DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Blu-ray (2001)

Breakthru in CGI animation; failure in script and voice acting

Published on August 29, 2007

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Blu-ray (2001)
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Blu-ray (2001)

Voice Talents: Ming Na, James Woods, Donald Sutherland, Alec Baldwin
Directed by: Hironobu Sakaguchi
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Video: 1.85:1 widescreen anamorphic/enhanced, 1080pHD
Audio: English 5.1 uncompressed PCM; English, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, Chinese, Thai
Extras: Two audio commentaries; “The Making of Final Fantasy” interactive documentary; multiple featurettes; joke outtakes; deleted scene; alternate and expanded opening sequences; trailers
Length: 106 minutes
Movie Rating: **   AV Rating: *****

“Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” is an entirely CGI-animated film from the creators of the Final Fantasy video game series. The film is set in 2065 AD, where alien spirits are threatening mankind’s existence. Scientist Aki Ross and her mentor, Dr. Sid, have developed a plan to defeat these aliens.  As they attempt to implement this plan, which requires the collection of eight specific Earth spirits, Aki and Dr. Sid must also persuade military officials from executing an alternative strategy that would have disastrous consequences.

The primary marketing hook for “Final Fantasy” at the time of its theatrical release was its cutting edge CGI animation.  Revisiting the Blu-ray DVD of the film now some six years later, I have generally positive feelings about the quality of the animation.  The phantoms, vehicles and action sequences are well done and quite impressive. On the other hand, animation of the human characters falls a little short as movement does not look completely natural and facial expressions are sometimes lacking. While the animation does achieve success on many levels, the plot and vocal performances of the film unfortunately do not. The storyline tends to drag and is challenging at times to follow.  Despite sporting some big name voice talent, dialogue between the characters comes off as flat and uninspired.  In the end, “Final Fantasy” is not a great movie but nonetheless is worth watching at least from the viewpoint of being a groundbreaking technological achievement in film.

The high definition video quality of this direct digital-to-digital transfer is excellent. Images are pristine and highly detailed. Blacks are consistently dark throughout the movie. Colors are rich and deep with well-saturated hues.  Picture defect mastering is perfect with no major flaws or compression artifacts.  The overall audio quality is also excellent – especially the uncompressed 5.1 option. The music soundtrack is quite effective. The soundtrack aggressively incorporates all of the discrete channels into its mix.  Dialogue is natural sounding and intelligible. The surround channels are very active throughout, used for both ambient sound effects and the music score, and include multiple split rear effects.  The low frequency effects are robust and powerful.

– Calvin Harding Jr. 

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