Written by Hironobu Sakaguchi, Al Reinert and Jeff Vintar
Directed by Hironobu Sakaguchi

Running Time: 1:53

Rated PG-13
for sci-fi action violence

Ming-na Wen
as the voice of

Alec Baldwin
as the voice of

Donald Sutherland
as the voice of
Dr. Sid

Peri Gilpin
as the voice of
Jane Proudfoot

Steve Buscemi
as the voice of

Ving Rhames
as the voice of

James Woods
as the voice of
General Hein

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I'm not a huge sci-fi fan, but I found Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within to be an entertaining film. The animation of course was amazing, and the story was interesting enough to hold my attention.

It is the year 2065. The Earth has been overrun by aliens, fallen from the sky aboard a meteor years ago. These aliens are unseen except by direct energy light, and when they attack, they steal your spirit. Aki and Dr. Sid have an idea about how to get rid of these aliens, but it involves finding 8 spirits and using that energy to dissolve the energy of the aliens. However General Hein has other ideas. He laughs at the notion that the Earth has a spirit and he wants to blow up the aliens with a space laser called Zeus. But using Zeus could destroy Earth as well. Along with a military team, Aki and Dr. Sid must race against the evil General and try and get rid of the aliens without getting rid of the planet.

Obviously the biggest draw to Final Fantasy is the animation. Everyone has been talking about it, Aki has been featured in magazine layouts, heck there's even talk about putting her into another movie that has nothing to do with this one. The look of the movie is incredible. While animators still haven't, and may never, get a human face and movement down perfectly, they've come fairly close. After a while you don't see the characters as animated characters, you see them as people. Which brings me to my next point.

Unlike Disney's foray into computer generated animation with last year's Dinosaur, Final Fantasy actually has a decent story behind it. Once you get past the 'wow' factor, you need something to keep the movie interesting. Dinosaur looked amazing visually, but once you got over that, the story was boring and uninspired. With Final Fantasy once you got past the fact that everything was animated, you moved on to the actual story. While it may not be up to the standards of true sci-fi fans, I found myself getting into the story, and cheering for Aki and Grey, and hoping the evil General would die. The down side was something that happens in all action films, the requisite love story. The relationship with Aki and Grey was nice and all, but everytime they got intimate and needed to 'talk' about stuff, the movie slowed down. Thankfully those stretches didn't last too long, and we got back to the great action sequences.

The voices in animated films I have always said play a large role in whether a movie is good or not. Shrek was funny to me largely because of the vocal talents of Eddie Murphy. Final Fantasy is good largely because of James Woods as the evil General. His character reminded me a lot of the one he played in Contact. A power absorbed individual who didn't believe anything anyone else told him. I also thought Donald Sutherland as Dr. Sid was very on target with the character.

So overall I enjoyed Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. It wasn't something I was looking forward to at the beginning of the summer, but once they changed their advertising, and started to focus in on the story and the action, I got more and more interested. The animation is amazing, and just as importantly, the story kept me entertained.

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reviewed 07/11/01

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