UPDATE 8/21/2001 - Squaresoft forgot the golden rule: design. If you're going to embark on a project that takes three years to complete, a project that resists change intrinsicly, spend more than five fucking minutes beforehand throwing together such a half-ass script. Fuck you, Square. Fuck you up your stupid ass.

UPDATE 7/16/2001 - Well, I probably won't be catching the movie until the end of summer because I'm in the middle of nowhere. Read the lower writeups for reviews, and beware of unlabelled spoilers.

UPDATE 5/16/2001 - Just watched the third trailer. Wow, looking good.

UPDATE 3/29/2001 - A more impressive second trailer is now available. I saw it at Ain't It Cool News, but by the time you read this it should be up at the official website.

UPDATE 3/28/2001 - The website has been revamped and a new (and somewhat better) plot summary has been written.

Full name of the upcoming Final Fantasy movie. Will it be any good? And if it is good, will it be accepted by the masses? Or will all the word-of-mouth hype make it fall flat on its face? Maybe it will plain be really, really bad. Well, we should know July, 2001, since that is the projected release date.

The latest trailer (as of November 14, 2000) is very impressive, with realistic-looking characters that will only improve until the film is released. This is probably the determining factor of the success of the movie. If Squaresoft can get the characters' movements and the talking down, everyone will love it just because it looks so neat. If they can get a relatively worthwhile story that doesn't choke on its own melodrama, that's icing on the cake.

Character names and actors:

From http://www.finalfantasy.com, the movie website:

The year is 2065 and Earth is under siege. A meteor has crashed onto the planet, unleashing millions of alien creatures which roam the Earth. Decimating field and city alike, these predators are threatening to extinguish all life on the planet. {Count: Earth - 2, planet - 2, globe - 0}

The survivors of the initial onslaught have retreated to barrier cities built to protect the inhabitants of Earth from the marauding invaders. But the few cities around the globe are in decline{,} and time is running out. {Count: Earth - 3, planet - 2, globe - 1}

Yet, the sprit of humankind is resilient and embodied in the brilliant and beautiful Dr. Aki Ross. Determined and capable, Aki strives as Earth's last hope against extinction. {Count: Earth - 4, planet - 2, globe - 1}

With the guidance of her scientific mentor, Dr. Sid, and the aid of the Deep Eyes military squadron led by the courageous Captain Gray Edwards, Aki races to save both the Earth and herself. {Count: Earth - 5, planet - 2, globe - 1}

Terminally infected by an alien, Aki holds the key to discovering the secret to defeating the alien predators. But her quest is jeopardized by the militant opposition of General Hein, who plots to unleash a massive space cannon that will annihilate the aliens and possibly the Earth. {Count: Earth - 6, planet - 2, globe - 1 (and alien - 3)}

As the clock ticks down, Aki searches within her dreams to find an answer to the alien mystery, while scouring the Earth to collect the eight spirit waves she believes will save the planet. {Count: Earth - 7, planet - 3, globe - 1)

Fighting both the enemy within and the scheming General Hein, who would destroy the Earth in order to save it, Aki valiantly pursues her Final Fantasy. {Final Count: Earth - 8, planet - 3, globe - 1}

And, thanks to the many synonyms for "Earth", a story synopsis is written.

The old (awful) plot summary:

Set on Earth in the year 2065, destruction and confusion surround us. Cities are deserted, the population decimated, and the precious few humans who remain must find a way to survive.

In this world, we face death as we part with our loved ones {whatever}. We begin to question what "life" and "love" is {are!}, and what is the philosophical definition of the "heart" {what the hell!?}. After all in this world, science has analyzed life and death, expressing life as a form of energy {could this be any more awkward?}.

Beyond the riveting battle scenes, Final Fantasy will take you on a journey of personal discovery into both the real and fantasy worlds, drawing you deep into its characterizations and themes: love, friendship, dreams, adventure, life and death {this is so incredibly sappy that it saddens me}.

See also: Final Fantasy Movie, Final Fantasy Movie Trailer

I want this to work. I really do.


"mmmm....it feels warm", responds Dr. Sid as a chunk of earth Gaia floats through him.

As the movie slides into post-climax completion the only phrase that comes to my head is "WTF?". Now, overall the flic is good. Final Fantasy will definitely be remembered as a technical masterpiece of computer animation, but to call it a great movie would be going too far.

There is a little of everything in the movie that Square built. Action, love, intrigue, aliens, ghosts, alien ghosts, antagonists, protagonists, cool spaceships, dream flashbacks, token black character, big explosions, and poor dialogue. Ahh...the poor dialogue, what a tragic flaw in this would-be diamond of a film.

The stale chitchat intermingled with grandiloquent explanations makes the movie a verbal calamity. The conversation convulses from deep explanations of Gaia, the life-force of Earth, to cheap comedic causerie. But all is not lost because of the caustic confabulation. A team of 230 programmers and CGI artists are able to pull off a real eye-pleaser, with the help of SGI of course.

Seeing the future through the eyes of 175 Silicon Graphics boxes is a neat thing. The visual integrity of Final Fantasy is out-of-this-world. The realism and quality of the characters and scenes is so good that the self-questioning phrase "This is CGI?" is a constant companion throughout the movie. The action and storyline lend themselves to being rendered. The freaky alien-ghosts, Phantoms, could not have been portrayed any other way besides computer animation. The effects used to render them and their interaction with the characters would be an impossibility to conventional cinema. Lauded be the producers and writers for creating a story to take advantage of the computer animation platform.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within will no doubt be remembered for widening the CGI cinema genre, but much to the dismay of Final Fantasy fanatics it will not go down as one of the greatest movies of all time.

And so as the beautifully rendered Aki carries off her dead boyfriend and watches a hawk fly through the mountains, the movie ends, and the juxtaposition of great computer animation and horrible interlocution makes my mind say "WTF?"

Minor spoiler ahead!

After several years of anticipation, today I watched the first showing I could find of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and found myself greatly disappointed.

While the movie had many weaknesses, the main one is the characters' complete lack of depth and development. The sparse dialog between the one dimensional characters seemed very contrived and utilitarian -- just enough to provide necessary background information and keep the predictable plot rolling along, revealing little information about the characters. There were a few amusing one-liners, but for the most part the characters seemed very flat and dry, including the protaganist Aki.

Consequently, as many of the main characters were killed off I felt nothing for them, which sharply contrasts with the strong feeling of connection that develops in many of the Final Fantasy games. I often found myself asking "Who are these people and why should I care that they've died?"
Sadly, the movie didn't really provide me with an answer.

As a Final Fantasy fanboy, there are also a couple of omissions that I can't really hold against the movie, but have still left me feeling a bit unfulfilled. The abscence of swords seemed strange to me, as even in the more sci-fi oriented settings of Final Fantasy 7 and 8 swords found a place. Somehow it just didn't feel like Final Fantasy without a protagonist who weilds a ridiculously oversized sword, and I was a bit let down (Freud might have something to say about that, heh). Second, where is the amazing music of Nobuo Uematsu? It seems very unfaithful to the series to let someone else create the musical score, especially considering the beauty of some of Nobuo Uematsu's orchestral works.

I think the fundamental problem with the Final Fantasy movie is it fails to be immersive in the way the games are, which I feel is a problem inherent in the nature of its medium. I just wasn't absorbed into the world of the movie.

With no sense of interaction with the characters and 2 hours rather than 50 hours of gameplay in which to develop the personalities of the characters, Square's epic tale just can't quite unfold.

Ok, so I finally get to see "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within" last night. I actually didn't see too much hype around this movie, but I knew about it from the web mostly, and because all my friends are always talking about it. Suprisingly I only saw a preview about it once. Commercially I didn't see it hardly ever. I had very high expectations for it, since it was made by Square, and they know how to do things well. I was expecing amazing CG (duh!), a very good story, amazing character development, and a decent plot.

As I was watching the movie, actually fell asleep twice, but only for a few seconds. This is not entirely the movies fault, as I had had a very rough day, and didn't go to bed the night before until 3am. I think I wouldn't have fallen asleep if the movie didn't quite as slow as it did.

After watching the movie, I have to say I was a bit dissapointed, and a bit suprised. First of all, the story itself was very original, interesting, and entertaining. It was perhaps the best hybrid sci-fi/fantasy story I've ever seen. I won't give anything away. The story and plot are very interesting, and carry the movie well.

The CG is easily the best I've ever seen, and that was obviously expected. After watching the first 10 minutes of the movie I almost forgot it was CG. There were a few flaws though. The first was the synch between the lips and the voice. It was very good, but not excellent. It sometimes looked as though their mouths were undermoving for the most part, and they're lips seemed stretched. The next problem was the "delicacy factor". The characters seemed to not want to touch anything, or they did it so gently. Their hands would move carefully and slowly, as if they didn't want to stir the air, or mess up their makeup. This was seen when Aki woke from her dreams, and put her hand to her face. It appeared that she didn't want to fuck up her face or something.

The next thing was the action. All in all the movie seemed a bit slow, and just the same were the action scenes. I'd think fighting invisible-walking-through-wall-soul-destroying monsters would be quite a harrowing experience. These characters seemed like it was a hobbie for them, just another day at the beach, no emotion, no fear. The action seemed too slow.
"Oh geeze harry, the terrible monsters are approaching us. Perhaps we should run."
"Yes, a good deduction, lets jog instead, I've had 1 too many loafs of bread today."
"OK, good call. Lets be on our way."
If it were me, I'd be shitting my pants, and getting the hell out of there in a hail of bullets.

The last thing was the questionable relativity to other films/games/anime. The most notable being the similarity of the "big invisible blobby monsters" and the "mother nature blobby mostster" from the anime film "Mononoke Hime". This is a similarity in both looks and behavior, and general idea. The main control room for the Zeus cannon also looked like Central Dogma from "Neon Genisis Evangelion". Its basically a pit, surrounded by control towers, where the computer display is centered in the pit, and is holographic.

The ending was a bit strange, because the movie seemed to be building up to some big ending, but it just kinda ended the way I thought it would. You'll see what I mean.

All in all, it was entertaining, and thats what movies are for. It is very good on the big screen, and would reccomend seeing it. It just wasn't all that I had hoped for. I give it an 9/10

I quite liked this movie, but was I the only wone to see the similarities to FFVII? I could understand why this might be (as the movie was years in production), but I was a bit annoyed as to the originality problems.

The way I thought of it was that Square had Final Fantasy 7 plot A and plot B. Both were loosely based around the same ideas and themes, but also quite different. The biggest similarity would have to be Gaia. The idea that every living thing has a spirit that returns to Gaia when it dies (and the fact that Gaia can be hurt), is very similar to the lifestream*.

Great movie, but more originality was called for.

They even look almost identical.
Ok, so I saw Final Fantasy today. As anyone who browses my usersearch knows, I am the quite Squaresoft fan. Needless to say, I'd been anticipating this movie for quite some time.

For starters, let's give credit where credit is due. The movie was almost entirely produced and funded by Square, who has no parent company to augment their budget. On top of that, they managed to crank this thing out during the collective development of, among other RPGs, their two blockbuster hits Final Fantasy IX (Nov. 2000 in the US) and Final Fantasy X (Feb. 2002 in the US). As for the above comment about Nobuo Uematsu not scoring TSW, the simple fact that he was busy scoring Final Fantasy X probably precluded him from doing this. The budget here was $135 million USD, about 90% of which was footed by Square alone. Basically, I would've been surprised had this even been a mediocre film. However, it was far better than mediocre. Given the higher-than-expected US gross on the film thus far, I belive Square will probably make a profit on this.

Those who have played Final Fantasy VII (and who hasn't?) will notice many similarities between it and the movie. The protagonists include Aki Ross, the somewhat rebellious scientist trying to rid the earth of the enigmatic alien marauders who had come with a meteorite just three decades prior. She is aided along the way by Doctor Cid (his name is spelled "Sid" in the press releases, but clearly that is not how it should be spelled), and Gray, the macho-yet-sensitive spaceship captain.

One of the interesting things about FF:TSW was the portrayal of aliens as beings of energy and spirit, rather than of flesh. About half way through the movie, Aki makes a startling discovery about the origin and nature of the phantoms (as they are called by the characters), who devour human beings whole on contact, as well as infect and slowly destroy them in lower concentrations. She begins to wonder who, in fact, is really the enemy.

Aki was infected by contact with the phantoms, and has dreams about them whenever she sleeps. She believes, as a result, that finding the 8 "spirit waves" of Gaia, the spirit of the earth (aka the lifestream), will allow them to neutralize the phantoms. Her adversary is General Hein, who figures the best way to get rid of the phantoms is to zap them with the newly-invented Zeus cannon (kind of like the ion cannon in Command and Conquer). Aki and Cid soon realize that this is highly unadvisable, and do their best to stop him.

A lot of things struck me about this movie, one of which was the way color was used as imagery. Anything which was born of Earth was blue - we often equate blue with the earth, the oceans, etc. Anything born of the alien world was red, which goes along with the fact that Aki would always see their world dying in fire when she dreamed.

I'd go more in detail about the CG, but you probably already know. It was done on a ton of SGI machines, it took over two years, they look very lifelike, yadda. We've all seen the FMVs in the video games and we know Square is capable of stunning CG video. TSW is no exception. This is not Toy Story, folks. The people look more photorealistic than any computer generated animation I, or probably anyone else, has ever seen.

While there are no chocobos, moogles, or oversized swords, this movie is definitely Final Fantasy. Most of the "traditions" from FF wouldn't really fit the "dark city" motif of TSW. None the less, this is truly an accomplishment. Major kudos to Square on a job well done.

If you like the FF games, you will like this movie. If you like post-apocolyptic sci fi, you will like this movie. If you're of the philosophy that "special effects = bad movie", or you go into any film just looking for something to bitch about, you won't like this movie. But then again, you didn't need me to tell you that.

With the plethora of references (or perhaps I should say blatant rip-offs) within the Final Fantasy Movie, including the obvious ones mentioned above (Mononoke Hime, Evangelion), I couldn’t help but picture further ones in different places. I kept expecting them to try and decapitate the “head” of the big anti-gaia and put it in a box or for all the explosions to end in a cross shape flaring in the sky.

One, that I didn’t think of at the time, but that a friend related to me later, could have happened at the end, as Aki and Gray are being raised up on that platform. My friend spoke of similarities he saw between that scene and finale of The End of Evangelion. He said that he was waiting for the moment when Aki would lean over Gray and begin strangling him. Now if you haven’t seen End of Eva then you wont get the reference, but it fits, and now I can’t even think about it without bursting into a fit of giggles, the last line of that movie should have beenKimochi warui for sure.

Ok don't get me wrong; though I knocked it above, I still really liked the movie. Visually it was stunning. I think the plot and character development left a lot to be desired, but I went into it with expectations that the movie would be of the same quality as the games. I was expecting to see the same depth of characters that you get in a Final Fantasy game which was a very unrealistic expectation on my part, you can't squeeze the level of character development from a fifty hour game into a two hour movie.

Update October 30, 2001:

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment’s DVD release of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within contains a number of cool Easter Eggs. Their descriptions and how to get to them is as follows:

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (collector's edition) - 2001

Running time: 102 minutes. Rated M 15+1.

Special features:

Technical features:

Yes, there's actually a movie in the midst of all those extras. The "making of" is actually fairly interesting, but most of the rest appears to have been included because it was lying around on a spare drive somewhere. I'm not sure what the difference between the collector's edition and the "regular" edition actually is, or even if there is a regular edition.

All of the "hidden features" mentioned in Wigs's w/u are available as selectable menu items in this version.

More DVD reviews

1 This is the Australian rating. I'm not sure what the equivalent MPAA rating is.

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