Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2 Disc Set)  -
Inspired by the popular video game franchise, Hironobu Sakaguchi's Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is a completely computer-generated film which, unlike Toy Story and Shrek, is also a serious science fiction drama with astonishingly human digital actors. Aki, the female lead, appeared in a full-page spread in Maxim magazine's Hot 100 list--and was indistinguishable from the real-life models. The setting and conflict make for incredible action, but it's the larger issues, character interaction and human elements that really make the movie shine. The Spirits Within is not simply a science fiction movie, in the same way that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is not simply a kung-fu flick. The result is a fantastic summer movie with better action and more emotion than Pearl Harbor and actors more lifelike than those in that other video game movie, Tomb Raider.--Mike Fehlauer, Amazon.com
On the DVD: disc one includes an interesting, if a little flat, director's commentary. Better is the isolated score with a superb and fascinating commentary from composer Elliot Goldenthal. Other options allow you to access more information about the film. The menus are clear and feature full CGI effects and specially created sequences. Disc two is where you will find the real meat, with literally hours of documentaries and technical promos to plough through covering every aspect of the filmmaking process, along with music videos and an alternative opening sequence. You can re-edit a short sequence from the film and there's also a wealth of DVD-ROM material offering the complete screenplay and an interesting tour of Square Pictures, makers of the film. Features like the FHM-style photo shoot of CGI heroine Aki give an indication of the target audience for this movie. Add all this extra material to the superb picture quality--which almost leaves you convinced that you are watching a live action movie--and crystal sharp sound and you have one of the most technically impressive discs to hit the market so far. Any DVD buff will need this just to prove that the format is a worthwhile investment.--Jon Weir
Customer reviews (av rating: 4.0):
Spectacular : First of all, this film isnt related to any final fantasy, its simply a story from the producer of final fantasy created after FFIX.
With a plot as stunning as the visuals, this film keeps the storyline genius of the final fantasy series, with famous voice actors such as alec baldwin and james woods.
The music is as always a perfect score, even though it isnt from the normal composer (Nobuo Uematsu).
It was made because the producer wanted to tell a story in a different way, but if this were a game it would be beautiful, but the graphic's would have suffered. It may take a couple of minutes to get into it but you'll get hooked after some sensational scenes in which the main character Doctor Aki Ross emerges in a dream on a foreign planet in the middle of a huge battle.
If you like the FF game series, you should like this, if you don't, the graphics will surely tempt you.
Final Fantastic! : As soon as I started watching this film, the first thing to hit me was the quality of the animation and the graphics behind it.
It is so slick and detailed, the textures of the backgrounds are realistic that they look photographic. You do also notice that some of the human movements are CGI rather than real - but your eye adjusts to what it is seeing and you find yourself happily accepting everything.
The visuals alone would give this a few stars, the plot helps this film develop into something a bit special, but I felt the end let it down slightly.
It's been commented on that the film seems to have been influenced by Alien - and that's not a bad thing, it feels dark, you often feel on edge. I 'm not too sure whether I should find a CGI animated sprite quite so attractive though ...maybe I need to watch some more live action films!
The characterisations were done believably, there was a lot of humour, the politics and plot were complex enough to ensure the film was not boring.
I really enjoyed this, sometimes the characters seemed a little cold, and as I said before, the ending didn't impress me as much as I thought it would. But having seen the film - it's one I think as a worthy member of any sci-fi fan's DVD collection!
A work of sheer genius : This film is absolutley stunning!
The cgi in this film is the best i have seen! There are moments in the film where you could almost beleive you were watching a live action film and not animation.
There is a good storyline to the film as you would expect from something bearing the final fantasy branding. the voice acting is brilliant with some big names doing voices in the film (James woods and Steve Buschemi to name just 2 of them).
The animation is phenomenal and the way that Aki's hair moves when she moves her head is very realistic as are the facial expressions of all the characters. One testiment to how realistic these characters are is that Aki appeared in an American magazines top 100 sexy women list and a lot of people never realised she was computer generated!
Final Fantasy: just without the fantasy : ok ok this film is not a scratch on FF7: Advent Children but is a bloody fantastic film, the graphics are amazing and the story line aint half bad either, perhaps the characters aren't as enjoyable to watch/play than in other FF titles but overall a great film.
One thing that does annoy me is all the people who say its a crap film just because it doesnt have chocobos or materia or magic in general are wrong. It isnt at all like the FF games but that doesnt stop it being a good film
Maybe not FF as we know it but im not complaining
Good sci-fi movie, enjoyable as a stand-alone product : This film is an excellent evening's entertainment, featuring breath-taking animation, a cracking cast of well-known actors doing the voices, some really imaginative scenery and backdrops, and an acceptable (if not original) plot.
If this film had been produced as a live-action movie then it would probably have been as popular and celebrated as Aliens; it has much the same kind of feel to it. And I suspect some of the characters owe a lit to Aliens; is any sci-fi movie complete without a Vasquez??
The animation in FF means that the director can visualise many effects which would otherwise look clunky alongside live action. Some of the dream sequences in FF are stunningly beautiful, while the expressions and actions of the human characters are extremely well drawn.
If FF suffers in any aspect it is that the maturity of the animation and charaterisation aren't reflected all through the plot. The bad guy is very much a boo-hiss traditional villan, although at least Aki the heroine is a little more complex. The film tries to bridge the gap between game-players and cinematic depth -- and it comes close to succeeding. It does feel a little lightweight at times, though.
The special features were something of a disappointment; no doubt interesting if animation is your game! I wouldn't pay more for a disc simply to get these features. If a vanilla version of the movie is available for less money, then that's what I'd buy.
Overall, it's a very entertaining movie and one which is suitable for the whole family to watch together. It has no relevance to the game of the same name -- you don't need to know anything about the franchise to enjoy the film.
And in places the ground-breaking animation is simply stunning, and it's worth viewing simply to experience these scenes.
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