FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN
Columbia Tristar; Rated PG-13; starring Ming-Na Wen, James Woods, Steve Buscemi and Donald Sutherland; directed by Hironobu Sakaguchi
“Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” starts out strong, capturing your attention with computer animation that eerily replicates facial features right down to the pores. But the film fails to keep pace as the plot becomes cumbersome and the intrigue of the digital characters gives way to cold, mechanical gestures.
Like Paramount Pictures’ “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” the story behind “Final Fantasy” is based on a video game. It’s set in a futuristic world with decaying cities and mankind on the brink of extinction. Dr. Aki Ross (Ming-Na Wen), the film’s main character, faces a planet overrun with evil aliens bent on destruction.
The good doctor herself is dying of a disease inflicted by the aliens. Even so, she and Gray Edwards (Alec Baldwin) and Dr. Sid (Donald Sutherland) set out to save the planet from the marauders. Bad guy Gen. Hein (James Woods) complicates the story with his plot to kill the aliens and the three heroes to boot.
The twisted, often hokey story gets more complex by the minute. “Final Fantasy” isn’t one for the kids,I couldn’t help but notice the family of six leaving the Irvine Spectrum’s big screen halfway through.
Computer animation is the star of this flick. The actors merely provide voices for the digital characters. The effects are at times stunning: artists made Dr. Aki Ross’ hair so realistic it flows in the wind as if she just walked out of a beauty salon.
While the movie’s attempt to point, click and create computer generated humans may have been somewhat successful, the character development is in dire need of the human touch.
Even in scenes of strong emotions such as love and death, I found myself saying “so what” rather than feeling a yank of my heart strings.
Unless you’re a computer graphics nerd, you might want to wait to see this one on video, if at all.