Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Anybody remember this flick. Nerds probably do. God knows I have fond memories of it, but recently I found myself  recommending Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within based on those fond memories, which goes against one of my basic tenets in life, because anyone who knows me knows I hate and mistrust nostalgia. However, after watching it in an objective unbiased manner I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s still a pretty good flick.

Released July 11 2001 ( you no doubt realize that is a very important date) and produced by the people who make the Final Fantasy video games, Final Fantasy the Spirits Within tells the story of Dr. Aki Ross, some sort of sci-fi doctor who lives in a world beset on all sides by “Phantoms” alien invaders who have been laying siege on humanity for the past 34 years. Dr. Ross and her old man pal Dr. Sid are in search of “spirits” to create a sort of hippy weapon that will peacefully destroy the Phantoms without harm in the Earth spirit Gaia. Yeah this flick shares a few themes with the recent, moderately successful movie Avatar, but don’t take my saying that the wrong way, I’m not one of those “Avatar is just Dances with Wolves and Pocahontas in space, therefore it isn’t a worthwhile film”. You see there is an important difference between Avatar and Dances with Wolves:

This sucks, Avatar doesn't

So along the way the main chick Aki meets up with a pretty kick ass military outfit called the Deep Eyes. These guys are specially trained to fuck shit up, and they are voiced by Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, and some actress named Peri Gilpin who sounds really familiar but I couldn’t find anything I knew her from. The voice cast for this is actually quite good and moderatly all-star at least in my mind, beyond Baldwin, Rhames and Buscemi, Dr. Sid is voiced by Donald Sutherland, and the bad guy General Hein is voiced by James Woods, and of course if there is moderately serious voice acting to be done Keith David must make a small but important appearance.

While the voice cast is great and for the most part the characters match pretty well, I had a major problem with the look of Alec Baldwin’s character Gray Edwards. Now I love Baldwin, he is one of my favorite actors, dramatic or comedic, and he has one of the most distinct voices out there. His character, however, doesn’t match it. Matter of fact it looks like the people at squarsoft really wanted Ben Affleck.

Like really REEAALLY wanted Ben Affleck

That’s another thing, apparently people at the beginning of the new millenium were really aroused by pixels. Looking through trivia and pictures about this movie I found this:

11 year old me probably would have loved this... i guess

A non-existent person made it onto Maxim’s hot 100 ladies of 2001. Now I know that Maxim isn’t really a high integrity magazine but seriously this just seems odd, and combined with the shirtless GQ pose of CG Affleck, Final Fantasy The Spirits Within probably creeped out a whole bunch of people.

So obviously the visuals excited some people 9 years ago but do they hold up? My answer to that is a resounding mostly actually. There were only a few times when characters looked like corpses on strings (mostly with Buscemi’s comic relief character Neil) and a couple other times when it just looked bizarre like when Sexy McSexpants and CG Affleck relieve the almost unbearable sexual tension between them and kissed, there lips moved in a disturbed way that looked like they were trying to rip off their respective faces. Besides those few moments the flick looks great. The character models on the humans look as life-like as you can expect from CG and the aliens look really freaking cool, until the end of the movie when this giant tentacly thing comes out of a crater, that thing looks really lame but I mean it is made by Japanese dudes, and most of them work on Final Fantasy I don’t think they know how to end a story without a tentacle monster.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within works best if you know what you are getting into. If you expect a lot of weird hippy mumbo jumbo Gaia and spirits talk you’ll enjoy it, there are some good action sequences and some occasionally disturbing imagery, which if you ask anything more from Sci Fi you really shouldn’t be watching Sci Fi.


2 Responses to “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within”

  1. I too have fond memories of this flick, and also haven’t seen it since it came out… perhaps I should follow your lead and give it a watch.

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