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  Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within  
  Hironobu Sakaguchi  
  the voices of Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, James Woods, Ming Na  
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This movie features no actors or actresses -- everything you see on the screen was rendered with a computer. And it all looks unbelievably real. No, seriously -- there is this scene at the end of the movie where an eagle is flying over some mountains and i swear it looks filmed -- it's that realistic.

The people look a little less realistic. A little. If they just stand there you can believe that they are people. Even talking they look realistic. But facial expressions just haven't been mastered by the software that created the images, and so when they are moving around a lot or having a heated discussion the characters look lifeless.

The rest of the animation is great. The ruined cityscapes are cool, the semi-transparent aliens also look really cool. (Heck, they were an accurate representation of every semi-transparent alien i have ever seen!)

The animation was great, but the plot could have used some work, quite frankly. It is a movie based on a video game series, which i have never played, so i don't know how true to the game this is. Apparently, Final Fantasy is a "shoot em up" type game. Like Doom i guess. There are many scenes wherein the characters are running around zapping the semi-transparent aliens. The movie also progresses in general level of "badness" of the monsters. In the first scene they are small, in the middle the monsters are bigger and more deadly, and at the end the monster is massive. It was as if at the end of the film the characters had to fight the "boss monster" like in Mario Brothers or something. I guess that is kind of a standard in video games, and thus necessarily translates to a movie based on a video game.

So basically you have this game about blowing up semi-transparent aliens, and some really cool animation. In order to make a movie you also need a good story, and i get the impression that this came last in the design of the film.

The movie is all about "spirits". World spirits, plant spirits, etc. It all seemed kinda New Age-y to me. Actually, i would guess that it was Shinto. I don't know much about that religion (being non-Japanese), but everything that the characters were saying seemed to be a pretty poor re-phrasing of the general "spirit" thing that is associated with Shinto in the books on Japanese culture that i have read.

Now, i am not really a New Age-y type, nor do i follow Shinto, therefore, the philosophy espoused in the film seemed pretty cheesey to me. But it was only the plot -- easy enough to ignore with the great animation.

And that, i think, is my recommendation to you: go see this film for the animation. If you are into that kind of stuff it's great. If you're not into animation though, then this film is not going to have anything to offer you.

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