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Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Starring: Ming-Na Wen, Alec Baldwin
Director: Hironobu Sakaguchi
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 101 Minutes
Release Date: July 2001
Genres: Action, Animation, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

*Also starring: Donald Sutherland, James Woods, Ving Rhames, Peri Gilpin, Steve Buscemi, David Michie, David Randolph, Steve Alterman

Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

There's a far deeper question than whether the movie-makers were faithful to the inter-active computer game which inspired this animated fantasy/adventure. This is the first major studio release with an entire cast of computer-generated humanoid actors - and the CGI graphics, dubbed 'hyperRealism,' are an amalgam of photography and painting. It's 2065 and Earth has been invaded by spectral aliens. Few humans remain but there's the beautiful heroine, Dr. Aki Ross (voiced by Ming-Na) and her mentor, Dr. Sid (voiced by Donald Sutherland). They're working on an antidote involving various, positive spirit waves which will disarm the enemy phantoms. Aiding Aki, who has a ghost spore in her chest, is Capt. Gray Edwards (voiced by Alec Baldwin) and his renegades, The Deep Eyes (voiced by Steve Buscemi, Peri Gilpin, Ving Rhames). But a reckless, gung-ho military strategist, General Hein (voiced by James Woods), is determined use the highly-destructive, space-mounted Zeus Cannon to bombard Earth with a bio-etheric energy force although its ecological effect is unknown. The "acting" is as credible as in many story-propelled sci-fi sagas and Aki's character combines buff sexiness with spirituality. Significantly, this could be the first Japanese animation to make the cross from cult status to mass acceptance in the United States, a feat at which "Princess Mononoke" failed. The "Final Fantasy" computer game has been popular since its introduction in 1987 and its creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi, worked with director/animator Motonori Sakakibara, utilizing a cliché-laden, contrived script by Al Reinert and Jeff Vintar. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Final Fantasy: Spirits Within" is an innovative 6 - too bad the dazzling 'eye candy' technology was wasted on such a trivial pursuit.

Copyright © 2001 Susan Granger

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