‘Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within’ was the 2001 CGI anime directed by Hironobu Sakaguchi and Moto Sakakibara. Screenwriters were Al Reinert and Jeff Vintar.
Aliens arrived and we lost big time. Nations have been turned into vast wastelands. The few remaining cities are one third of their original size. Each plagued by Phantoms determined to breech their force field barriers.
The plot should’ve been Earth’s military and top scientists trying to save humanity and the planet. We’re invaded by alien races that are terraforming Earth.
Scientists scramble to stop and reverse the process. The world’s armies’ band together against a common enemy. It’s fight or die. An anime mash up of Independence Day and Defiance.
Instead we got the key to our survival is collecting eight spirits to supercharge Earth’s life force or Gia. So it can counteract or reject the alien life force transmitted by a large meteor. When someone dies their soul returns to Gia rather going to heaven or hell.
Drs. Aki Ross and Sid race against time to find these precious objects. Meanwhile General Hein just wants to blow stuff up. They have consul wars to rival Chicago. The legend Dr. Sid is well respected and has been able to keep his protégé from tanking her career.
The good: The director was creator of Final Fantasy game franchise. Being the influence for Mass Effect. The voice cast. Being fully immersed in the ground breaking anime. The trippy dream sequences. The cool technology especially med lab. Haunting voice of Lara Fabian singing the end credit song “The Dream Within”.
Raise your hand if you knew General Hein’s death wish and ambition would get himself and others killed. The action sequences in the apocalyptic ruins felt like Escape from New York meets Aliens. The insect and animal aliens’ reminiscence of irradiated creatures run amok in B movie science fiction.
The bad: The plot will take more than one viewing to understand. Why did it take years for someone to figure out the Phantoms were ghosts? Several clichés. Setting up conflict with verbal sparring between Dr. Ross and the mysterious Dead Eyes Leader. Who later turns out to be her ex- boyfriend.
The overzealous military commander. In order for them to believe me I must sabotage this project to showcase its flaws. The black man sacrifices himself so others may live. Proudfoot’s now that Fleming’s dead I should’ve told him I actually liked him moment. This happens right before she dies.
They can be together in heaven. Having ex-lovers Gray and Aki reunite to give the film a love story. Making us believe the soul mates are meant to be together only for one to die at the end. The romance felt forced.
The ugly: Excessive budget + tanked Square Pictures = no sequel.
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