A Very Pretty Mess

Get ready to wave some hippy crystals, because

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is (definitely not) the Greatest Movie EVER!

Review in a Nutshell:  Technically astonishing but emotionally empty, Final Fantasy may have worked better as a video game rather than a full-length theatrical film.  A weak plot and cliche characters diminish the power of the film’s extraordinary visuals.


“Who put this giant cheese grater in my spaceship?”


  1. Oh my GOD this movie blows chunks! It was terrible, not only because the “characters” were like walking mannequins, but because the story was SOOOO full of itself.

    Wait! What story?! What was this movie even about? Someone thought a video game plot would make a great movie? Hell, this isn’t even a good video game plot, and it has virtually nothing with Final Fantasy.

    Dungeons & Dragons was a better Final Fantasy movie, and that movie sucked, too!

    I hate this movie! Hate! Hate! HATE!

  2. Brian says:

    I remember paying to see this in the theater, and i left wondering if it was even a movie. The cg is awesome, your spot on there. I would say the separation point on the final fantasy games is 7 not 6. 6 was that people were figuring out how to take magic and bend it into technology. 7 was all about technology with magic fighting back. AKA destroying the earth using geothermal energy.

  3. dany says:

    I haven’t seen Spirits Within since it came out, but I remember it being okay. Then again, I was fifteen at the time; I don’t mean to say I thought it was a good plot or anything, but I sure was more forgiving. And I sure as hell liked it a whole lot more than Advent Children, which I abhorred. I actually was a fan of FF7, I wanted to see the characters from the game and all, but the directing pissed me off. Quoting Daryl Surat from his well-written review:
    “It’s a neverending barrage of ultrafast cuts, extreme closeups (often of someone’s eyeballs), unnecessary pans and zooms […] and all the other ‘MTV style editing’ tricks […] there is no need to have the camera constantly zipping and zooming around nonstop to show off those details.”

    But the visuals were okay, for the most part. There was some awkward collision detection, but mostly okay.

  4. Sugar-chan says:

    Advent Children was an effing mess. I know absolutely nothing about Final Fantasy, which was to my detriment in seeing Advent Children, but someone said I should watch it for the non-stop, crazy, awesome, wacky fights…it was not very good. And the scene where everyone is throwing Cloud into the air so he can fight the bad guy was so unbearably lame, my body ached as I watched it. I know this comment had nothing to do with this specific movie, and I do apologize, but I’m pretty much turned off to all Final Fantasy related things because of Advent Children…

  5. kaiki says:

    Hello Gooberzilla,

    I disagree with your judgment of this movie. Specifically your criticism that the movie is empty of thematic meat. I find that the movie has a very strong theme. The theme is that when trying to deal with death science does not give a satisfactory answer, while spirituality can.

    You had stated that the director was dealing with the death of his mother and this movie was his way of trying to deal with death of loved ones and what happens after you die. Those questions come through in the film if you view the military as science, the scientists as spirituality and the alien ghosts as death itself. The military has a very clear view of what the aliens are, the enemy, and a clear view on the proper course of action, shoot them. This can be viewed as a perspective on how science views death. Death is when the physical body stops working and the way to deal with death is through medicine, clean living, etc. When you die, your a sack of rotting meat, the end.

    Just as in the Black Hole, how stripping the ending of any “religious iconography” is not satisfactory, using a pure scientific viewpoint does not give a satisfactory answer as to the nature of death and what happens after.

    It is through the scientists, representing spirituality, that a satisfactory solution is found to the problem of death. This is explained as death is not the end and that those that have passed live on, in some way or another. There is more to human beings then the physical body. This is stated very bluntly at the end when Edwards dies. “You’ve been trying to tell me that death isn’t the end.” Aki Ross may mourn Edwards’ death but is comforted that he still exists in another form(I take this from her facial expression at the ending is not one of grief).

    I accept that the movie has many weaknesses, but lack of theme or depth is not one of them.

  6. Zacery Nova says:

    Eh. Not seen this movie, I don’t like all CG/animated films though so will likely never see it.

    – Zac

  7. dork at large says:

    Legend of the Crystals is the definitive version of Final Fantasy in video form. And by definitive, I mean, “I really shouldn’t have bought the $25 VHS tape.” It was appalling.

    Unfortunately, Spirits Within showed up in theaters not long after Final Fantasy 9. I kinda liked that game, but it didn’t hold my attention. And I decided I didn’t like 32-bit Final Fantasies any longer. So that was the point where I went from being an old school 16-bit FF fanboy to a jaded individual who searched for lesser-known RPGs. (Namely Suikoden, Dragon Quest, Atelier, and Megaten/Persona. And since I’m a shoujo fanboy, I have a weakness for Rhapsody.)

    See also TVTropes’ article on “Video Game Movies Suck.”

  8. Firest says:

    I had the good fortune to see this movie in a second-run theater, so I didn’t pay full price to see it.

    My biggest problem with it while watching was….Where’s the fighting?!! I went to the theater expecting to see guys with ridiculous swords beating the crap out of each other, not to see the Marines from Aliens running away all the time because all the scientists were obsessed with mystic gobbledygook instead of inventing the Proton Pack!

    I do think there was a good concept here. The idea of a planets worth of ghosts driven insane by spending millions of years trapped on a rock could make a good movie….and it has, as both Ghosts of Mars and Babylon 5 have proved. It’s just not Final Fantasy.

    And Goob, does the blue-ray version still have the Thriller video easter egg?

  9. Ian says:

    They should have made Terminator: Salvation in this style of animation; considering it was really a bunch of cut scenes and mini-missions.

  10. Asta says:

    Finally Mysticism has triumphed over Rationalism!!

  11. Kimichi Tsuzuku says:

    You know what? If they’d taken the characters/cast from ‘DOOM: the Movie’ and put them in ‘FFSW’ it might have been a better movie. Or conversely, DOOM had had someone from FF do scenery layouts and better dressage on the psuedoscience.

    Its kind of sad that DOOM turns out to be the better movie despite its flaws…

  12. Derek says:

    I saw this in theaters with at least six or seven of my friends whom all loved Final Fantasy. I was the guy watching the 3 second clips they released on the website and I was making FAN TRAILERS for it (discovered video editing around that time), but man is this movie awful. I usually hate when the pop song starts during the end credits (especially in HK films and such) but I wanted to stick knitting needles in my ear during the hawk sequence. I think mostly because I had been so excited about it.

    I agree with all your criticisms because this movie is so god awful. One thing though is that the animation is also horribly horribly stiff. I think they relied too much on motion capture (or had bad motion capture actors) and didn’t tweak enough so it does look like mannequins. Whereas if you watch any cutscenes in FF games around FFX and after it’s smooth and realistic looking.

    As for the detail of the characters I think I read that Sid was the one they spent the most time on (second to Aki Ross’ hair) so his skin texturing and lighting look the best and the marines all look about as stiff and bland as their characterizations.

    Great review, but now I must go back to forgetting this film ever existed T_T

  13. Keith says:

    I wouldn’t say this movie is so much lacking in depth or theme is it is, instead, possessed of the depth and themes that usually occur to college students several tokes into an all-night doobie party. It was one joint away from “what if c-a-t spelled dog?”

    That sort of mystico-science BS is popular throughout all of Japanese science fiction, though. The day they rewrote Godzilla to be the embodiment of the dead souls of World War II instead of a big ol’ radioactive dinosaur…well, son, ya just lost me there.

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