Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within Review


It’s time to take a look at the original Final Fantasy film. I saw this one a long time ago when I was a kid. I remember enjoying it back then so I wanted to revisit it and see if the film was as good as I remembered. It’s certainly a very interesting take on the series since it really has nothing to do with Final Fantasy. I suppose that you could say the same about most Final Fantasy games, but at least they all have the standard enemies and a lot of the same lore. This feels like it is Final Fantasy in name only. It’s a good story that is bogged down by not really having any direction.

Aki’s world is in a very perilous position. It is now a desolate wasteland that is infested with aliens. Everyone now lives in a space station as they seclude themselves from the rest of the world. Going outside for even a moment without a space suit will result in you getting infected and turning into an alien/zombie. Aki works for Doctor Sid and they believe that they have a cure. They simply need to find the 7 (I think it was 7) Gaia elements. Every living thing has a soul, which is a Gaia. There are 7 chosen ones which are needed to blend together and power a generator which will essentially make the virus inert. The only problem is that the government is tired of waiting and they don’t believe in the whole Gaia thing. They want results and they want them yesterday. General Hein proposes that the government use a giant cannon to fire at the planet. Sid admits that this could work, but that it could also destroy the planet’s soul. Two very different approaches, but only one of them will ultimately work. Who will strike first?

So, that’s a pretty interesting plot line. The film also starts off right away as Aki breaks the rules and quickly heads down to the planet to grab a sample. She has a brief skirmish with the aliens, but is saved by a group of soldiers. I don’t really get Aki’s plan here though since she seemed surprised by the aliens and was also not prepared for a fight. She wouldn’t have lasted long without the soldiers so the mission would have been a waste. Unfortunately, the scene is rather dark and the camera keeps shifting so we don’t get a proper look at the fight, but it is a very atmospheric way to start the film. It’s very tense and feels like something out of a Resident Evil film. Unfortunately, things slow down from here.

We don’t really get another fight scene until the very end of the film. The next large chunk of screen time is on Aki and Sid discussing Gaia, the fate of humanity, the aliens, and we also get some romantic tension between Aki and Gray. That goes on and on and on for quite a long while with the side characters also getting some development. At the very end of the film, Hein unveils his big plan to invite the aliens into the base to scare the authorities and make them give him authorization to shoot the cannon. The aliens come in and quickly overwhelm everyone for a while until the Gaia are assembled. That gave us another action scene, but not really a fight scene. It’s mostly just everyone running from the aliens.

That made the first bit of the film a little misleading since it had a lot of action and was gearing us up for something epic. I also think that the rest of the film was a bit of a missed opportunity since the heroes were safe and peaceful inside of their base the whole time. That kind of destroys the tension since we know that there is no way for the aliens to get in. We do get a big plot twist about the aliens and we learn why these spirits are intangible. It’s actually a little self explanatory and you can put the pieces in place yourself. Think about it…why would these Aliens be spirits? How do people typically turn to spirits in these kinds of things? Just think about it and it should come to you. The twist wasn’t bad in itself, but there wasn’t much of a point behind it. Nothing ever came out of this revelation and it didn’t change the final objective.

As the main character Aki is fairly good. I always like the “Take charge” characters so breaking the rules to go and save the day was cool. However, not being prepared wasn’t really excusable. Aki’s random visions were intriguing, but they kept distracting her from what was actually happening. The romance also made for another distraction. I liked what they were going for with Aki, but I feel like she definitely could have been a better character. The same can’t be said for Gray, who never shows signs of being a good character. He’s annoying from the get go and again…the romance just wasn’t handled well. He seems like the kind of guy who panics very quickly when things don’t go according to plan and he just wasn’t very useful. There wasn’t much to Gray and he was just there to be the tough army guy. That was his only character.

Sid was a nice enough guy, but a fairly generic scientist. He was pretty smart and at least he wasn’t afraid to state his opinions, but he also wasn’t bold enough to discuss Gaia with the council. It’ll be a little hard to convince the council of anything if you aren’t being straight with them. I had nothing against Sid though, he wasn’t a bad supporting character. The best character here was actually Hein. He was the main villain and he showed a lot more drive than the rest of the cast. I don’t necessarily disagree with his plan to use the cannon since the planet was already uninhabited and since I also wouldn’t believe that the planet is actually alive, I’d definitely take the shot. Naturally, he went off the deep end when he let the aliens into the city and put everyone in danger. That’s where he became the main villain, but at least he had real goals and aspirations. He didn’t strike me as a one note villain and he performed the role pretty well. It was a small cast, but that doesn’t take away from Hein’s win.

The graphics look pretty good. They’re nowhere near Advent Children and I suspect that the film was constantly very dark and vague in an effort to mask everything that was on screen, but it still looked good overall. It doesn’t compare to the average anime film, but CGI rarely does. We also didn’t get many action scenes as I mentioned so there wasn’t much of an opportunity to show off the animation either. Unfortunately, there isn’t much of a soundtrack either. It’s not bad, but very forgettable and you probably won’t remember it a few days after you finish the film. It’ll just be completely gone as far as you’re concerned.

While this may not sound like a very positive review, it was still a good film. It was just riddled with missed opportunities and a lot of moments where the film could have really shone. I mean really…how hard would it have been to have included some more action scenes? Having some visible action moments would have been great and since they put a lot of budget into the film, I like to think that it could have handled some day time fights. I think the film may have been trying to look a little too realistic which ended up hurting it a bit, but that doesn’t really make up for the pacing. Still, the actual concept was interesting and the plot was good. Action or not, you shouldn’t get bored while watching the film, but it does mean that it has low replay value.

Overall, You should check this out if you’re a sci-fi fan and like a good apocalyptic future kind of film. If you’re a Final Fantasy fan, don’t watch this film in that mindset. Treat it like a Final Fantasy product and you are bound to be very disappointed. The decision to make this a stand alone doesn’t really make any sense, but it happened and we did get Advent Children around the bend anyway so that more than made up for it. Watch this once and then you’re basically set for life. I don’t think I’ll be watching this one a third time myself. Once you’re done, just think about how cool a prequel would have been about the actual alien race instead of the spirits. That would have solved a lot of problems.

Overall 6/10

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2 thoughts on “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within Review

  1. I remember when this was first announced. I expected a lot of cool fight scenes, like the games battles and FMVs. There was only me, my mom, and 1-2 other people at the theater, and it was on opening day or close to it.

    • That’s pretty sad that the theater was so empty that early on. The film really did flop and I guess I can see why a lot of people wouldn’t have been interested enough to check it out, but it’s still a shame. I definitely would have loved to have had some more fights as well. It just didn’t feel like a Final Fantasy film.

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