All it needs a good story. 3 stars
7/30/01 Ro Sho Excellent editing and overall design. Aki is cute 100%! 5 stars
7/28/01 Dom Corleone Steve Buscemi got some of films worst lines 3 stars
7/28/01 Belinda Absolute rubbish 1 stars
7/28/01 Bill Clinton I like to pack lots of fudge with my friend Joe Stark. Oh the movie....the chick was hot 5 stars
7/28/01 e help! hollywood co-opted my favorite video game, and now it sucks! 2 stars
7/27/01 bront in a word: wow!................ 5 stars
7/27/01 tovah Great animation, characters lame. Save your money, buy the Playstation Game. 3 stars
7/26/01 Denz doesn't make sense 2 stars
7/23/01 nila great special effects 4 stars
7/23/01 Gracy Lionheart Wonderful graphics. A simple story for a short film. (Were you expecting Shakespear?) 5 stars
7/23/01 Eth'mae Look for what it is: Armstrongian step forward in animation. Film purists, get over it. 5 stars
7/21/01 Hawkeye I wanted to like it, but I just didn't care about the characters. Great animation, though. 3 stars
7/21/01 Luke It does the games graphics justice!! 5 stars
7/21/01 sdfk Are they going to let us download the meshes and plugins? 4 stars
7/21/01 Natalie Movie kicked! Great review ;) 4 stars
7/21/01 Ray Raspberry Story was lacking [comparative to the FF games]... Where Were The Swords?! Overall A- 4 stars
7/20/01 davebo great effects and characters less wooden than the Matrix 4 stars
7/20/01 Jeff Unbelievable.... And the trailer didnt just show the best parts! Awesome animation. GREAT! 5 stars
7/18/01 the scarecrow It just kind of abruptly ended, without expaining anything else plot wise. 3 stars
7/18/01 Chris Aki is so intoxicating, you'll break a leg on all the plot holes. 4 stars
7/17/01 ajay good graphics (duh), story wasn't as bad as I expected... 4 stars
7/17/01 Erin Alien:The crappy version 1 stars
7/17/01 Nicht Gefunden So real you forget it's animated - So lame you'll want to cry. 3 stars
7/17/01 Morgan Cranny Visually astonishing, story touchy feely but alright 4 stars
7/17/01 Danglia J. Zen Excellent CG - story got worse and worse 4 stars
7/16/01 ARCbird 99 Awesome visuals, decent story. Great for a video game flick. 4 stars
7/16/01 mo This is an event in the movie industry 5 stars
7/16/01 Shelley Great movie! Story is deep and engrossing. I plan to see it a third time, maybe a fourth. 5 stars
7/16/01 voyant awesome effects, with a good story. 5 stars
7/16/01 Erica Peterka neat-o! 5 stars
7/15/01 Third Ivan Thunderbirds 2001! The visuals are worth the price of admission. Plot isn't everything. 5 stars
7/15/01 Mike visually stunning, definitely the best videogame movie ever created 5 stars
7/15/01 Rampage nice CGI animation and story, proves better than the mediocre Tomb Raider movie 5 stars
7/15/01 strider3700 Bad jokes and shitty dialogue but the story wasn't bad and oh so pretty 4 stars
7/15/01 Mitch Outstanding in EVERY aspect, including story. 5 stars
7/15/01 Trevor beautiful movie, not bad story 5 stars
7/15/01 R Bretlin Hugely disappointing 1 stars
7/15/01 Brian very slow movie but the graphics are good enough to go to it for 3 stars
7/15/01 tommy who gives a shit bout ratings by ol' guys as long as u like it then its good 5 stars
7/15/01 KURT OWENS Clutch Cargo and Godzilla were more believable! 1 stars
7/15/01 RazorDog If you're not a fan of the games you won't get it. 5 stars
7/15/01 RazorDog If you're not a fan of the games you won't get it. 5 stars
7/15/01 MaG Great Movie. awesome computer visuals, and okay story 4 stars
7/15/01 MaG Great Movie. awesome computer visuals, and okay story 4 stars
7/15/01 MaG Great Movie. awesome computer visuals, and okay story 4 stars
7/15/01 MaG Great Movie. awesome computer visuals, and okay story 4 stars
7/14/01 final fantasy very slow movie so far so good. 4 stars
7/14/01 cybersquid Beautiful, fun story. Maybe worth seeing twice. 5 stars
7/14/01 Blood Saber Could have been worse. A great movie smeared by spastic dialogue 4 stars
7/14/01 Drixorial Visuals unlike anything ever seen before, plot pretty average 4 stars
7/14/01 raybass square blew pixar out of the water and beat them with an ugly stick 5 stars
7/14/01 prashant wu its pretty cool...not amazing 4 stars
7/14/01 Michael Dickerson Fans of the games will appreciate it the most! 4 stars
7/14/01 King0fAgarttha It has all the charm and realism of a Final Fantasy Game. In fact... it WAS one. 4 stars
7/13/01 Dr.Paradise Great, beautiful renderation, and a story as rich as all the games 5 stars
7/13/01 CableMage Great Visuals, Great Potential. Whoever wrote the dialogue, however, should be castrated. 4 stars
7/13/01 Dr Doom Thank god you didnt screw this movie up square. 4 stars
7/13/01 Kevlar Beast It's Final Fantasy VII with no interactivity, better graphics, and no likable characers. 4 stars
7/13/01 Human Shield The next standard for animation has your typical Japanimation plot. 5 stars
7/13/01 Nyartholep go see it on a digital projector. 4 stars
7/13/01 Tiroth Good story, amazing eye candy 5 stars
7/13/01 Rachel Unique, beautiful to look at, great story 5 stars
7/13/01 Darren Shea Gorgeous animation can't save this cliched and derivative videogame plot. 3 stars
7/13/01 frank pretty good story; stunning visuals 4 stars
7/13/01 HunterX Reminded me of FF7 near the end, but overall, another really good plotline from Sakaguchi. 5 stars
7/12/01 TheFirkin It's the story that REALLY makes this movie, the rest is just eye candy! 5 stars
7/12/01 guyguy this movie sucks and i hate the stupid hype surrounding it, i could care less about cgi 1 stars
7/12/01 Gentle Fury WONDERFUL!! I loved every frame every second every minute and hour!!!!! 5 stars
7/12/01 FRO! Pretty fucking cool. I was fooled about 1/3 of the time. 4 stars
7/12/01 mr. char What a piece of crap. I completely disagree with the majority on this one 1 stars
7/12/01 azzo! bitch! I like Venus Wars 5 stars
7/11/01 9th hate Why they didn't use radiosity? 1 stars
7/11/01 Travis J. Lehmann Beautiful cgi and compeling story what else do you people want 5 stars
7/11/01 Danny Stedler Looks amazing! Story was good, but it's the CG that makes this special. Top stuff! 5 stars
7/10/01 Neo Lan-ga Bad story 1 stars
7/10/01 John Chambers Amazing visuals. A strong female lead. A dark tone. A nice summer surprise! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  11-Jul-2001 (PG-13)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  26-Jul-2001 (PG)




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