Friday, November 2, 2012

ANI-MOVIES, *Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Long before James Cameron started pimping his Avatar epic, Square Pictures pioneered the world's first full-length photorealistic CGI animated movie. This was based on the hit video game franchise of the same name, although the movie took a more sci-fi approach as apposed to the more high fantasy that most of the earlier games.

Taking place on a post-apocalyptic Earth(that's right, not Ivalice!)in the mid-21st Century, Aki Ross is a scientist who is trying to collect eight seperate spirits, which when combined will create an energy field that will rid the planet of an alien force. The invaders are creatures referred to as Phantoms, which are ghostlike monsters that literally suck the souls out of people. This happened after a meteor crashed on Earth decades earlier, and the Phantoms spread throughout the world and killed off most of the humans. The survivors live in specially shielded cities, who have built a giant oribiting cannon to blast the alien meteorite and save the planet. But Sid, the scientist who created the special Phantom-proof shields, realizes that this might cause the aliens' spirit to take over the Earth's spirit known as Gaia, which would destroy all life. Sid along with Aki are enlisted the help of the special military squad of Deep Eyes, the commander of which is Aki's old boyfriend, Gray. They try to find the remaining spirits, however the vengeful General Hein is plotting to destroy the Phantoms at any cost.

The Spirits Within was the precursor to several other computer animated films that attempted to have the characters(human or otherwise)appear as real as possible, such as Beowulf, Kaena: The Prophecy, Resident Evil: Degeneration, and Negadon. The animation was virtually years ahead of its time, which might have worked towards its disadvantage as some people were possibly just not ready for that kind of advancement in cinema. Granted, it might seem pretty common by today's standards, but when this came out in 2001 it was groundbreaking, and even busts the chops of some of the more recent digital animation.

Of course the biggest gripe most people had was that it had very little to do with any of the actual Final Fantasy games. Most fans of the series expected guys with gravity-defying hair riding on Chocobos and swinging colossally huge swords around. However, the movie offered a compelling sci-fi/action/drama which managed to incorporate most of the better attributes that the games had, mainly brilliant character development and a compelling plot. It truly is an exceptionally great film, and worth a second look for those who are willing to see past the fanboy hatred.

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