|Dir:||Hironobu Sakaguchi, Motonori Sakakibara|
|Star:||(voices) Ming-Na, Alec Baldwin, Donald Sutherland, James Woods|
|Cert / Year:||PG - PG13 / 2001|
A meteor hits earth bringing with it a deadly breed of creatures called the Phantoms. They destroy most of humanity devouring the very living essence of each person they touch. The last remnants of human race live in heavily shielded cities, desperately trying to find a way to defeat the invaders. The military, lead by the kill crazy General Hein, want to use a giant space cannon to destroy the meteor and the Phantoms. However Professor Sid and his young assistant Doctor Aki Ross believes that this will destroy the earth. They think the answer lies in combining a number of life energies to form a wave that will cancel out the Phantoms life energy. To this end Aki and a squad of marines lead by Captain Gray Edwards are seeking the life sprits that match these energies.
I have recently reviewed Titan A.E. another animated sci-fi epic, so how does this compare. Well this film was said to be a break through in cinema, as it was the first to use fully computer generated realistic actors. Hmm, well there is no doubt that the computer animation is very good in fact some of the best ever seen, but realistic actors? Well yes and no. It comes very close to working, the people do look excellent, however they are just a little too like a collection of perfect stereotypes. Also not having a professional actor to base the performance on does lead to a few moments of hammy acting (physically not vocally). There really is still no substitute for actors at least for the moment, but maybe very soon that will change.
The visuals as mentioned are just stunning, as good as the CGI animation in Titan A.E. is, this is better. Every thing from the ruining cities, to the fantastic almost invisible aliens is awesome. You just couldn't have filmed this in real life it would have cost hundreds of millions. This is what Titan A.E. could have been if they had dumped the traditional animation. Spaceships, weapons fire, and backgrounds are all faultless, and yes you really can believe in it.
Reality is the name of the game, and disbelief is well and truly suspended. A fine collection of voice talent has been gathered for the various roles, from Ming-Na and Alec Baldwin for Aki and Gray to the likes of the always reliable Ving Rhames, Keith David, and Steve Buscemi. James Woods in particular is excellent and unrecognizable in his vocal performance as the mad General Hein. The only problem is the use of Donald Sutherland to voice Professor Sid. It's not that he's bad, far from it, its just that he has such a distinctive voice that it is obvious that it his him, and the lessens the belief in the character.
The story is a fast paced all action affair, allows for some truly impressive set pieces. In particular the patrol to retrieve the seventh sprit and the attack on the hanger bay. The dialogue is witty and intelligent, and it really helps to develop the characters. The story however is an entirely different kettle of fish. In some ways it is daringly original, in others it is a confusing piece of metaphysical nonsense. Unfortunately. the latter wins out at the end of the movie. Leaving an ending that is not really bad, but is highly unsatisfying.
Thank heavens it avoids the urge to become a kids movie, which was one of Titan A.E.'s biggest failings. This is a story and a film that adults can enjoy as well as children (although it is pretty violent). I feel it is often the case that film studios, and animation studios in particular, underestimate the power that children have to understand more grown up material. Children often find things that adults maybe miss and this keeps them interested, so the urge to dumb down animation is not only unnecessary but also insulting. As I have said Final Fantasy (maybe thanks to the maturity level of the original computer games) aims at adults but can appeal to all.
All this said Final Fantasy does avoid all of the pit falls of the Titan A.E. The animation is uniformly superb, the script is adult, and the acting voice talents and delivery are first rate. It does however create some new pitfalls all of its own. Its story does plough its way into spiritual silliness (a hippy's field day), leading to a unfulfilling ending, and despite what is claimed the actors are not photo real and are obviously animated, this in turn leads to some rather ropey acting on occasion. Overall it is a very impressive film daringly (if not sensibly) original and technically superb. This is definitely one to watch, and bright indicator of where the future of animation lies.
|1.85:1 Anamorphic||Supposed digitally mastered, however the picture is slightly grainy|
|5.1 Dolby Digital||Sounds just great|
|Commentary by Moto Sakakibara and other production staff|
|Commentary by Andy Jones and other animation staff|
|Isolated Music score with commentary|
|Integrated storyboards conceptual art|
|Interactive documentary 35 - 60 mins which is a little to MTV for its own good|
|Trailer explorations about 10 minutes|
|Sets and props featurette|
|Alternate opening scene|
|The ability to re-edit one of the films scenes|
|DVD ROM features including screenplay and tour of square pictures|
|More superb animated menus|
|Things don't get much better than this. A little high on style but overall excellent.|