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Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (PG-13)
Columbia Pictures
Official Site
Director: Hironobu Sakaguchi
Producers: Jun Aida, Chris Lee, Akio Sakai
Written by: Al Reinert, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Jeff Vintar
Cast: Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Peri Gilpin, Ming-Na, Ving Rhames, Donald Sutherland, James Woods, Annie Wu

Rating: out of 5

I think it was Ernest Lehman who said, at the Academy Awards, something like, "A movie begins and ends with a screenplay." No matter what else, a movie is only as good as the message it has to send, Louis B. Mayer notwithstanding.

FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN is the first movie to attempt the realistic animation of people with computer graphics. The movie opens in the year 2065, with Dr. Aki Ross(Ming-Na) searching the barren ruins of New York City for a lifeform. This lifeform could be part of the key for defeating the invading army of invisible, spirit-like aliens whose very touch means death. The plot is ultimately less tangible than the aliens themselves and probably not the reason you want to see the movie.

The animation is really beautiful, but Hollywood stars have no reason to look for day jobs just yet. Animation as discovered in Japanime is an easy way to create a futuristic setting or stage explosive fights, but seems to fall flat elsewhere. The subplot involving Aki and the Deep Eyes captain’s (Alec Baldwin) romantic adventures fails as the two are unable to create any "chemistry." The movie seems to drag along during important plot development though this may not entirely be the animations’ fault.

Ultimately, for an incredibly revolutionary movie, there is nothing new here. For the millions spent on special effects, they could have spared a couple of bucks on scriptwriters. Recommended as a DVD rental, so you can talk with friends over the forgettable dialogue, yet still enjoy the eye candy, which is an impressive taste of things to come.

—Woodrow Bogucki

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

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