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Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (DVD)

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  • Not like the games
  • lack of emotion
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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      12.12.2009 01:53

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      What does this have to do with the FF series!?

      note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room

      The Final Fantasy series is perhaps the most deserving video game series of a good film adaptation, given how each installment has been consistently great (near enough). When news first broke that a Final Fantasy film was in the works, I was overjoyed, although then rather disappointed to find out that the story would have absolutely NOTHING to do with anything we've ever seen in the games. I was, however, enticed by the impressive visual effects which were, as James Cameron's Avatar seems to be this year, a huge milestone in the advancement of computer generated imagery. There was much talk at the time of its release that films like this are going to put actors out of work, and while this is great, they haven't quite gotten there yet.

      The plot is a big mouthful of nothing: it involves a scientist named Aki Ross who is teaming up with other scientists to try and harness a life energy, while the nefarious government try and stop them. The plot isn't really important because they haven't really made much effort with it: it is more about the visual experience, and from that perspective, it does totally deliver. The CGI still holds up very well today, and it's clear where the $135m has gone, although sadly more thought should have been put into constructing a plot that would please series fans and just fans of good narrative storytelling.

      Technically, this film was an outstanding achievement, but as a fan of the games, this left me underwhelmed and it felt like the Final Fantasy title was just tacked on for marketing purposes.

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      23.07.2009 20:49
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      There is no good reason no to see this film.

      Most people didn't like this film because it was noting like the games, I on the other hand saw this first and was disappointed by the games. It's a great sc-fi film which every one of almost any age should like even if you have played the game because it has something for everyone and look fantastic.

      (WARNING! Possible Spoiler) the story: a meteor fell to Earth and aliens started to kill any one they touched. Humans have made barrier cities that keep them out and aim in the end to blow the aliens off the face of the Earth. But the main character (Aki) and renegade military unit try to discover how they got here and why and eventually find a way to get rid of them even though it is a controversial topic in a mainly military ruled society where the baddy is willing to do anything to do what he thinks is right, even it means Aki and her friends die.

      It is animated beautifully which not many films have managed to do. The animation means the character look like they are in these fabulous places and structures that would be almost impossible to create in real life and they can wear costumes that would be a struggle to really wear. It also features the voices of top stars like Alec Baldwin, James Woods and Steve Buscemi.

      I recommend this film to any fan of sc-fi films and any fans of the game because if it wasn't called final fantasy... you would love it so just ignore the titles.

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      26.05.2009 01:23
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      The movie is worthwhile wtaching if you enjoy sci-fi or fantasy

      Well I probably have missed somethign here, maybe from not every playing the game Final Fantasy PS2, or online, but from watching this movie it has nothign to do with the games I have played.

      While the games are a nice RPG fantasy game, this movie being a fantasy movie, seems very different.

      Saying that, this movie is pretty enjoyable.
      For starters it has a good cast, and afterall how can you not enjoy anything Steve Buscemi and Ving Rhames in it.

      The movie follows a typical Humans in middle of a loosing war trying to win story line where a small group actually save the day.

      The movie as I gathered was to demonstrate a complete moive using computer graphcis, and this does, and it shows a very good movie, which has led the way to a lot of other movies with the same sort of quality.

      My opinion of this movie is that this is a fully enjoyable sci-fi fantasy movie, yes it animated or should I say CGI movie, but it is still very enjoyable for adults.

      The DVD also comes with a load of extras with movie commentaries, storyboards and various interactive parts, makes the DVD fully enjoyable even after you have watched the movie.

      If you like sci-fi, if you like fantasy then this is definately a movie worth watching. Its not heavy, you wont need to fully focus on it, but it does provide nice pleasant entertainment.

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        24.04.2009 14:32
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        A fantasy flop.

        I saw this film the other day and not for the first time I couldn't bare it till the end. Final Fantasy, directed by Hironobu Sakaguchi and Moto Sakakibara, was an animated movie that held much promise before it was released 8 years ago, but turned out to be a Sci-fi fantasy flop. Voice overs by such distinctive actors as Steve Buscemi, Alec Baldwin and James Woods along with a reasonably good soundtrack were not enough to rescue such a feeble plot and a mind numbingly predictable script.

        The film is set in 2065 after the Earth has been struck by a comet that has left the inevitable destruction and chaos in its wake. Further mayhem is unleashed by ghostly aliens who have hitched a ride on the comet. The remnants of the human race take refuge in shielded cities and are faced with the task of saving the world and banishing the deadly spooks. The central female character is Dr Aki Ross who, along with her colleagues Dr Sid and Captain Gray Edwards, confront the aliens head on.

        But these are not the real stars of the show. The real stars are the 64,000 individually animated strands of hair on Dr Aki's head. In fact nothing else in the film is as remotely interesting. You can't take your eyes off Aki's lovely swishing hair as she flicks her head this way and that. You almost expect her to look up, stare directly into the camera and utter the immortal lines "because I'm worth it". I'm surprised L'Oreal didn't sign her up. But Aki's hair is simply too perfect. Whenever there's a breeze - and there's always a breeze - every strand falls exactly back into place. Her immaculate coiffure never gets ruffled and seems miraculously immune from the adverse effects of desert dust storms and rocket fumes. Maybe all hair will be like that in 2065. Mind you, in this film she seems to be the only one with moving hair (or a remarkable hairdresser). All the men have slap-on hair-dos with all the rigidity of an Elton John toupee.

        A major challenge for CGI is the trying to depict the effects of gravity. In Final Fantasy this problem is partially avoided by making the bad guys wispy spooks that float around all day. The humans however, are unable to walk with the heavy tread of real people, you might say that they have difficulty finding their feet. They can't run properly. Sprinting and dashing about is out of the question. When knocked to the ground they fall gently rather than dropping with a thud. The use of exaggerated sound effects and a dramatic soundtrack only partially hides the problems associated with weightlessness.

        The animation of the usual Sci-fi paraphernalia: spaceship interiors, robots, rockets - is effectively rendered but the CGI humans all have shiny rubbery skin and are incapable of true emotional expression. Each character's face seems infected by rigour mortise. They rarely laugh or smile. The difficulty in CGI of reproducing facial expressions is probably due to the fact that it takes 22 muscles to smile and 37 muscles to frown (according to experts). With simple animated cartoons or stop-go animations you can rely on exaggerations of just a few facial features such as for example, raised eyebrows and a gaping mouth. This is one reason why characters such as Wallace and Gromit possess far deeper human characteristics than any 'human' in this film. The central character Dr Aki has a permanent sultry look that is I suppose almost human but like most of the others she is unable to effectively move and shape her lips in time to the words that are supposed to come out of her doll-like mouth. Ultimately this is a soulless film filled with soulless entities.

        Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
        Runtime: 106 min

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          08.03.2009 14:38
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          A poor excuse for a sci-fi film.

          Humanity is at war with the Phantoms, an alien race that has crash landed on Earth. Now a barren wasteland, humanity has fled to the few remaining cities behind barriers which protect them. General Hein wants to destroy the Phantoms with a huge gun, potentially damaging the Earth in the process. Doctor Aki Ross thinks she can bring things to a more peaceful conclusion by finding the "Spirits" that negate the Phantom's threat. In a race against time Ross has to find them before Hein can persuade the Earth's council to fire the gun. Oh and coincidentally she is infected by a Phantom so Earth's saviour would also be hers.

          "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within" leaves me feeling totally empty. It is an absolute nothing of a film that made no impact on me. From it's weird save the planet environmental angle to the hippy spiritual vibe I felt preached too and almost endlessly irritated. This is not helped by an awful cast of stereotypes that makes this pure sci-fi by numbers. The evil nazi-like General, the tough yet vulnerable lead, a sacrifical crew of brawn and wise-crackers it is truly predictable stuff. The emphasis on Dr Ross gives no time for any of the surrounding characters to bed giving the film a detached feel. Are we supposed to care when the unwitting crew get inevitably picked off by the Phantoms? If so give us some backstory on the characters eh!

          With a an equally weak sub-plot of romance between equally stubborn Doctor Ross and Captain Edwards also very weak and largely unconvincing as the special effects team seem so obsessed with the CGI on our leads her that there is more focus on her hair tossing than a Loreal ad. I mean really, is there a constant wind in this film? As voice acting in an animation goes, everyone is adequate enough but are hardly inspiring. The always interesting Steve Buscemi as Phantom fodder Neil gets the best lines and the most interesting character as per usual is our maniacal villain, played ably by James Woods. At least here we get some reason given for his madness. However, the rest seem trapped by stereotype in a poor excuse for an alien film.

          When the action picks up there is some interest as Phantoms can be unseen to the naked eye and come through floors and ceilings. However, as they pick off the cities inhabitants you care so little you almost root for them. This animation seems to have been made purely to show off some special effect and cutting edge CGI. However, the makers clearly forgot to include any reasonable interest in the plot or the dialogue which is largely pointless. As computer game film conversions go, this is one of the worst I have seen. There is just nothing about it and should have been a straight to DVD release. However, this is not to say I recommend renting the DVD. It would be one of the most boring, over inflated 106 minutes of your life.

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            08.06.2004 04:46
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            Despite the film being based on the ever-popular Japanese RPG series that has had a long running history on a number of consoles, most recently the PS2, and the fact that it boasted the most sophisticated CGI ever seen in a film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within stung the bank pockets of Square Studios when the $137m film grossed just $37m in the States, £2m in the UK and ended its theatrical run with a meagre $61m to show for its efforts. It seemed that the audiences actually paid attention to the critics when the argument of ?style over substance? was levelled over the film, pretty to look at but not much there beneath the glossy surface. It does seem, judging from the premise; this seems to be the case. The year is 2065 and, like most futures in films, the Earth is a desolate shell of what it once was lying in ruins and the small segments that are still standing are dreary, depressing areas protected by barriers. These barriers are to keep out the ?Phantoms? that have been waging a war against Earth for a number of years and, the clue is in the name, the Phantoms are sneaky blighters, which can rarely be seen by the naked eye leaving humans in constant fear. As the war goes on the Earths council, probably made up of the finest politicians, military and celebrities known in that time, are facing two options to eradicate the Phantoms. The first is to aim a massive gun at the main problem and blow it up, as proposed by General Hein (James Woods). The other is put forward by researchers Aki Ross (Ming-Na) and Doctor Sid (Donald Sutherland) who put forward the idea that by collecting eight spirits they can contain and eradicate the Phantoms from Earth without any negative effects. As ever in these situations the council are undecided and so, while General
            Hein plots against Aki, the woman in question continues her quest to find the two missing spirits. This is not aided by the fact that she herself is infected with a Phantom and has these weird dreams involving the back story of the Phantoms and how they came to Earth in the first place. She is, however, aided by a few soldiers. Captain Gray Edwards (Alec Baldwin), of whom she has a romantic link with masked with dislike, Officer Neil Fleming (Steve Buscemi), Officer Jane Proudfoot (Peri Gilpin) and Sergeant Ryan Whitaker (Ving Rhames). All very humdrum but if you are not too picky about wanting to watch a deep, philosophical film then you wont go far wrong with watching this, it?s certainly not original but it is interesting enough to go along with for an hour or so. The main draw to the film is, of course, the incredible CGI animation which, at times, even puts the mighty Pixar at shame though it isn?t really fair to compare this to a Pixar film as this is very much grounded in looking ?real? (or as real as a film can look based in 2065) and it does it extremely well. The character animation, an integral part in any animated film, is spot on the characters are not humanly realistic but its about as near as it can get. Aki?s hair, a much talked about point in the film which must be a first as it doesn?t involve nipples, is a testimony of painstaking animation processes, each strand flows naturally corresponding to each movement and it really does look real. The rest of the characters all look the part too but don?t have as much care lavished upon them as they all have the short cropped hairstyles and the other lead lady has her hair very firmly tied back but that?s hardly surprising because the film could have taken another four years to make if they all had the same amount of detail as Aki. The rest of
            the film shows the same standard of presentation and, although the environments still bear the stereotypical run-down future Earth of several shades of grey, they still look suitably detailed. The effects, especially the abundant explosions, are pleasing to the eye and do actually look fairly real and the transparency effects on Phantoms is also worthy of note. It is hardly surprising that the film was four years in the making when the animation is at such a high standard. While the animation may surpass anything seen before the main criticism is that the rest of the film doesn?t. This is slightly unfair as there are worse Sci-Fi films out there (Battlefield Earth anyone?) but it is true that it doesn?t sparkle as much as it should. As said the story has little imagination and coupled with a romantic sub plot between Aki and Captain Edwards it seems another carbon copy of the standard sci-fi film. However, that said, the plot is entertaining enough and trying to implement more interesting elements such as Gaia helps maintain a sense it is at least trying to add something different other than the usual fair of pistols blazing. Though there are plenty of guns in it too. The characters, while excelling in looks, don?t excel in characterisation. It doesn?t help that the script isn?t the best around and it also doesn?t help that the clichéd stereotypes are all around the place. For example, General Hein is portrayed as the typical bad guy, he?s got the short slicked back dark hair, narrow eyes and permanent scowl/smirk and not forgetting the flowing black coat and elevated vocabulary. Not just that but, as ever, he is hell bent on proving he is right despite the obviousness of blowing up the Earth in the process. Then there is the team that Aki rides along with. We have the caring but firm Captain, the wise cracking male officer, the ass ki
            cking cyber female (though still with reality sized breasts, well done), the beefed up black guy and the old and wise researcher acting like a father to Aki. This has the obvious drawback of the lack of empathy for the characters if/when they meet their doom and with little or no back story for each one, General Hein is significantly underdeveloped in this area, it doesn?t give much dimension to each character. However this is, in essence, an action film and so it doesn?t need deep characterisation plus even if the script is underdevopled and the plot basic you wont be paying much attention to them anyway thanks to the animation. All that said the voice acting is generally fine. There can be no real Oscar winning performances in this but each actor contributes well. These are not big name stars, Alec Baldwin and James Woods will be the most recognisable, but that is one aspect of animated films, the fact you don?t need the big names to make it work though it does help in the box office receipts department. The sound in a film is just as important as anything else and in this case seeing as such time and care has been paid to the animation then the sound shouldn?t be left out. Overall it pays off. Sounds are, for the most part, clear and crisp and the soundtrack, while not overly enthralling, matches the mood nicely. One grievance I do have are the character voices. This may be the TV I was viewing it on or the film itself but the voices tend to be very quiet to the point of being inaudible and this is when nothing else is making a sound. You really do have to turn up the volume at some points in the film to hear what they are saying only to turn it back down when the action sequences start. Sticking with voices the lip-syncing is pretty much flawless which really does make a difference they is nothing more annoying in live action or animation TV or films
            when the dubbing is all wrong. Watching this film is entertaining enough it looks excellent and, thanks to a racy plot and minimal dialogue, should just about keep you awake while watching it. However you really cant help but think that, in the four years being made, if they tweaked the script a bit and added a bit more reason to the story that it could have pleased the critics and audiences more than what it did. I myself was quite pleasantly surprised that the film didn?t turn out to be as bad as expected and, although I really only watched it for the animation because I don?t really have much interest in the whole sci-fi film lark, I did end up watching it all the way through to the end (which is incidentally semi corny but thankfully doesn?t go overboard) so it must have been doing something right. For fans of the games and fans of sci-fi films this isn?t a must see film and your view of the games, whether you like them or not, will not be changed by this film. However for fans of films in general this remains an important film to see if only to see the gorgeous animation. It may not have come to the point where real actors are going to be replaced by digital animation (as the hype surrounding this film first suggested) but this film sets a whole new bar for CGI animation that has to be seen in motion to be believed. You may not care much for the story or characters but give this a chance and you may like it. FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN IS A new leader in CGI animation A film worth giving a chance to Just about credible FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN IS NOT A new leader in storylines Going to replace real life actors Going to be the next Star Wars

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              25.10.2002 21:05

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              The best graphical film - Advantages: best graphics ever, wicked storyline, whens the next one? - Disadvantages: typical 'must save the world' plot

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              25.10.2002 03:11
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              Sorry about the pun in the title, but where to start on the most advanced computer animated film ever??? Well, lets begin with the plot, that seems easy enough. Surrounded on a strange planet, Aki looks around. All she can see is the barren wastelands, and wonders why she is there, and how she got there. All she knows is that the sun is somewhat high in the sky as she steps on that dry twig. "Dream Recorded" Aki sits up from her chair, thankful of the computer voice that confirms her worse nightmares. The same dream has plagued her for the past few months - every night - and the only way to be sure is by recording these dreams. Back at her ships console, she starts her search for the sixth spirit. At least its in Old New York - but outside New New York its a dry desolate place, inhabited by the phantoms that roam the earth ever since the asteroid hit 36 years ago (can you guess the overall intention of the film yet? But I wont tell you about the ending!!!!). Every human that has come in contact with these phantoms has either died or worse - the others either fight with high pulse bio-etheric rifles or live in cities protected by a bio-etheric field, both created by Dr Sid, Aki's mentor. Aki sets down her ship, locating that sixth spirit. All she knows is the direction and how far away. After walking less than fifty metres the Blue Eyes Squadron jump out of nowhere and fire their bio-etheric enegy rifles all around - Aki was in so much danger she never even new. 'You're coming with me - its not safe here'. 'I must find the sixth spirit!' Aki checks her armband computer - 'Its over here quick!'. *Its going to be one of those days*. Without hesitation, Aki gathers the sixth spirit, but without warning the Squad it flanked by those phantoms who look 'soulthirsty'. 'Quick up here! Transport pick us up, NOW!' Under a mist of fire from the rifles and high-intensiy backwash from the Transpo
              rts engines, the squad make it into the transport. 'Did you even care what was happening dwn there! You could've got yourself and us killed! You think we'd have a choice to save you?' 'You're men are expendable captain - this mission is very important.' The captain takes his helmet off to reveal himself as Grey Edwards, whom Aki immediately recognises. Aki bows her head, ands waits while the transport takes them back to New New York. Meanwhile, Dr Sid is finding a way to get rid of the phantoms. So far he has figured out that eight spirits are needed to combine a waveform to nullify the phantoms, and he only has five of the spirits - he hopes Aki brings back a sixth. At this time, General Hein, the military type, is trying to convince the high council to fire the Zeus Cannon, a space weapon with unbelieveable power, but to results concerning the firing on the phantom's asteroid from which they came are inconclusive. Dr Sid has opposed this as it might destroy the world with the asteroid, but with time running out due to Aki's deteriorating health problem (I wont tell you what it is otherwise it might spoil the film), the council are being convinced by Hein that the Zeus Cannon is the only way to go. Oh dear... The main characters are Aki, Grey, Sid and Hein who all all trying to save the world, but in different ways. Believe me when I say that the characters look like real people - move over Tom Hanks! Using that intrepid fountain of knowledge that Square are combined with the best Computer Graphics equipment on the PLANET and you have a mindblowing, special effect bomb thats waiting to explode! Even the water looks like water! And they spent $6million dollars on Aki's hair alone! They don't do six months of reasearch into how humans look and act before they click a mouse for nothing... Followers of the well known Final Fantasy series will love this! I certainly did, and now I can play the D
              VD on my brand new PS2 (*big grin*) as well as Final Fantasy X. As an integreal part of an fans collection, and a must 'at least look at' for everyone else, the film does brilliantly. Ming-Na, that person from Ally McBeal (thats now ended boohoo *sobs*), is the voice of Aki, and does it quite well to. Thats another thing about this movie - ambient sounds and the general background noise building to a final showdown - its what we expect in a movie - no wait we DEMAND it in a movie! And Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within delivers, despite the flop. The DVD version offers a bundle of extras - 'Commentaries by the Co-Director, Crew, Animation Director, Editor and Staging Director; Isolated Score with commentry by Compser Elliot Goldenthal; Stroyboard excerpts with option Filmmaker commentary; Subtitled Factoids; Ineractive Animated Menus featuring CGI intors created by Square Pictures'; Scene Selections with Motion Images; Theatrical Trailers; Prduction Notes; Original Interatice Documentary on The Making of Final Fantasy, 17 information pods including the Final Fantasy Thriller Music Video, Mini-Movie - Aki's Dream; Character Morphs, Matte Art xplorations and compositing builds; Multiple workshops including seven indepth character files, three vehiclescale comparisons, trailer explorations and the sets & props; An Alternate Opening Sequence adn the Final Fantasy Shuffler: Become the filmmaker by re-editing a pivotal scene from the film' - and even a few PC extras like screensavers and all-important weblinks. Well, no dissapointments from my side because everything looks and sound brilliant. A beautiful effort that deserves nothing but raptuous applause. Advanatges: Another Final Fantasy Installment The best computer animated film ever (yes its even better than Tron) Brilliant in surround sound Ties up any loose ends at the end (which is good because some films dont) Lots of extras <
              br>Empire - 'A constistant treat for the eyeballs and an early glimpse of the future of animation' Disadvantages: Doesnt seem that spontanous Nearly perfect, but not quite yet IanJC

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                27.09.2002 22:28
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                Final Fantasy was one of those films that before it's release was heralded and hyped as the next step in animation. A film that would one day set the standard for actually replacing humans in films. When it finally appeared it recieved some negative reviews and dies a death at the box office. In this instance I'm going to say deservedly so as well. What the makers of this film decided to do was pump millions of dollars into creating some outstanding visuals. However they didn't think about spending any money on a screenplay. Instead it appears they invested in a software program that randomly picked sci-fi movie cliches and padded them out with lame dialogue. The film's plot revolves around some spiritual mumbo jumbo where a female scientist is looking for spirits whihc will make the world okay again. She get's help from a rag tag cliche space crew whihc of course contains a handsome ruggish captain who looks like Ben Affleck but has the voice of Alec Baldwin. Meanwhile the danger comes from some space alien thing that can suck out someones spirit with the slightest touch, oh and there's a power mad general as well. Frankly the film doesn't make one bit of sense and no amount of CGI eye candy can disguise the fact that this is really something that has no soul. The film's failure made sure that the makers couldn't make any more films because they lost a lot of money. All they had to do was learn from Pixar that a story comes first then the visuals. The DVD release comes on 2 disc's and trys to packs itself full of stuff to try and help recoup some of it's losses. However once again it is a release without any soul. The 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer is the best thing about the disc. It's taken direct from a digital source whihc means optimum image qaulity and none of the flaws that film can offer in a dvd transfer. It's spotless, clean and sharp as a pin. Yes the visuals l
                ook stunning on the TV and you won't get many DVD transfers out there to beat this. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is also pretty meaty. It delivers an amazing amount of thrills and spills with masses of rear surround action as well as bass heavy exploits with the subwoofer. In summary it's a reference quality release for showing off the format. The extras on the other hand really match the actual film in terms of dullness. The commentaries on the disc focus on the technical aspects of the film and highlight how everyone thought they were making a film that would break new ground. Ultimately they're a bit of a snooze fest and only the isolated music score is worth the time. In fact listen to this track with your eyes closed and you may imagine a far better sci-fi movie is playing along with it. The second disc contains all manner of making of featurettes whihc are wrapped up in menus that don't like you to select things simple, everything is linked by everything else. It's annoying and frankly the content isn't the kind that makes towant to endure the task. Each featurette takes you through various stages of production with the usual technical jargon. However everything points to one thing, everyone concerned is so dedicated to the visuals. No one seems to mention story, plot, character etc. The disk also throws in the usual trailers and even goes one futher than most storyboard features by showing the entire film in rough board/sketch format. But as the film is a turkey anyway you'd have to be mad to sit through the pre-CGi incarnation of it. The only saving grace for the whole set is the spoof music video that features the movie characters playing out the 'Thriller' video, it's amusing and if ony they'd thrown that kind of idea into the final product. Final Fantasy is a crap film and one of those releases that really is feature packed but with the wonrg kind of stuff. There
                's only so many times you can see an animatic of a CGi model and this just over saturates on it. Normally I'd write an opinion on a dvd like this in great depth but the features all say the same thing and to be honest the film and DVD aren't worth any more of my time and yours.

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                  22.05.2002 05:08
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                  Final fantasy is but a fantasy! Often I wonder what people imagine the future to be, especially those who make a movie that we refer as science fiction. Have you noticed a certain trait? 1. Existence of human race is under threat - either because of some machines that mankind made (Soldier, Terminator, Matrix etc) or because of Aliens (Aliens, Independence day etc) 2. Earth is a miserable place to live. Its not green or blue anymore but more of terrains and mountain landscapes and machine debris (We are getting closer to this future though as is evident from Afghanistan). 3. Human beings (those that are alive) are not quite living on planet Earth but in space stations and great space-ships. 4. Guns and weapons unheard of, super vehicles or transportation devices that can travel between planets. We have another such flick that has all the above elements with only one thing that is new - an all computer generated movie. So what was Antz or Shrek? Final Fantasy is different - it has human characters that are complete 3D, and it took me a while to realize that the lead heroine (Dr. Aki Ross) is actually a computer-generated wonder - its so life like, very close to reality. Aki is a babe with good looks and silky hair. I congratulate the animators and special effects guys for creating those hairs, which a girl from real world would envy. The story, like all claim, is boring. It has a lot to do with the original game series ??Final Fantasy?? from Squaresoft. The game was a supposedly a last effort for survival of the company and was a super success. Squaresoft has a $40 million state-of-art animation facility in Hawaii. So getting into movie making is quite obvious. So materializes ??The Final Fantasy: The Spirits within?? their first try - AN ABSOLUTE COMPUTER WONDER. Coming back to story. ************************************ Life on Earth has been decimated by ?phantoms?, ghost-like alien invaders who have the ability to ext
                  ract the life force from any living being (see the blue wireframe animated souls being extracted from the virtual actor). As a result, the phantoms have bled the planet dry of all life, and all that remains of human civilization are a few domed cities. In it there is a team of people, such as (Dr. Aki Ross - the babe, her mentor Dr. Sid, the jokey Neal Fleming, Captain Gray Edwards, the buff Jane Proudfoot, and the level-headed Ryan Whittaker. These are the good guys, who believe that by collecting ?8? spirits from universe, they can create a wave pattern that is opposite to ??phantom?? patterns and hence eliminate the alien race. There is another team under ruthless head of the military, General Hein (the bad guys), who believe that by using the Zeus weapon (kind of super laser as seen in ??Golden Eye?? James Bond flick), they can kill the aliens completely. The problem with the second team?s idea is that the beam can be so powerful that it can destroy earth too in the process. So the council gives the first team a nod. The rest of the story deals with race between the two teams to destroy the aliens. ************************************** The above mentioned story is not so new though it did engross me. But then I believe that any likely viewer for this sci-fi is not in it for the story but the dazzling animation. Besides, the story has its confusing moments such as the entire movie depicts an alien invasion but in one scene Aki announces that these phantoms are actually confused spirits who have landed on Earth after their world had been destroyed by comet, and hence its not an invasion. So leave apart the story and confusion and concentrate on what you are paying for - the effects! Sakaguchi and his team have created some of the most photo-realistic animation to date, particularly in scenes staged in low-lighting conditions. The motions, eye-movement, reactions and expressions are very close to real actors but still not quite there. What I mean
                  is that I was awed by the animated expressions, but I realized the fact that they were virtual characters - all of them. Dr. Sid and Aki are absolutely close to real actors, while captain Gray appeared clearly animated. The plus point of this computer generated wonder are these virtual actors who are so real that our Cast Away guy - Tom hanks feared that Hollywood would soon have all real actors cast way. In fact the Maxim (magazine) listed Aki as 87th in its list of 100 most beautiful women. The transparent and neon lit aliens were quite different from the aliens portrayed in earlier movies. Overall I would say that the movie is successful depiction of the video-game on the silver screen and a landmark achievement for computer generated effects but still relies on patience of the viewers and fails miserably in being a box office hit. Plot: Fair - Small plots here-and-there Cast Performance: Very Good - Natural acting by all Soundtrack: No comment Camera Effects: Wow - Best effects I've ever seen Watch this movie with : Friends

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                    03.05.2002 17:36
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                    • "Movie pace was slow."

                    GENERAL OVERVIEW AND OPINIONS. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ I thought that the graphics and animations were spectacularly put together, but the storyline was a little lame. It seemed as if the production was geared more towards an 'Eastern' audience rather than 'Western' cinema viewers. The visual effects could clearly be seen to be the main focus of the movie, and it seems a shame that less attention had been spent on the dialogue and 'lip-synching'i.e. the mouth movements and general facial and emotional expressions were either over emphasised and prolonged, or simply not a match for the dialogue being spoken at the time. The theme of the story is a good one, although so many sci-fi and futuristic films now follow a similar story-line, so for a movie of this category to stand out amongst others, it needs to have a little more pace and action. Unfortunately, 'Final Fantasy' seemed somewhat lacking in this department. THE PLOT. ^^^^^^^^^ The story begins in space in the future of 2065 and a catastrophic event leaves planet Earth overrun with alien predators. Their aim..to take over Earth and destroy all in it's path. The main character of the movie, Dr. Aki Ross, (the one with the realistic hair-like movements), takes on the heroic role of saving the planet and enlists the help of her teacher Dr. Sid (amongst others), to accomplish the task. Ironically, (not wanting to reveal too much of the plot), Aki becomes infected with one of the alien creatures, which actually gives her the edge to defeating the earth predators. THE ACTING AND CAST. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ The main character Aki, played by a meek and mild toned 'Ming-Na' seemed perhaps to be an uneven match to her mentor and teacher - Dr. Sid, played by the strong and cynical voice of 'Donald Sutherland'. Alec Baldwin's voice poses for the character of Captain Gre
                    y - a significant team member and assistant to Dr. Aki's research with somewhat of an 'attitude' towards who should be making all of the right decisions. Again, Alec Baldwin's voice did not make the character completely believeable, but again, this may have had something to do with the 'anime-like' translational difficulties. All said and done, 'Final Fantasy - The Spirit's Within' would not disappoint any avid viewer, and the special visual effects are certainly worth a 'look-in.' THE DVD - CONTENT, QUALITY AND COST. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ The movie is presented on 2 discs....the first disc is the movie itself, but the second disc contains some interesting extras and features. It lays out the finite details that were applied in the making of the models i.e. 3d busts of the Aki character showing the movements used to bring her to life. There's also an interesting documentary (actually it's an 'Interactive Documentary') which is rather extensive and explains much more than one would expect to hear about the 'behind-the scenes' shots... The price of the dvd at the time I purchased it was £29.99, although I believe that you can pick it up for less than that now. Personally, if it weren't for the additional disc supplied, I would not have promoted it's 'value for money' tag - but it's important to take a good look at the feature cd before you make any conclusions about the movie.

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                      15.04.2002 02:22
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                      • "politicians depicted as predictably indecisive and bureaucratic."

                      Animation as an art form is something viewed under many different lights in different parts of the globe. In the US animation was for a long time almost the sole domain of Disney, leading to the form being viewed as suitable only for children. This mould was broken down somewhat by television animation such as ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘South Park’, which were not primarily children’s productions, but even in these instances animation was not being used for anything serious or ambitious. Even when bigger budget, feature films based upon computer animation, such as ‘Toy Story’ and ‘Shrek’ started to appear, these were primarily comedies aimed at a young audience. In Japan, on the other hand, animation has long been something taken very seriously even by mainstream critics, and animation has spawned a meta-genre all its own known as anime; ironically, this wave too was born in children’s television, but after seminal works such as the late 1980s feature ‘Akira’, anime began to attract wide adult audiences and produced major features such as ‘Ghost in the Shell’, which featured computer animation as well as traditional cell work. ‘Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within’ sees East meet West, with the budgets of Hollywood and an American cast teaming up with a Japanese director and animators to create a feature film adaptation of the classic computer game ‘Final Fantasy’. Of course, computer game film adaptations are also something of a class of their own, and not an entirely successful class at that, but Final Fantasy has one key advantage: the director, Hironobu Sakaguchi, is also the man behind the original computer game — and if he cannot capture the spirit [weak pun purely unintentional] of the original franchise, then it is difficult to know who could! PLOT At some point in the future the Earth was hit by a meteorite which carrie
                      d upon it a host of invisible life-forms which then started to destroy all life on the planet without delay. With humanity facing the grim possibility of extinction, techno-wizard Dr. Sid devised a way of shielding against the aliens; humanity is now contained within satellites, in orbit above the planet Earth, and shielded cities scattered across the surface of the planet. Here, the few shattered remnants of humanity that survived live huddled against the onslaught of the implacable enemy who run free across the rest of the planet, which has been turned into a desolate wasteland as a result of their actions. Dr. Aki Ross is a young woman working for the now middle-aged Sid, who has been ‘outed’ as a follower of Gaia theory, which states that the planet Earth itself has a life force. This theory is ridiculed by many, including the fascistic military who have been developing a weapon which they think will destroy the alien invaders once and for all — a huge laser to be fired from an orbital platform into the crater formed by the original meteorite strike. Dr. Sid, however, has deduced from Gaia theory that the attack will not be entirely successful — and, moreover, that such a blast would destroy the Gaia life force of the Earth itself. After the shielded city of New York is breached by the enemy, the military have all the excuse they need to launch the strike now, whatever Dr. Sid’s objections, and it is left to Aki, carrying an alien spirit within her which wracks her with bizarre dreams of aeons past whilst simultaneously nurturing feelings of her own for the space marine captain Gray Edwards who protects her, to execute Sid’s alternative plan before it is too late — to identify and collect all nine spirits which will strengthen Gaia and remove the alien influence from planet Earth. VISUALS There can be little doubt, even from a cursory glance, that Final Fantasy is indeed a very impress
                      ive film just to *look at*. The style of animation is one that seeks photo-reality as its ideal, and whilst it is obvious that the film is indeed an animation, it is also clear that this is one of the most technically sophisticated animated feature films ever to be created. This film has been criticised by others because the visuals which appeared in the widely-seen trailers are actually only the dream sequences, whilst much of the rest of the film revolves around the much more apparently “mundane” locales of the devastated Earth and more conventional views of space and space stations already seen as CGI sequences within live-action features. This criticism, in my opinion, does not carry much weight because those visuals, which form the core part of the film, are themselves very well executed AND actually rather impressive. In fact, the film’s animators were tackling a rather more difficult task in terms of the public perception when animating the Earth-based scenes for two reasons: firstly, they were dealing with things which were still difficult to create within the virtual world but which would, almost inevitably, be taken for granted by the average viewer and, secondly, the standard which the average viewer would expect from a more normal scene is actually HIGHER because of familiarity with those surroundings. In simple terms, the average viewer is likely to be impressed with an alien ghost spirit because they have only seen one within the context of the film itself and hence are simply dazzled by the bright, swirling colours. A mountain, waterfall or set of clouds, on the others hand, has to be much *more* realistic, since the average viewer already knows what those items are supposed to look like, what textures they have and how they move, and hence judges them more harshly in accordance with this. In this respect, therefore, I found this film visually impressive, not only in terms of the more obviously flashy pyrotechnics a
                      nd aliens, but also in terms of the convincing way in which hair is portrayed (especially Aki’s, which moves with considerable grace throughout). Of course, a film is so much more than the sum of its visuals, but thankfully I thought the story rather strong for what is, after all, an animation aimed primarily at the American market. STORY It is a fact that all (or nearly all) films are identifiably a product of their time, and that unfortunately times of war produce particularly jingoistic films. Final Fantasy was, therefore, a refreshing change from the fare gracing the multiplexes at the moment because it shows that the actions of an unrestrained military can indeed be wrong, and that the military is basically led by people interested in achieving superiority in conflict (obviously), which they tend to wish to do through the use of superior firepower and very little thought about the consequences of their actions. The fact that the military is, in this case, led by the openly (to the audience) duplicitous General Hein, whose German-sounding name and dark leather clothing are an almost embarrassingly obvious reference to traditional fascist depiction, no doubt weakens the stance of this film somewhat, but it is still, in my view, a positive development to see the military portrayed as incorrect within a feature film, whilst the scientific approach — and this is something I will return to later — prevails. Frankly, those films in which square-jawed, ideologically simplistic numbskulls are invariably proved right, whilst scientists are either enemy agent, cowards, weak-minded idealists or hesitant and indecisive, really get my goat, and so the portrayal of Dr. Sid here, and Aki who is also a scientist as well as a latter-day Lara Croft, was a major point in this film’s favour. Of course, the approach taken by the heroic scientists in Final Fantasy is anything but scientific! Gaia theory is almost a
                      throwback to the 1960s and the ideas of a nature in ‘harmony’ with itself which have little to do with the reality of a world developing according to the principles of evolution. The eventual classification of the aliens (when Aki realises “what they are” as a result of her dreams, which I will not give away now since it might be considered a spoiler) also harkens to similar metaphysical and spiritual ideas which are popular in certain circles at the moment, especially in the US. Of course, with much of the US currently in the throes of a bout of Christian fundamentalism we should be glad that no evangelists seem to have survived the alien invasion and no one religious orthodoxy seems to be behind the messages contained herein. It has to be said, however, that such trappings do allow an internally credible story to be executed; too many films in the past have revolved around a majority of characters not believing what is so obviously true, and what someone (usually a child) is telling them is happening in order to keep the plot rolling. Here, we have a group, composed of the disparate military and governing council, who do not believe something because it is genuinely unbelievable, but who have nonetheless constructed a credible offensive alternative of their own. The plot also proceeds at a brisk pace and along lines which allow the viewer to keep their disbelief suspended due to the actions of a surprisingly well-drawn cast of central characters who all seem to be pulling in opposing directions. CHARACTERS Aki is an intriguing central character; the traditional duality associated with modern female leads — in which the desire to be a strong person and a totally ‘liberated’ new Woman seems to contrast slightly with the instinctive desire to be protected and to be attracted to string male personality types who invariably try to put women in their place — is certainly present, and indeed rele
                      vant here due to the fact that Aki needs someone to watch her back while she carries out her scientific duties. But furthermore, Aki is a person made secretive out of necessity, due to the spirit which has invaded her system and which is barely being kept at bay by the technology she possesses thus far, and haunted as a person by the visions that visit her each night in her dreams, created by that very entity. Dr. Sid is also interestingly shown: that he manages to project a scientific demeanour whilst spouting neo-spiritual mumbo jumbo is impressive enough on its own, but Sid is also a convincing man-of-action in a *realistic* way, rather than the bumbling fool he would no doubt have been in other films, or the rather less convincing (and endearing) Arnie type here represented by Gray Edwards. The advice Sid gives to Aki is also sage and wise on more than matters scientific and Gaia-related, although unfortunately Aki has a tendency not to listen, or at least not to hear, his words on many of those occasions. Possibly the single most interesting character, however, is General Hein, the villain. This may, at first, seem a slightly surprising choice: as I pointed out earlier, Hein’s outward demeanour, clothing and even name are none-too-subtle echoes of historic militaristic fascism. What made this character interesting for me, however, was the fact that Hein seems to have genuine motivation for his actions: at a couple of moments in the movie, Hein uses emotive statements involving the loss of family — something which nearly every survivor will have in common — to justify his lack of tolerance and his determination to have the aliens exterminated immediately and at any price, and it seems rather obvious that the General’s loss of family is the motivation behind his rage and his moral blindness. Hein also seems to have genuine feelings at several moments during the film, especially when he places a pistol to his temple and cl
                      oses his eyes — hardly a case of acting, since there were no witnesses present. On the other hand, his character earns the audience’s hatred through his direct responsibility for the fall of New York, with realpolitik allowed to reign free, but of course he would not be the VILLAIN otherwise! Predictably, the least interesting and most irritating character in the piece is the oh-so-heroic Captain Gray Edwards, a square-jawed all-American action hero of broody demeanour whose main role in the film is to be flawless. Frankly, I have always found this type of character to be very boring and obnoxious. I recently compiled a list of my top ten favourite films, which at the time I thought had nothing really in common with each other; now, I see that they all share one thing — none of them have a character of this type within them, and if they did, it would ruin the effect that film had on me. Gray Edwards does, however, have one redeeming feature which is linked intrinsically to the effectiveness of the film’s ending. Not only does Edwards face the inevitability of what is to happen at the film’s conclusion, but his decision’s ramifications are allowed to stand without any of the cod last-minute reappearance which would have absolutely ruined the film and halved its stature in my estimation in one fell swoop (I cannot be more simple or specific, once again because I do not want to give away spoilers). CONCLUSIONS Final Fantasy, therefore, is a film of spectacularly successful visuals, a storyline which is compelling (although not scientifically very convincing), some interesting characters and an ending which does not become predictable until the closing moments and does not allow the desire for a happy-ever-after fairytale conclusion to override the demands of the plot. Much of this success can probably be put down to the fact that Hironobu Sakaguchi was allowed to exert control over this pr
                      oject, and to hence keep those factors that made the computer game series such a success. The plot, however, is a strong cinematic one which does not fall into the trap of many game adaptations and simply become a mindless action flick or formulaic adaptation. Of course, some of the credit must go to the music, a quiet, soulful contribution from Eliot Goldenthal, and to the voice contributions from Ming-Na as Aki and Donald Sutherland as Sid, as well as Alec Baldwin as Gray. In general, however, this film’s success can be attributed to the combination of the budgets and filmic expertise of Hollywood with the refined outlook, intellectual capacity and ability for innovation provided by the largely Japanese crew. This film does take many of its motifs, both visual and in terms of plot elements, from Japanese anime, and to me that is no bad thing at all. Now, hands up those who think I’m being pretentious this time.

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                        18.03.2002 18:17
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                        OK, I admit that I am an old fan of the very successful video game series, FINAL FANTASY!! But the Americans do seem intent on putting thier own little two-penneth worth in, on a Japanese belief. The belief being that, when somebody or something dies, the 'soul' goes back to earth. The Americans want to have their own input with the 'humour' in the film, but it doesn't work. If you are a follower of Japanese Anime/ Video games, then the story line is very believable, but very dissappointing due to the American script contributions. But that is nothing compared to the computer generated actors, and when you do get the chance to get your breath back, then you will understand why this film took 4 years to make. I bought this DVD from the United States, and because it is Region 1 encoded, Columbia/Tristar have developed a new regional coding devise called RCE (Regional Coding Enhancement), which makes the playback of the disc very difficult, on both chipped and multi-regional DVD players. If you had a choice, I would say don't buy the Region 1 disc version. The Region 2 discs, have the exact same added features as the Region 1 encoded discs, but a lot less trouble in the play back of them!! Hironobu Sakaguchi has basically created a new form of entertainment that fuses the technical wizardry of interactive games with the sensational visual effects of motion pictures, taking you that one step closer to The Spirit Within

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                          07.03.2002 23:14
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                          • "Not like the games"

                          I waited for Final Fantasy: The Spirit Withins's arrival for years. I heard about it a year or two before it came out and i couldn't wait. Finally i heard it was being shown in the cinema when i was on holiday in Cyprus and before that i didn't realise it was showing in England in every Cinema. The problem was that it wasn't the greatest and it was stopped being shown in England. I was frustrated that i still havn't seen it. I wanted to and finally i got it on DVD. I watched it for a bit and it seemed ok but was getting more interresting. In the end it was dissapointing. I hoped it would be better. I had been waiting for it for ages but now i wish i had never seen it. It was nothing like the Final Fantasy games and the plot was a bit wierd at times. I suppose it was a good film. The adventure is nice but not one that you'll remeber for the rest of your life. I'm not completely dissapointed though. I liked the way that the graphics was amazingly realistc and in some parts there is a lot of action. The expirience is something which is good to feel and the film in some places gets exciting. Overall it's a good film and the plot is very well planned. Good graphics and a very good ending. A good film to go and see!

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                            28.02.2002 01:22
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                            Any people who own a playstaion or play computer games would have heard of final fantasy, it is known to be one of the greatest role-playing games ever made. It started out like in 1980 on the snes and made its first big break with FF7 on the Psone. FF7 was made the king of RPGs since then there has been FF8 FF9 and FF10. each of the games have completely different story lines, places people and weapons the sheer size of all the games are amazing. So naturally the decided to make a film out of it all and surprise called it final fantasy. The film is basically about a world, a world that was invaded years ago and has been taken over by an alien race. There have been many suggested ideas about getting rid of the aliens, one is to blow the planet up with this thing that will kill the aliens but will leaver the planet in tact, but this has been proved wrong and it will destroy the planet but the government still goes ahead with the project. The other is to collect certain life forms, which once collected will all come together and destroy the aliens. The main character is a girl who is looking for them. At the same time is having very strange dreams about being on another planet. So she has to race against time with a group of people to find them before the super weapon to blow up the aliens is used. The film follows a typical FF line. More is discovered about the character as the film goes on and the plot goes deeper and deeper too. The story is great; the ideas in it are yet again amazing. The way the film lets you connect with the characters is great too. The script is well written and the dialogue is amazing. But everyone must agree that the best thing about the film is the animation, the whole film is computer animated and it almost looks real. The detail is amazing and the graphics are superb. Anyone who likes the games will over this movie. On top of that anyone who fancies a change to the usual films you get this is great, it thought t
                            he film was brilliant; i'm waiting to buy it on DVD at the moment.

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                          • Product Details

                            Inspired by the popular video game franchise, Hironobu Sakaguchi's Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is a completely computer-generated film which, unlike Toy Story and Shrek, is also a serious science fiction drama with astonishingly human digital actors. Aki, the female lead, appeared in a full-page spread in Maxim magazine's Hot 100 list--and was indistinguishable from the real-life models. The setting and conflict make for incredible action, but it's the larger issues, character interaction and human elements that really make the movie shine. The Spirits Within is not simply a science fiction movie, in the same way that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is not simply a kung-fu flick. The result is a fantastic summer movie with better action and more emotion than Pearl Harbor and actors more lifelike than those in that other video game movie, Tomb Raider.--Mike Fehlauer, Amazon.com On the DVD: disc one includes an interesting, if a little flat, director’s commentary. Better is the isolated score with a superb and fascinating commentary from composer Elliot Goldenthal. Other options allow you to access more information about the film. The menus are clear and feature full CGI effects and specially created sequences. Disc two is where you will find the real meat, with literally hours of documentaries and technical promos to plough through covering every aspect of the filmmaking process, along with music videos and an alternative opening sequence. You can re-edit a short sequence from the film and there’s also a wealth of DVD-ROM material offering the complete screenplay and an interesting tour of Square Pictures, makers of the film. Features like the FHM-style photo shoot of CGI heroine Aki give an indication of the target audience for this movie. Add all this extra material to the superb picture quality--which almost leaves you convinced that you are watching a live action movie--and crystal sharp sound and you have one of the most technically impressive discs to hit the market so far. Any DVD buff will need this just to prove that the format is a worthwhile investment.--Jon Weir