With the advent of video games, their influence on the movie industry has been measured mostly by industry flops.
Ghastly errors in judgment such as Super Mario Brothers, Wing Commander and Double Dragon are perfect examples of where the industry attempted to capitalize on the popularity of a video game in hopes that the studio would reap the same benefits.
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is one of the few amazing films that takes its roots from a video game. However, one does not have to know about the game in order to enjoy the movie.
It was a terrific story dealing with the balance of life and death and the precarious relationship humans must balance with nature if they are to survive. It challenges the audience to think of themselves as an integral part of the environment by illustrating how humans are connected to Gaia, the earth energy. It also gives the audience a glimmer of hope that each of us is more not only just a person but a piece of life, a spirit that in the end gives something back to nature and ultimately the rest of humanity.
People may go to see this movie only for the novelty that it has been created completely by computers with no footage shot on film. This should not be the case. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is an outstanding movie in its own right.
Yes, the entire movie was made on a computer. Everything from the background, environment, vehicles, characters, character’s skin, veins, hair and pores, as well as other minor skin imperfections, give this movie the realism often made too perfect in most computer animated films. Every detail was taken into consideration when Hironobu Sakaguchi developed this movie.
There are 60,000 hairs on Aki’s head. Making them flow as she moves her head slightly, or as the flutter of the wind passes through, took 20 percent of production time, according to a press release.
The story takes place in the future, 2065. It has been 34 years since an alien meteor impacted the earth’s surface in the Caspian Mountains. These aliens, which are fierce, red glowing creatures, can “ghost” through anything. And if any of these aliens come in contact with anything living, they consume its life force.
During those 34 years, the surviving humans have set up habitats near the remains of major cities. Barrier City No. 42, located in what remains of New York City, contains the council, the government structure and the leader of the army, General Hein, voiced by James Woods. General Hein is determined to convince the council to fire the Zeus cannon on the alien crater site. The cannon is a space-based laser that was built by the remaining humans to vaporize the alien presence located in the center of the impact crater.
Dr. Sid, voiced by Donald Sutherland, contends that there is another way. He believes that each life form, tree, bird, and human has a life energy which is connected to Gaia. With the help of his colleague, Aki Ross, Dr. Sid explains that once they find the eight spirits they can complete a device that will be able to disperse the alien attackers.
Aki Ross sets out to Tucson to search for the seventh spirit with Captain Gray Edwards, voiced by Alec Baldwin, Ryan Whittaker, voiced by Ving Rhames, Jane Proudfoot, voiced by Peri Gilpin, and Neil Fleming, voiced by Steve Buscemi, who are all part of an elite military group called Deep Eyes. Though at times there appears to be a slight difference in what the character’s are saying when their lips are moving, it is only a very slight occurrence that does not happen often. Ming-na, who voices Aki does an excellent job moving through all the ranges of emotion that Aki must face. She illustrates the horror of turning the remains of a killed soldier only to see a skull rattle inside his or her helmet and the joy of being close to a loved one.
After finding the seventh spirit and making their escape, Aki and the others are almost arrested by soldiers who follow the specific orders of General Hein. The General had given them orders to take them into custody if anything out of the ordinary happened on the mission. When the aliens seem to be drawn to Aki, General Hein’s men see this as a sign that she is working for the aliens.
When Aki and the Deep Eyes squadron return to Barrier City No. 42 with Captain Edwards still in command, General Hein takes the opportunity to try and convince the council that Aki is a spy for the aliens and that firing the Zeus cannon is the only choice remaining. To further his case, General Hein sabotages the controls which keep Barrier City’s shield at maximum strength, intending to let in a few aliens, thus giving the council the final push towards authorizing the Zeus cannon to fire. However, something goes wrong and the aliens infiltrate the defenses and start to destroy the city and kill the inhabitants.
Dr. Sid, Aki and the Deep Eyes squadron make their way to Aki’s ship in hopes of escaping the carnage befalling the city. A few casualties later, Dr. Sid, Aki and the remains of the Deep Eyes escape and head into orbit.
In orbit, Dr. Sid hatches a plan. After discovering the eighth and final spirit in the meteor crater, Dr. Sid plans to land in the alien infested crater, obtain the eighth spirit and finish the wave device that should disperse the aliens.
The general who also managed to escape makes his way into orbit as well, and heads for the Zeus cannon. Though his plan did not turn out exactly as he expected, the council does decide to use the Zeus cannon on the alien formation in the center of the impact crater.
Aki and the remainder of Deep Eyes make their way to the epicenter of the impact crater and make a startling discovery. Any more info and that would give away the ending to this amazing story.
The audience walks away knowing that each human who dies in the fight against the aliens does not truly die. Their life force is taken from their body and flows back to Gaia, the life force of the earth. Further showing we must protect the environment at all costs even if it means sacrificing lives. Aki and Dr. Sid and the Deep Eyes confront not only the aliens but also the close-minded General Hein who will stop at nothing to destroy the aliens even at the cost of destroying earth.