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Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Here is the first question that needs to be answered when talking about the High Holy CGI Revolution that is Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within - What does this have to do with Final Fantasy?

I mean I watched the flick pretty closely and there wasn't any sign of Red Mage or Shinra, Inc. anywhere, nobody was gathering pieces of shattered wind crystals, nobody joined the garden military of Balamb, and the King of Tycoon was completely MIA.

So what the heck does this flick have to do with Final Fantasy?

Well, Earth has a life-force, Gaia. That sounds vaguely familiar. And while the main stud wasn't Squall Leonhart, he still kicked ass. Oh yeah, and the director is the guy who created the entire FF franchise, and everyone who worked on it has worked on one of the FF's somewhere, somehow.

But still...

I mean just because James Cameron created The Terminator didn't mean he won a bunch of Oscars for Terminator VII: Titanic.

The only answer is marketing. "If we call it Final Fantasy, people will see it. If we call it Gerber's Revenge: a new film by Hironobu Sakaguchi, they probably won't."

And they're right. Which is a sad, sad truth.

Because this flick is worth seeing, if only to get that "just blasted the top baddie away and now I get to sit back and watch the animation" feeling for two hours.

Here's your plot. Stay with me.

A big meteor crashed into Earth, bringing with it gazillions of alien creatures which we call Phantoms. These Phantoms float through walls, rock, neon Pepsi signs, what have you, and kill us. Very, very easily. They quickly destroyed most of humanity until a scientist discovered an anti-Phantom shield and humanity created a bunch of 'Barrier Cities' where they hide away, safe from the Phantoms but slightly annoyed that they can no longer happily and safely frolic on over 99% of the Earth.

That all happens before the movie starts.

The movie opens with kick-ass doctor chick (remember, this is based on a Japanese video game, so all women will kick serious ass) outside of the shield, collecting weeds. She is attacked by Phantoms, rescued by a bunch of military studs with whom she conveniently has a back story and had brought home to her lab. She and head scientist are trying to find living beings left on Earth and bring them back. They do this not because they are latter day Greenpeace activists, but because they are searching for the 8 spirits. They have 5 spirits. If they get 8 spirits, they can save the Earth.

How you doing? With me so far?

See, the Phantoms have an energy signal, and the scientists want to match the signal with the 8 spirits and overlap them in order to phase them out. Kinda like how a Metallica fan and a James Taylor fan will cancel each other out in a room and end up listening to Huey Lewis.

But wait, there's more.

Mankind has built a giant laser, called the Zeus cannon, and the military wants to fire the Zeus cannon at the Phantoms. But that may be a bad thing, because the Zeus cannon may completely destroy the Earth in the process. And then it just gets weird.

I dunno, they may have gone a little overboard on their plot. I mean it's Final FANTASY, not Final SCI-FI. Where're the wizards? Where're the Goblins? Where're the potions of healing? I'm pretty sure at least three of the Final Fantasies had potions of healing, though I could be wrong.

Plot and story aside, this movie is about a revolution in animation. The entire film was created inside a computer. How does it look?


Buildings, sets pieces, vehicles and aliens all look amazingly cool.

People look really cool when they stand still and face away from us.

When they move, it's wrong. When they try to make facial expressions, it's wrong. Not bad just...wrong. And you can go off all you want about how it's a style or what have you, the fact is, they wanted to make photo-realistic images, and they're not quite there yet.

And when they kiss? Creepy.

Still, far be it for me to not mention the fact that I was pretty into the story, even when I couldn't understand it. I even jumped once or twice when the Phantom beasties got mean. In all, this was fun to watch.

But word on the street is it cost over $210 million to make.

That money could probably have been better spent elsewhere, like creating Final Fantasy XI - XVIII or something.

When push comes to shove, I'm giving Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within 3 1/4 Babylons. Not bad, but what's up with centering an animated flick on an ass-kicking chick and giving her a smaller cup size than Lara Croft? Total waste.

Editor's Note:

I could barely edit this because I could barely understand a word of what the SMC was saying. I take this not as evidence that I am a out-of-touch journalistic has-been making a pittance at a lame job editing the work of an oversexed, untalented geek who can't admit that he's into man-love, but rather that the SMC is missing a few screws.

Final Fantasy: the Spirits Within
Rated: PG-13
Directed By: Hironobu Sakaguchi
Starring: Ming-Na, Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Prei Gilpin, Ving Rhames, Donald Sutherland, James Woods and Jar Jar Binks.

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