Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The country has been overrun. New York City is empty of human life forms. Ghost phantoms flicker between ruined buildings. Deep Eyes has come here to search for the earth spirit. It is a dangerous mission. They are an elite corps of what used to be called Special Forces. They work for Dr Sid now, who, despite his name, is a scientist and thinker of international repute. Using the I-word implies that things have not changed, when, in fact, the world has been colonised by green octopuses from space.

At this point, all movie sci-fi preconceptions should be shredded. These monsters are not members of the Men In Black club. Their pedigree has not been verified. They can invade a body, like cancer. They can control emotion and order up battalions of Starship Troopers extras. They can be invisible, or not. Against them, Deep Eyes is powerless, which does not stop Aki Ross from trying, or Capt Gray Edwards from doing his duty.

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There is something odd about these two. Their acting's a bit hammy, which is clever, since they are video game characters. How else would you expect them to behave? Angelina Jolie had to unlearn what she knew and become cartoonish in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Why not Deep Eyes?

Final Fantasy is a different kind of experience. It is the closest thing to an artistic masterpiece in the field of computer-generated optical illusion.The wonder of its visual innovation overrides any doubts about the cheesy plotline. By making demands on an audience, who prefer cliche to originality in action pictures, Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creative force behind it, takes risks. The same could have been said of Stanley Kubrick when he ended 2001: A Space Odyssey in a vague hallucinatory dream world.

Aki Ross is a scientist and physician, brave, beautiful and loyal. Gray Edwards is in love with her, which conflicts with his military training. Doc Sid considers himself lucky to have such a dedicated, well-informed assistant, who would do anything for him. General Hein, the army chief, is from the ranks of fascist leaders who wear leather and believe that force excuses everything. His attitude towards the alien invaders is to find their base and nuke it. Aki believes that they are not naturally aggressive and should be treated with respect. "The phantoms inside are beginning to win." She should know. She has been contaminated.

Is this yet another Aids-related metaphor? Probably not. Is it about global warming and how George Dubya doesn't understand the question? Maybe.

Later, when the credits come up, you notice that Aki was voiced by Ming-Na, Gray by Alec Baldwin, Doc Sid by Donald Sutherland and General Hein by James Woods.

You mean, they aren't real people? Yikes!

Reviewed on: 08 Aug 2001
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A select group of scientist soldiers search for earth spirit in devasted America after alien colonisation.
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Symon Parsons **

Director: Hironobu Sakaguchi, Motonori Sakakibara

Writer: Hironobu Sakaguchi, Al Reinert, Jeff Vintar

Starring: voices of Ming-Na, Alec Baldwin, Donald Sutherland, James Woods, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi

Year: 2001

Runtime: 105 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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