A better movie than last

A better movie than last night’s trip to the Planet of the Apes was Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within. I didn’t have very high hopes for this film, save for the great animation. As it turned out, I wasn’t disappointed with the animation and the story was pretty good too. That’s not to say that there was nothing wrong with this movie, it’s just that there was more good than bad.

The good:

– Obviously the animation was excellent. By far the most realistic I have seen. Critics like to point out the flaws they saw like how the characters faces have a tough time portraying emotions and that the lips don’t exactly match the voiceovers, and these are valid points. What I found so amazing however, is how close current animation technology is to actually being able to fool the viewer. Indeed by the halfway point of Final Fantasy I had forgotten that the actors were not living actors. Sure I knew they weren’t but that point ceased to be relevant. Some say that animated characters will never be able to replace real, flesh and blood, actors. While that may be true, the only reason it would be is the cost prohibitiveness of creating the animated actors. I have no doubt in my mind that the future of animation holds nearly identical representations of us. To think otherwise would be shortsighted.

– The tale behind the story was interesting and actually had me wishing they would go into it in greater detail.

– Final Fantasy presented a science fiction backdrop that was both interesting and really cool. I have been bemoaning the dearth of true science fiction films that have been released in recent years, but the technologies and gadgets displayed in this movie were great. The state of the human race was well-depicted and the “supernatural/spiritual” element of the story wasn’t spelled out for us in some elementary manner.

What was bad then? There were a just a couple things:

– I thought the casting left something to be desired. I thought Donald Sutherland and James Woods were good choices for their roles, and Ving Rhames was also well cast. I was neutral with Ming-Na in the lead roll of Dr. Aki Ross, but think perhaps another actor could have lent more to the performance. Steve Buscemi (who I usually love) was more of a distraction as the comic relief character and Alec Baldwin was simply terrible as the love interest for the heroine. Not that he did such a bad job, but he simply didn’t seem to fit in this role.

– I wish they would have gone into greater detail about some of the supernatural things in the film and also developed the characters to a greater extent.

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