Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within Review

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is a 2001 computer-animated science fiction film directed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, voices include Ming-Na Wen, Alec Baldwin, Donald Sutherland, James Woods, Ving Rhames, Peri Gilpin, and Steve Buscemi.  Loosely based on the game series Final Fantasy, the story follows scientist Aki Ross and soldier Gray Edwards as they race to save humanity from a mysterious and deadly alien race known as Phantoms who have driven humanity to the brink of extinction.


Positives:

  • Terrific voice performances
  • Terrific visuals
  • Great score
  • Interesting characters

Negatives:

  • Slow paced plot
  • Characters lack depth

Plot: The premise of the film is actually really good, there are a lot of great twist and the pacing is decent although it does get slow from time to time.  Aki and Gray’s relationship was a pretty sweet subplot that does make the story feel more personal. One the most pronounced aspects of the story that is a bit of a negative drawback is the fact that during certain sequences the film does slow down dramatically. (3 out of 5)

Characters: One of the biggest issues when it comes to the characters is the total lack of exposition. The main cast are comprised of likable and interesting characters that have great personalities but there is hardly any information concerning how they met, their relationships beforehand, how this war against this alien menace actually affects their life as well as their future prospects. Aki is a strong female character and the fact that the film does a great job of actually showing strength through determination and personality but also keeping her feminine. Gray is actually a likable male lead he’s strong he’s smart he has personality and a relationship that him and I could share does feel grounded. General Hein is a good character but he is the typical hardened military vet.  Also, there should’ve been more characters considering how big the operation is. (3 out of 5)

Cast: The English voice cast includes Ming-Na Wen (Aki), Alec Baldwin (Gray), Donald Sutherland (Sid), James Woods (Hein), Ving Rhames (Ryan), Peri Gilpin (Jane), and Steve Buscemi (Neil). The voice performances are pretty solid thanks to the talented cast. (5 out of 5)

Visuals: Visually the film is incredible. Everything from the character detail to the creature designs to the  beautifully crafted scenery has been touched with the utmost care and definitely deserves praise. There is also a lot of great cinematography that can easily be appreciated with the visuals. The character designs and details are so lifelike. (5 out of 5)

Score: The film’s score is pretty good. The voice performers do a great job and definitely give life to these characters. The score is pretty good but it isn’t memorable. As far as the sound effects… phenomenal. (3 out of 5)

Writing:  The overall script is written well, although there is a serious lack of exposition. Hironobu Sakaguchi does a good job with the overall presentation although in some aspects the execution does suffer.  The film does go at a pretty slow pace and the action sequences, although intense, are far and few between.  Some of the dramatic elements do suffer from some cliche’d stereotypes such as Aki and Gray’s relationship as well as Hein’s disastrous obsession.  There is also the fact that the script doesn’t allow viewers to connect with the characters as much as they could.  For one thing, it would’ve been nice to have seen how the meteor chunk impacted the Earth before the events of the movie to help with the exposition.  Also, how are the other cities holding up against the Phantoms. (3 out of 5)


The Verdict:  In the end, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is a good film but not a compelling film.  Despite the lack of character exposition as well as slow pacing the film tells a great premise, good characters, fantastic visuals, great voice performances, and a good score.  Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within gets 3 out of 5.

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