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Review: Final Fantasy 288

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is really a technological fairy tale, the story of some software that wanted to be real actors in a real movie. Not so fast. It would take a platoon of Blue Fairies to take code this far. I've never played the game, but it has to be way more fun than this movie. How sad that the first studio film ever with human leads played by non-actors is so lifeless and plastic. The voices are out-of-sync like those Japanese sci-fi movies. At least the film could have had the decency -- give Tomb Raider some credit here -- to hire a real actor and have a little fun with itself. Dr. Lara Croft understood what she was created for -- to kick a lot of butt. Dr. Aki Ross, played here by some code with too much lip balm, is more like Enya, a new age scientist whose weapons are dreams and wiggly spirits rather than guns and bombs. Bring noseplugs to this stinker. And don't worry about the ending being given away here. I couldn't tell you what it was if I wanted to.

Yes, the animation is fine, occasionally terrific. There is no acting to speak of, and how could there be? There are only disembodied (like Godzilla) voices -- Ming-Na (Dr. Aki Ross), Alec Baldwin (Capt. Gray Edwards), Ving Rhames (Ryan), Steve Buscemi (Neil), Donald Sutherland (Doctor Sid) and James Woods (the evil General Hein).

The overall affect is cold and fake. Obviously, animation has warmed up the cartoon genre (Toy Story, Shrek) giving the characters color, depth, expression and dimension. But it has the reverse effect on traditional films, at least if Final Fantasy is any indication.

If software has given added depth to animated films, the characters in Final Fantasy don't quite make it to one-dimensional. They appear slow-moving, a click behind their own emotions, and utterly unbelievable and remote. The real actors doing the voice-overs are dramatic, almost desperate, to give the story some life. They can't. Beyond that, the plot is just stupid, a loopy, quasi-religious narrative that posits that aliens landed on the earth years earlier, and have since ferociously gobbled up most of its people and cities, for reasons that are never explained, and for that matter, are apparently inexplicable. Like seemingly every other sci-fi, game-based or techno-centered movie in the last decade, Final Fantasy takes place largely in a destroyed New York City. (Why is it always in a ruined Manhattan? The tall buildings?)

The ghostly aliens are squiggly, gummy, amoeba-like things (though some look like translucent dragons and serpents) that nobody on the Earth understands but Dr. Ross. They kill by contact rather than weaponry, swirling around their targets like mist. The nasty General Hein doesn't like science or scientists or people who are nice, and wants to blow the aliens all to Hell.

Dr. Ross's allies are her software-lover Capt. Gray Edwards, who makes Buzz Lightyear look like Robert DeNiro, and some heroic, cartoon cut-out soldiers. There's even a software kamikaze scene meant to be touching (nothing can make you care about these creatures.) Dr. Ross is attractive but never makes it to sexy. The coded characters all seem to have mastered the sad expression and the smile, but can't go any deeper. Dr. Ross and Dr. Sid exchange spirit mumbo-jumbo for nearly half of this movie's interminable 105 minutes. There isn't a single decent battle scene, for God's sake, blasphemy in a movie that purports to herald the ascent of the computer game over the traditional film.

Final Fantasy is bad news for moviegoers, but great news for human actors. It turns out there are still some things humans do a lot better than software.

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Review: Final Fantasy

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    hey um... I've been playing FF games and stuff by Square in general since like 1990, but the "you havn't played the game so you can't understand the movie" excuse is the same lame one D&D fans used when that crap D&D movie came out(and yeah, I used to play D&D etc...). To tell you the truth, I wasn't impressed with the FF movie previews. On top of that, I think I'm outgrowing the typical Square storyline too. And I'm still nostalgic for those classic graphics from the first 6 FF's... Oh yeah, Chrono Cross came off as a bit of a dissapointment to me... oh well. I havn't seen the movie yet. Maybe I'll like it.
  • what do you expect. Americans created the human characters, of course they're gonna look like that. The creatures and backgrounds were created by japanese animators.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Before we all pretend like we are experts in digital imagery, I can tell you its a fake. Simply open your eyes and take another look.

    Her hair over her left shoulder is leaving a waaaay too dark shadow......not as sever on her right shoulder, but anyway..also look at the chin/neck shadow - this should appear similar as the shadow under her tits. Roughly the same z-axis depth. Hmmm......actually the body seems to be lit completely differently to the head.

    Also notice some white antialias fudge smudge on her left shoulder, and please why would that shadow on her skin go to black.....left shoulder

    Thats all for now. I could write a book on other impossibilities.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I don't think is was the best film ever written , but it will go into the history books. Look at a film like had a fantastic director, who put everything ito making it "real". 2001 , star wars, these are remembered as much for breaking new ground as for there development and plot. This movie does the sam. It was a film that used animation instead of cameras, and that is a landmark in it's self. I think the development we will see in the next 30 years will mimic closely the ipresionis movement of the early 20th century. The Scene in particular is where the "camera" looks up from underneath and the water. This is soething that breaths new life to film, but could never be done in traditional cinema. As far as the acting ,I though Alic was about as good as he usualy is . The plastic acctual added a symitry to his ususal preformace.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The Hair is something else. Although the characters do seem a bit slow-moving, the modeling and animation is, Jon Katz read this carefully, beyond anything Pixar made so far. Oh, the plot may be stupid, but who cares!.. I didn't go to the movie because of the plot, I went to see what they did in the animation department. If the worst -- according to Jon Katz -- can look this good, I can't wait to see the best.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Usually I want more meat with my movies, but being in the games biz I am treating this movie like a long Blizzard cut scene.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 13, 2001 @06:41AM (#87305)
    Because I was treated to something that was an awful lot like an anime. You know, sometimes it's not a bad thing that plot isn't fully discussed. You'll never see an anime where every character's relationship with the world and one another is fully explained.

    On top of that, the CG was phenomenal, amazing, stunning and really freaking sweet.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 13, 2001 @06:39AM (#87306)
    I thought Ben Affleck couldn't act after suffering through Pearl Harbor. I found his role in this movie much more lifelike. It's good to see actors taking on more challenging roles.
  • by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @08:31AM (#87307) Homepage
    1. The theory of Dr. Cid (not Sid) was that life has a wave component, or can exist as a wave. They wanted to gather spirits (individual life forms with unique waves) so that they could superimpose their waves to generate a wave 180 degrees out of phase with the wave of the phantoms, which would nullify them. Standard Fourier and wave theory, in the magical land of anime of course.
    2. It's a huge fucking gun. What more do you need? :) Perhaps it was also built with Cid's wave theories (see below).
    3. He's less of an ass than a lot of other villains I could think of...
    4. Humans seem to be able to hold off the phantoms, at least the little ones, with weapons they have. Plus, the impact crater may have been very far from the city. They would have had time to encounter the phantoms, see that they are a great danger, and construct the barrier quickly.

    Yes, it requires a lot of suspension of disbelief and wierd justifications. So does anime, and no one complains about that (this much).

  • I can answer that - I'd destroy New York City in a heartbeat, and I'm not even a malevolent alien race :)
    I've always said I could solve most of the US's problems with 5 nuclear bombs: LA, San Francisco, New York City, Washington DC, and Mexico City That's not even malevolence - That's disinfecting the human gene pool. The fact that there are aliens kind enough to do it for us isn't something to be complaining about. There's no committees to get it through, no environmental impact surveys, no lawsuits, it's just clean and simple.
  • Well, I'd be fine if you didn't destroy the whole city - a well place small scale bomb would do just fine. Besides - the USA has a heck of a lot more redeeming features than NY and SF. If you consider NY a redeeming feature for it's cultural aspect - Broadway, etc, and it's history, that's fine. Go for a walk around the Bronx or Queens at night. As for other redeeming features in the US, Yosemite remains entirely intact. Zion national park, untouched. Redwood forest, untouched. Philadelphia, Seattle, New Orleans, untouched. If you think NY and SF are the only worthwhile places in the US, someone needs to get out and travel. Oh yeah, and while you're out... check out the Smithsonians. They're awesome.
  • I grew up around Los Angeles, I've been to San Francisco, and New York City, so I think I deserve a LITTLE more credit than "quick dislike". And I think I'm a little less white than you might think.
  • actually, more to the point, the dissenters are those who speak out. if someone disliked the film, they'll probably refrain from posting unless they look at the posts of the people who are irritated and then decide to post a dissenting opinion. if someone liked the film, and liked it enough, they'll immediately post an angry reply.
    All that glitters has a high refractive index.
  • Well part of the problem is that when you take a comic like X-men or a game like FF or D&D and make it into a movie, if you assume all of the viewers are familiar with your existing product you will fail badly. I liked Tomb Raider, despite having never played the game, I thought X-men was great, even though I never read the comic. On the other hand I get the distinct impression that I would not like this, since I have not played the game I would not get it.

    So it is perfectly reasonable for a reviewer to say "Well I haven't played the game but the movie was lousy" as many of the people reading the review haven't played the game eather.

    I don't play computer games at all due to a number of reasons.
  • Like seemingly every other sci-fi, game-based or techno-centered movie in the last decade, Final Fantasy takes place largely in a destroyed New York City. (Why is it always in a ruined Manhattan? The tall buildings?)

    From here []:

    That temptation to destroy the familiar skyline of New York, whether with a bomb-loaded rental truck or a screenplay, proves the enduring legend of the city. Unfortunately, the legend is also why we no longer have a Great-White Way, but a Great White Sneaker Way, in which big-haired loud-mouthed tourists try to out-do what they think is the real New York--That's okay! It's New York--and then, unexpectedly finding kindness, interest and even love on the part of the supposedly hostile natives, send their amusing letters week after week to the Times's Metropolitan Diary. Ha ha! Zabar's! Cab drivers! Bus drivers! The subway! Those gruff but lovable beggars! So foreign! Ha ha!
  • Why should you have to try hard to understand a movie? I like a film where you learn more about it each time you watch it, but films that try to be so clever that you need to watch them three times before you understand it are just bad.

    I've not seen the movie, but I can easily imagine that a a contrived story and bad character development would destroy a film. Without a story and believable characters there's nothing of substance left.
  • I'd been on the fence about this. But if someone who doesn't understand that amination is a medium and not a genre gives the movie such a negative review, I'm going to see it. I don't care how bad it is; I want this thing to succeed, and perhaps spread the word that animation isn't just kids' stuff.

    And frankly, Katz, you disappoint me. It's obvious you don't get a lot of respect here; I was one of the relatively few who seem to be willing to give you a chance. But you lost it on this one. I expected so much better out of you; I actually liked many of your articles. No, I wasn't looking for a positive review. I was looking for a little respect of the technical achievements made in the film, though. And I was certainly expecting at least a little respect for animation, the opposite of which you exude in this article. For the author of the Hellmouth series to be this condescending and ignorant... well, perhaps it's just that I didn't see your true colors until now, or perhaps it's a recent development, but regardless, I very much dislike what I see.
  • If I were criticizing Katz for not judging the movie based on its medium, you would have a point.

    However, I'm not criticizing him for not doing it. In fact, I couldn't have done that even if I wanted to, because to a rather large extent, he is judging the movie based on its medium. Go back and look it over. He clearly feels that this movie should be some kind of "cartoon", which it is not.

    And I never said I hated his previous work. It's still very good. But something's happened to him lately; this is only the biggest sympton yet of a greater problem.

  • Thanks for your review. Katz had me scared for a moment. I have never played any of the games and don't know anything about the story, but I do like anime and technology and I've really been looking forward to this movie because of the huge leap forward in animation quality. I feel much better about going to see it now.

  • by Genom ( 3868 )
    LOL - I tend to type a lot like I talk - with a lot of dashes to denote short pauses, and a lot of little smilies to emphasize emotion ;P

    Sorry for not doing it in bold/italic, which would have looked nicer -- I revert to old habits when I'm typing a review.
  • by Genom ( 3868 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @07:20AM (#87322)
    They were both excellent games - but Sephiroth, IMHO, was much more of an *outstanding* villan than Kefka.

    Kefka was indeed evil - but he was goofy-evil - the kind of evil where you're not afraid, or angry - you're annoyed. He made a great villan, but Sephiroth was...well...just so much more.

    By the end of FF7, it was hard *not* to hate Sephiroth, be angry at him, and want to make him pay. He was always just that one step ahead of you - and he *knew* it. You came so *close* to fighting him throughout the entire game, but you were always denied - until the end. When the pseudo-dream sequence at the end happened, it was hard not to start cheering, yelling, and going nuts, because FINALLY you were giving him what he deserved. He was just an absolutely *perfect* character to have in a FF game - and Square hasn't developed a better villan yet, IMHO.

    Wow...that was longer than I thought =)

  • by Genom ( 3868 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @06:57AM (#87323)
    I've seen Katz off-base before, but it's obvious he didn't understand a thing in the movie - nor, it seems, did he try to.

    Perhaps the audio track was a bit off in the theatre he went to -- I don't know -- but in our theatre, the sound was synced pretty well -- there were a couple of spots where the sync was a *little* off - but not so much as to be the annoyance Katz makes it out to be. Buscemi's character seemed to get the worst of the desyncing, but again, it wasn't the bother Katz made it out to be.

    The voice acting was pretty damned good, if you ask me - it may be that I'm an anime fan, and have suffered through hackdubs, and poorly acted voices more than most. I especially liked the fit of Donald Sutherland's voice to Cid - it matched VERY well (other than the "warm" line ;P )

    Now - about the plot. Sure - it was a bit contrived. Some of the character development seemed a bit rushed - but overall, it wasn't bad. Katz missed the point of the plot - probably because he was so bothered by the sound - I don't know - but his analysis is pretty much totally off-base. I won't give it away - but if you've played FF7, you'll be wondering where Aerith is at the end ;P (I *think* the plot of the movie was conceived around the time FF7 was popular - and the influence shows)

    The animation was phenomenal. It takes a *lot* to get *so* close to looking real. Some of the movement was a bit off (but very, *very* close - and some of the faces were a bit...strange (James Wood's character, the general, seemed to have been distorted into an evil mask - noone's that angry all the time ;P ) - but overall, they've pushed the envelope for realism in animation.

    Especially the eyes. It's awesome to see animated characters whose eyes have real "depth" to them.

    Now - all this being said, I think it didn't *quite* live up to the Final Fantasy name. DOn't get me wrong - it was a great movie - but there are a few Final Fantasy elements that were sorely missing.

    First was the lack of medieval flair -- most (FF8 not included) Final Fantasy games all had a mixture of medieval swords & sorcery with high technology - that was part of what gave them their distinctive "flavor". This movie was ALL high-tech, and even a little bit on the military side -- kindof like a deeper Aliens movie.

    A side note to this was the lack of Magic in general -- I was really looking forward to seeing Ultima being cast on the big screen - or even a couple Summons (Shiva? Ifrit? Bahamut?). Sadly, none made it into this movie, although one of the alien critters looked a bit like Leviathan...

    The lack of Airships was bothersome - yes - they had the various spacecraft - and they were well-designed, but again, were lacking the flair of the grandiose FF airships.

    The most glaring error, however, was the lack of a single, solitary Chocobo.

    It's for these reasons that I think the movie, although very,. VERY good, didn't quite live up to the Final Fantasy name that was placed on it. Had it been simply called "The Spirits Within", I wouldn't have had a single problem with it.
  • One of the first things you mention is that you haven't played the games.

    You can't make a multi-million dollar movie aimed only at fans of a game. With the sort of costs this movie must have, you must appeal to people who haven't played the game. The movie industry is in it for the money, after all.
    the telephone rings / problem between screen and chair / thoughts of homocide
  • Well, Rachel's hotter than Wilma, but I always thought Betty was pretty cute.
  • Well, of course, I was just hitting the full hormonal hurricane of puberty when the original Flinstones television show debuted so that could have something to do with my reaction to "her", but I'm not sure that a human actress playing a fictional television character is necessarily "reality" compared to an animated television character with a human actress's voice.

    Now when animated characters and their computer generated voices become indistinguishable from reality, *that* will be impressive!

  • by sacherjj ( 7595 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @08:45AM (#87330) Homepage
    Don't you guys perceive a distinction between Fred and Wilma and Ross and Rachel?

    Were not stupid, Ross and Rachel wear shoes. Duh!
  • by malkavian ( 9512 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @06:53AM (#87333)
    From the review, it seems that all Jon Katz things computer games should be is lots of shooting, explosions, and similar inane garbage.
    Personally, I love the games that don't have lots of bangs and mindless stomping around.
    Final Fantasy the games were all about looking deeper into things, and not fitting in with the norm.
    I've not yet gone to see it, but I wasn't expecting to see a high adventure movie in the same vein as Tomb Raider et. al.
    I was expecting something with a little thought, that I'd have to think quite deeply on, and look for the meaning behind.
    I'll reserve judgement until I've seen the movie, but I think slating it, just because it's something different, not just the usual guns and regular modus operandi of killing things, is pretty lame.
  • >I absolutely disagree; Final Fantasy was an
    >excellent movie that pushed the boundaries of
    >technology and story telling.

    Apparently in different directions...

  • then how long before SGI retracts this masturbatory PR []?

    Seriously, SGI should have provided the plot line as well as the hardware: "See a successful UNIX hardware vendor, driven to irrelevance by demon possesion -- resulting in inexplicable plans to rely on M$! Watch in horror as it is destroyed from within by terrible university relations, the creeping spectre of mismanagement and a bizarre, not-quite-SVR3 operating environment. Will a hero come and save it? No."


  • I was totally unimpressed [] by FF. It felt like I was watching an hour-and-a-half long video game cutscene. Why is it that just because it's computer animated, we expect less from the story and characters? For once I totally agree with Katz.
  • by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @06:47AM (#87347) Journal

    ...and it shows when you say things like:

    Dr. Aki Ross, played here by some code with too much lip balm, is more like Enya, a new age scientist whose weapons are dreams and wiggly spirits rather than guns and bombs.

    There isn't a single decent battle scene, for God's sake, blasphemy in a movie that purports to herald the ascent of the computer game over the traditional film.

    I have played the game(s), and a lot of the point was deciphering what the "real" plot was. In the beginning it often did seem to be a simple "the mad Queen must be stopped", but always there were multiple layers of truth and reality that had to be peeled away to reveal the true motivation of the game. And there was lots of questing for things along the way too. I think you're reviewing the wrong movie if you didn't expect it to be somewhat confusing to the newbie viewer, full of seemingly contradictory versions of reality, and ultimately solved by heroes that rely more on their innate abilities and their relationships to each other than on any amount of military hardware. Winning a war through pure shoot-em-up style mayhem has never been the plot of a FF game - it's like the difference between a "foreign" (non-US) movie with actual plot, characterization, and open endings, and the usual U.S. fare of "Legally Blonde", "Tomb Raider", and "Pearl Harbor". Maybe you should have just reviewed The Matrix or Tomb Raider again, Jon, and given this one a miss.

    I can't comment on your other points, since I haven't seen the movie yet (maybe this weekend?), but it wouldn't surprise me that the voicing and the expressions aren't perfect. After all, this is the first time something like this has been tried. It's still a huge advance over the animation of the humans in Toy Story or even Shrek, though - maybe your negative comments are because the animation was close enough to looking real that the remaining slight failings were especially jarring?

    Oh yeah and one more thing:

    (Why is it always in a ruined Manhattan? The tall buildings?)

    I can answer that - I'd destroy New York City in a heartbeat, and I'm not even a malevolent alien race :)

  • by wirefarm ( 18470 ) <> on Friday July 13, 2001 @07:31AM (#87353) Homepage
    Anyone else notice that Jon Katz is sounding more and more like that entertainment critic from The Onion - Jackie Harvey?

    MMDC Mobile Media []
  • by Overt Coward ( 19347 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @06:37AM (#87355) Homepage
    Then I gotta go see it... it should be great.

  • The story was engaging. The voice acting was fine. The animation and the eye candy were superb. Katz is STILL a moron.

    And what's with dogging on Dr. Ross because she's "attractive but never makes it to sexy"? I'm not generally one who jumps all over sexist statements, but that's an absolutely reprehensible attitude: assuming an actress (real or animated) is only there to titillate you.

    The movie was not supposed to be a complex, thought-provoking Think Flick. It was a fun-to-watch, engaging movie with absolutely staggering animation. Since Katz doesn't like "those Japanese sci-fi movies" either, I think that a) his taste is terrible and b) he doesn't know a thing about what makes a good movie, or why this movie was good.
  • by irix ( 22687 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @07:48AM (#87357) Journal
    And, like most Anime, even low-end work like the Pokemon movies, it works a lot better if you were raised Japanese, or have more than a passing familiarity with Shinto.

    You know, you may be right - I don't know much about Shinto.

    But when I think about the plot, aside from the visuals, it still wasn't anywhere as bad as Katz makes it out to be. The times when you totally forget that the characters are CG are the times when you are totally engrossed in the story.

    And do you really need to have every plot element explained to you in detail? I *like* movies that leave you with questions when you leave the theatre.

    I think that Roger Ebert's review [] hits most of the salient points.

    And I stand by my original statements. The visiuals were simply amazing and worth the price of admission to me.

  • by irix ( 22687 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @06:39AM (#87358) Journal
    Why did I expect Katz would toe the line with this review?

    I thought the CG was simply awe-inspiring. Sure, it isn't perfect, but this was simply the most beautiful piece of work ever shown on the big screen.

    The story was not amazing, but it isn't as bad as some people (read: Katz) make it out to be.

    I hope we get to see more of this genre. Do yourself a favor, go see the movie and then form your own opinion.
  • by novarese ( 24280 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @06:35AM (#87359) Journal
    the first studio film ever with human leads played by non-actors

    What does this mean? Does he mean this is the first movie with animation instead of "real" photographs of "real" people? Um, that's pretty obviously false, so he must mean that the people who did the voices (Baldwin, Southerland, Woods, etc) are "non-actors" - either way, it's beyond moronic.

  • I dunno, all Katz' detractors don't seem to have any problem with it. :-)

  • Somehow, after the trailers, I expected the CG to be a bit more advanced/better. Some bits were incredible, but overall, I thought it would be more impressive.

    Where it really lacked was in the lip movement. Everyone seemed stiff. I guess it was too hard to CG pursed lips 'cause they don't exist in this movie. I think that's what made everyone's speaking seem unnatural. Probably too much deformation to still look real or something.
  • I really think I must have seen a different movie than almost everyone else.

    First off, I have never even -seen- a FF game. What does that have to do with the plot? I certainly had no problems following it. There were a bunch of strange aliens, and they were killing people for whatever reason. Humans had to hide out in shielded structures and struggle to sruvive. Some scientists figured out a way to neutralize these critters, and it involved finding a bunch of specific things. The main characters fight through monsters and stuff to get them. They get them, and the "good guys" win. Yay us. What was so friggin' hard about that?

    And why does everyone keep whining about inconsistencies and confusion with the monster things? It all made sense to me.

    Also, so what if they all look a little plastic? Do you complain when cartoon-characters look a little bit like they're drawn or painted? Do you complain that, when you read a book, you have to make up the images entirely in your head? Duuuuh.
  • Alec Baldwin's character looked like Ben Affleck and Donald Sutherland's looked like Ben Kingsley, but they aren't the Ben's. Check IMDB [].
  • The impression that I got from the film was that a different genre ought have been chosen. If you are going to do Sci-Fi, you've got to at least have a decent plot... If you are going to be light on plot and acting talent, then you had better choose horror...

    The characters were the most grotesque anime stereotypes that they could have been... The fragile, empath female, the square-jawed bullshit white male hero, a big, strong, black male expendable character of few words, and a skinny italian to boot... I guess that there are not a lot of hollywood movies that are more challenging than this but the damn hamfistedness of this was really noticeable... Also, they made the bad guy a little too evil...

    So overall, expect this movie to tank after the first week. The CGI is pretty amazing, but you'd better have at least an interesting plot if you're going to try scifi.
  • Fine and dandy, but it's the animation, in my mind, that makes all the difference. If the movements aren't right, it's not working for me. In fact, it's even WORSE if the "actor" looks almost photorealistic, but moves like he's wearing a total body brace. If they don't look real, it's not as much of a shock when they walk like they just dumped in their pants.
  • my two cents. sephiroth always seemed, to me, that he didn't care about doing evil. he was passive. it was like fighting an robot. kefka, on the other hand, ENJOYED what he was doing. he did evil because it made him feel good, not sephiroth's evil just because it's something to do. style over substance. evil, but very very shallow.

    Bad things often happen to good people,
  • by Marasmus ( 63844 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @08:51AM (#87376) Homepage Journal
    No kidding! The FF-style storylines are normally very complex and very deep... In a game, you've got 20-60 hours of gameplay in which you get to mill over and decipher the storyline, so it makes a bit more sense. Sadly, they had to try to cram an FF-quality storyline into a 2-hour movie, and I think that was its greatest weakness.... time.

    The storyline, of course, borrowed from a bunch of story ideas in the past (Gaya vs. FF7's lifestream?, phantoms vs. Jenova?), and kept with the fairly common mystical/religious undertones that help make the FF series what it is. For someone like Katz (a person who hasn't played any of the games, and is, well, as silly as he is), the story line is either going to seem overly complicated (and thus underexplained) or extremely hokey and childish.

    Every FF story is a challenge to read. It is also a challenge to the reader, regarding how one lives their life. I know I'm probably reading too much into this, but the point is that the FF storylines aren't supposed to be just entertaining like Angelina Jolie's tits in Tomb Raider... the storylines of FF games (and movie) make you think. a lot.
  • This was my opinion as well, I expected the movie to be around 45 minutes longer. I think it would have done much better if it was a 2.5 hour movie...

  • Well, don't get me wrong. I liked the movie. No, it wasn't exactly what I expected, and I'm not overly familiar with "Eastern" films or common themes of such, but I didn't go to this movie expecting a sci-fi thriller or a blockbuster either (thank God I didn't get surprised in that area...) but my criticism of the movie was meant more in the mechanics than the story. The plot is mediocre, much better than the common hollywood flop (ie. there actually is a plot) but not up to par with something so involved like pulp fiction (not the best example, perhaps, but the movie is complicated enough to make the point.)

    Regardless, FF: The Spirits Within is groundbreaking and fantastic to watch. Even though I got raped at the theater (Mall of America charges $8.75!!!) I'll still buy this on DVD later. It also makes me salivate, thinking about what is to come (assuming Square, at the very least, breaks even on this.)

  • by jhoffoss ( 73895 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @09:41AM (#87384) Journal
    I'm sorry, but Aki is not Spacey nor Lemmon. This is a fantastic movie for the animation/CG. Taking it superficially as a cinematographical work, it doesn't cut it. As has been stated, you can't make up for true human emotion. The acting is not there either. I know from your previous postings that you thoroughly enjoyed the movie, as did my younger brother. He, as well as you, I assume, are avid RPG players and can involve and indulge yourself in the story of the game/movie. This makes it difficult to review the acting/plot in the big pic. My brother couldn't tell a truly good movie from another blockbuster if his life depended on it, but that's fine. I'd almost wish I could be that way; then I'd be entertained much more than I am when I go to a movie. But I still watch objectively.

    I didn't go into this movie with high hopes, because I knew this is the first real attempt at CG acting and it was inevitable that it would fall short of realism, but that's okay. It's the biggest step in the right direction I've seen in a long time. Since Star Wars, perhaps.

  • The story was crap, and it had enough holes to drive a fleet of trucks through. The dialog was painfully bad. It required a focus on technique over substance: like watching one of those candy ads at the start of the movie where you try to figure out if they used Phong shading on Mr. SoftDrink's hands. Actually, I think the candy ad had a better plot.
  • Looks to me like you agree with Katz where he says the animation is fine and occasionally terrific.

    Katz's point was that the rest of the movie's elements (plot, acting, script) sucked.

  • I haven't seen the movie, and make no claims that I have.

    Really? the overall plot of the movie differed hardly at from your name sake. The differences (as I see them): the setting,
    This 'episode' of Final Fantasy takes place in the forests of mythical medieval Japan? Then why is all that mecha and futuristic environment shown in the trailer?

    actual form of technology.
    The most advanced technology in Mononoke is gunpowder.

    I hope you forgive me for assuming you agree with Katz in this.
    I never said I agreed. I haven't seen the movie yet. I obviously didn't make my point.

    Katz is probably autistic judging from some of his reviews.
    As a functional autistic, I'd have to just say 'you just never know.'

    Its nice to see him getting out. Whats your excuse?
    I have to have an excuse for not seeing the latest based-on-a-videogame movie? Ok, how 'bout this: They almost always suck.

    As for your 'get a life' implication: I have a life, that's why I don't get to see every movie the minute it hits the theatre.

    For christs sake some of the people posting, about how bad the plot, acting, script are, are almost certainly Star Trek fans, hell I'd bet the vast majority.
    Quite possible, considering there is a large overlap of anime and Star Trek fan bases. Both groups tend to prefer well-told story over the 'Look what we can do with this new toy' group.

    The gall one must have to like that claptrap and find fault with anything anywhere certainly meets my definition of "unmitigated".
    Ah, flamebait. I see.

    I can't help but wonder if this fairly negative overall reaction (which doesn't seem to be shared by those I know who have seen it) isn't at least a partial reaction to some of the eastern elements.
    You could be right. Mononoke's basis in Japanese mythology certainly kept it from enjoying a long run in the US.

    I'm not saying it couldn't have been better. But I saw where the 137 million went.
    A good story can be told well and entertainingly for less than 5 million. The other 132 million went to pay for the toys the animators got to play with.

    On top of that, it was a decent story, with better dialogue that most scifi, acting that might not have been inspired but was certainly passable.
    Good acting is fundimental to good story telling. If the acting isn't there, then the rest of the effort to make the movie is wasted.

    It occurs to me at this point that you possibly meant to reply to the parent post, and not mine. Oh well.


  • Oh you're autistic huh? You sure seem remarkably able to figure out the nuances of emotion and meaning in this post very well. Riiiight...
    You know much about autism? I didn't think so.
    And he said the PLOT was the same as many other anime. SETTING was different. No shit it didn't take place in medieval Japan. Same generic plot though.
    Ah. I see. Nevermind.


  • by SDuane ( 90331 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @07:16AM (#87397)
    Near the beginning of the movie I noticed something was wrong with the mouth movement and sound. I thought it might be unsynced but if you really pay attention you'll notice it is lined up just fine. It took me an hour to put my finger on what was wrong. The mouths move perfectly to form the words but the lips never really meet to create the percussive articulation associated with "p", "b", "m", etc. sounds. After a while though, you get used to it and I didn't even notice once I was engrossed in the film.

  • I did some searching and found a bigger pic. /aki_nude.jpg Looks real to me.
  • by frankie ( 91710 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @09:09AM (#87402) Journal
    Why do we have a person reviewing a movie based on a game when that person hasn't ever played the game.

    Sorry, but you're full of shit. If this movie were marketed only to people who have played the games, they'd have to charge about $100 per ticket in order to recoup their costs. This movie is being sold to the general public, in standard movie theaters. The producers have an obligation to make the movie comprehensible in its own right, otherwise they deserve criticism (and probable financial ruin).

  • I'll second that. The story was just good, but combined with the amazing CG it really turns into a great movie.

    Seriously people, this movie is worth the price of admission solely on the basis of the visuals. What's great is that it actually turns out to be a good movie as well.
  • "I've never played the game, but it has to be way more fun than this movie."

    Which is probably exactly why you hated it. Why do we have a person reviewing a movie based on a game when that person hasn't ever played the game. Wouldn't it follow that the person would not be able to understand the plot. And rather just say that make generalizations in order to try to make people believe they know what they are talking about?

    Then of course 90% of Jon's articles are that way :)

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • Snow White (1937) is the first full length studio (Disney) film with human leads played by non-actors.

    It's called animation, which Final Fantasy is as well.
  • You ask any critic out there in Hollywood who has not played any of the latter FF games (FF 7 or 8) about this movie and they will all tell you the same thing: the storyline was too confusing.

    It's not Katz's fault that he didn't get the storyline. That's just the way Final Fantasy storylines are. Unless you know what to expect in the first place, you're going to be so lost with the storyline that you won't be able to enjoy any other parts of the movie.

    For FF, I thought the storyline was good (not paralleled FF7 too much). I could go on and on about how good/bad/great/awful the CG was (although I will say brownie points to detailing the wallet in the Captain's jeans). What I want to emphasize from Katz's critique is how "emotionally-dubbed" this movie is. The perfect example: Steve Buscemi. I love this guy, and his awesome ability to portray sarcasm with satire so well (like his roles in Con Air and Armegeddon). He had some good lines in FF as well, but your reaction to them was delayed. You didn't see the little quirk he does so well with his eyebrows, or how his face looks so serious while his eyes show that he's joking. You just can't do that with computer animation. His emotions seemed to be "dubbed in" by the animation. He did great like he always does with the lines, but the face of his character just didn't show it. I don't know why, but it makes you feel as if the speech and emotion don't blend.

    The same with Aki Ross. You just don't feel the actors emotions. It's not because they're not spoken well...they're spoken very well (although Baldwin doesn't do the greatest with the captain...I think the Baldwin's usually rely on looks rather than speech for acting). But the face only shows a "cookie cutter" emotion. Even if they bend the eyebrows a little bit, or change the tint on the skin just a little, my mind just doesn't feel for what they're supposed to be feeling. That's what made this movie disappointing for me.

    The most real character to me was Dr. Cid. And speaking of which, could someone please tell me why there is a Cid IN EVERY SINGLE FF from FF2 on?

    In brief: the storyline (for a FF) was good, the CG was great, but the emotion was not there in the graphics, which made it not there in the movie.
  • Well you see, Katz has that attention deficit thing he was ranting about a while ago, and can't fucking sit still for 5 minutes to try to figure out the plot. There was one there, and it was fairly strong if you could follow it.

    That said it was quite anime like, and things were a little warped around. Somebody with an IQ of 60-70 like Katz probably couldn't follow it. Sorry Katz, not a movie for kids. Grow up and you might enjoy it.

    Damn, I wonder if Katz is really trying to be flamebait. Stupid shit.

  • Talk about attention to details!

    What's really amazing about animation vs real life is that you know every single thing you see was deliberately put there. The one I caught which was cool was when the two main characters kissed, you can see a tiny strand of saliva as they pulled away. That's attention to detail! :)


  • I have to nitpick here... Blade Runner is a decent movie on its own, but it diverged so much from the plot of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? that I can't seriously call it an adaptation. It's like the writer of the script and the director said, "That was a pretty good book, but it really should have happened like this."


  • by Kagato ( 116051 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @06:56AM (#87421)
    If you like Anime, chances are you'll give FF a passing grade. If you're not a big Anime, I'd expect a so-so reaction. I say screw Katz, I want to know what Taco thinks of it.
  • by SuiteSisterMary ( 123932 ) <> on Friday July 13, 2001 @07:09AM (#87424) Journal
    Square has promised the shareholders that they will never FINANCE a movie again. They'll gladly make them if somebody else is signing the cheques. :-)
  • by Lord Omlette ( 124579 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @06:50AM (#87426) Homepage
    They call me "Master Cat Herder" cause I managed to get myself and 15 friends to see the movie opening night. Suffice to say that almost everyone hated it. I don't know why, but I was completely floored.

    The movie reminded me alot of Heinlein novels... You either love them or hate them, but either way they're an incredible read. And I've yet to find anyone with a middle view... People either said, "AWESOME!" or "WTF is this crap?". No one said, "eh".

    People are getting mixed signals though: the GIA is reporting that Square has more films in the works, while at Square's shareholder meeting, the brass apologized profusely by the losses incurred primarily as a result of making the film. IF this was indeed only a test run THEN holy shit we ain't seen nothing yet.

    Bottom line: just go see the movie.

    ICQ 77863057
  • The story was so-so. Mad general with loyal following who wants nothing more than to blow stuff up out of revenge, scientests who just know that blowing stuff up will destroy the world.

    While the plot is quite generic, the way it successfully references so many other movies amazed me. Hints of BladeRunner, a dash of Dune, and a helping of Aliens and Akira.

    If you're going just for the CG then enjoy the artistry (not reality, artistry - when you go to see an anime flick, are you expecting reality? no - you're wanting artistry. expect the same here). But go for the homage to the Past a well. This screenwriter and Director spent his time noting scenes/character types that worked in other movies and blended them quite well into FF.

    and keep in mind the genre of the movie you're watching. It's like with Crouching Tiger - the plot is predictable, the lines are melodramatic, but for the genre, CTHD works perfectly. FF is a Sci-Fi/Anime and it fits that genre perfectly - from the fasst paced, at times confusing action, to the pointless and countless little noises whats-her-name makes, down to the cheesy song at the end.


  • by CptnHarlock ( 136449 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @06:52AM (#87434) Homepage

    Katz, Im not usualy a JonKatz basher but at times like this I really understand them.

    One of the first things you mention is that you haven't played the games. If you had you'd have had something to relate to. In the last games (since Vii) they have had lots of _nice_ pre-rendered CG wich has gotten better for each game. Every FF player has probably played with the thought of how this could be made into a movie. And now it is. Most of us compare to the game and the games pre-rendered sequences. And most of us love it. At least what we've seen on the www and on trailers. Many of us will go just for the eye candy. If I wanted real actors, I'd demand real actors. I want to see how much we can do without real actors... And I can't help you with the lipsync. I betcha there will be better syncs on other languages. Or just wait and buy the DVD with english subtitles. Let the fans deside if it's bad - the film is made for them.

    You are behaving like a /. reader who hasn't read the article but still has a lot to say about it. Those dudes are irritating...


    $HOME is where the .*shrc is

  • ...that the only way for the upcoming LOTR movie to get a good response from ./ posters is if Katz doesn't like it. Seriously, I have never before seen a scifi/fantasy movie reviewed here that people claimed to like, but as soon as Katz says its crap, everyone and his brother is singing the praises of the movie in a unified voice.
  • That's an excellent post and I agree with everything you (guess I'll be modded down for agreeing, heh) except for one thing...

    for those who played the games a lot, it was superb

    I'm not sure what playing the games has to do with the movie. One of the hallmarks of the FF games' plots was that they had nothing, absolutely no connection with eachother, except for a couple of things...
    • There's always a character named Cid. He's always a completely different character, but he's always named Cid.
    • There are Chocobos
    And the movie was an even bigger departure from the games than each installment in the series usually is. Both thematically, and because of the notable omission of chocobos. There were a few similarities here and there... the earth-spirits sort of reminded me of the end of FFVII, but I think that kind of thing is pretty generic, I don't even know if I'd call it a similarity. Also, I've never played FFVIII or FFIX so maybe I've missed something. :)

    Anyway, I'll I'm saying is that it bears no resemblance to the games...

  • by HiQ ( 159108 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @06:44AM (#87445)

    but great news for human actors

    Well, at least they tried. What should they do according to you? Keep trying until it's really perfect? In that case you would have to wait quite a few years. But I really think that in a few years time actors *will* have a difficult time, because animation will be a lot better then. Maybe the lead roles will not be played by animated actors, but smaller roles will (especially roles that are too dangerous to play, I think an animated actor/stuntman is a lot cheaper than a real actor).
  • It was fantastic. Katz is trying really hard to get "in" with the geek crowd. He expects the geeks to really hate anything made by computers cause it isn't "perfect." Well, I'll be damned cause I thought the movie was perfect.

    From the beginning of the movie, where you can see a closeup of the lead actresses... her hair movies perfectly (I believe they traced each hair folicle differently), you can see the pores on her skin, you can see -blemishes- on her skin. Its not like a perfect human, but a -real- human. Even the subtle expressions on the faces showed the perfect amount of emotion. Another impressive part was after a butch marine chick was fighting a battle with the "phantoms", she had hard nipples. Talk about attention to details! ;-)
    I was in awe from the beginning to the end. Nothing said "fake" or "plastic" to me, I, actually, had to keep telling myself that this was made by computers, because it was so unbelivably good. Watch for physics mistakes, or fluid dynamic mistakes. Everything worked like it should of. I felt the lip sincing was on, animation was spectacular, and everything fell into place. Katz was just trying to predict everyone's feelings (and failed like normal).

  • Katz wouldn't dislike Akira, that would go against prevailing geek opinion, which is probably what he thinks he's catering to with this unrealistic review. In order to decide whether or not he liked this movie, he probably just stopped by Rottentomatoes [] and read the prevailing sentiment.

    I think its funny, also, that he complains both about the supposed lack of plot and a lack of action. Action does not equal plot, never has and never will. A plot is a story, and this one is simple and effective. And it was a better acted movie then, say, "Clerks", which Katz no doubt loved because everyone else did. And he says that the Phantoms were never explained? Was he in the bathroom for most of the movie? Every dream sequence, and probably a good half-hour of dialogue, went into explaining and defining the Phantoms. And to slam a movie because it takes place in Manhattan (of course, it had other locations, as well, but he doesn't care to mention that) is just an idiot's ploy to come up with something to whine about. There are many other inconsistancies in the alleged review, but screw it. I don't have time to respond to them all, since I'm on my way to see the movie. Again.

    Of course, all you have to do is read my sig to know I'm biased...

  • by DrunkenSmurf ( 175891 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @06:56AM (#87466)
    and it can be found here []
  • I've never even played Final Fantasy once, so "avid" player is really not a term that applies to me.

    Actually, I'm a movie junkie, and other movie junkies, such as Ebert and Roeper, seem to agree more with me and your younger brother.

    I don't think that the story was anything special. Pretty well-tread fare to anybody with an even passing familiarity with anime.

    Film, like most performance art, is a medium where story is not always the point. Film-makers are allowed to speak in abstractions.

    For the life of me, I can't recall the exact plot of Bergman's "Wild Strawberries". It's been years since I've watched it. But the themes of lost innocence and the way the story was presented has managed to stick with me.

    Final Fantasy probably did not meet the expectations of a lot of people because it was not a typical sci fi action flick, nor did it contain the charms a typical cartoon. The structure and pace held little or no resemblence to the typical summer "blockbuster" (which it seems is what you were hoping for). It is a movie clearly built on the conventions of eastern films... not just Kurosawa's cowbows-with-katana films, but from Chinese dramas and Japanese anime. This makes it very different from what you usually see on the big screen in the US.

    Instead of speaking of it in contrast with "Tomb Raider" or "Pearl Harbor", I would put it on the same lofty shelf with the recent imports, "Princess Mononoke" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon".

  • Ah. Don't go to the Mall of America for movies if you can avoid it.

    It sucks.

    A mere 10 minutes South of the megamall (right down the Cedar Avenue highway), is the Regal Eagan 16. Better sound, better screens, stadium seating, and cheaper. (Take the Cliff Road exit from Cedar, and go East about 4 blocks).

  • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @08:31AM (#87471)
    Actually the characters in the Diablo II cutscenes showed more expression and emotion than in Final Fantasy.

    Which is why Final Fantasy was so much better than a Diablo II scene.

    In the scene where Aki cries, we don't get a big explosion of obvious, broad emotion. We get a very subtle, quiet shot of her fighting back tears. They moved her face as little as possible while still making it obvious that she was crying.

    Actors like Keven Spacey and Jack Lemmon dedicated their whole careers to achieving such understated gestures.

    You can have the mad old man in the Diablo II scenes, with all of his gimacing and hand-waving. The animator who drew Aki (each character had their own animator), the rotoscope model actress, and the voice actress should colectively get a "best actress" nomination.

  • by bk1e ( 176877 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @07:19AM (#87472)
    The movie was lip synced to English, not Japanese. The Japanese version will be either dubbed or subtitled (with original English dialogue), and will not have Japanese lip sync. Also, Japan will have to wait several months to see the movie, since it was released in the US first.
  • This should hold you over until then...

    8-bit theatre []

  • One of the first things you mention is that you haven't played the games. If you had you'd have had something to relate to.

    Let the fans deside if it's bad - the film is made for them.

    You take a very interesting point of view. Completely wrong in my opinion, but interesting.

    How many final fantasy players do you think exist in the world? How many millions were spent on the making of the film? Only a complete moron makes a blockbuster movie for .0001% of the population as witnessed by the Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat, and Street Fighter debacle. What I do find interesting is that you imply that Jon (or anyone else) has no right to review the movie because they didn't play the game? That's crazy. Although I don't play the game (nor plan to see the movie -- it looks stupid -- graphics aside), I'd be interested in seeing an unbiased post from a game player, if any slasdot readers can be passionate about something and unbiased at the same time.

  • Well, I found the plot to be lacking in a number of areas, like:

    1. How did collecting to spirits allow them to generate 'the wave'?
    2. How would the Zeus cannon damage Gaia?
    3. Why was the general such an ass?
    4. How did the humans manage to build the barrier cities when the aliens were so very effective at killing them?

    and so on and so on...

    Frankly, I think the plot could have been brilliant...had the put the same amount of detail into it as they invested in to the computer generated actors...

    All in all though, the movie, and ppl's reactions to it remind me a lot of the Wing Commander movie...which was actually not bad...but, was almost completely unrelated to the games.

    Just as Wing Commander wasn't Wing Commander, FF isn't FF. They're just cashing in on the francise. If they didn't, It's likely they wouldn't have gotten funding to make the movie in the first place...
  • The story was so-so, but the eye candy was fabulous.
  • This has been a common response to the Final Fantasy movie - that the games' plots are deeper. Guess what, give Square 70 hours of gameplay to develop characters & storyline and they're going to create something spectacular, as they have in the past. The movie is around 1:45. You really can't compare the two.
  • The story was so-so, but the eye candy was fabulous."

    Hehe. Funny.

    Katz: "Why is it always in a ruined Manhattan? "

    It's not always Manhattan. Red Dawn and Robotech both don't take place in Manhattan. I can name more.

    Finaly, Katz describes the characters as emotionless and plastic. I read somewhere that visually, CG animations will be able to replace characters in about 5 years, but the voices are no where near replacing an actors voice. I disagree. I think that the subtleties of human expression (facial, body language, etc.) are vastly more complex than those in the voice.

    If this is true, than we have a long time to wait until we have realistic animated actors with both voice and appearance.

  • Does he mean this is the first movie with animation instead of "real" photographs of "real" people?

    No, he's making a distinction between traditional animation, where you're expected to think of the characters as creations, not as actors, and FF which you're expected to experience as a live-action film although the actors are generated.

    Like the New York Times review said, Pearl Harbor probably also fit the bill as "human leads played by non-actors ."

    Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

  • by mr.nicholas ( 219881 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @06:44AM (#87513)
    I absolutely disagree; Final Fantasy was an excellent movie that pushed the boundaries of technology and story telling.

    The plot was captivating, even to someone who only has the faintest recollection of the video games: for those who played the games a lot, it was superb. Much like the original production of Dune: if you knew the books, it was one of the best movies made. If you didn't, you were lost. Though in the case of FF, being lost wasn't anywheres as bad as with Dune.

    But something that came to my mind while watching it was the format: full CG. It allowed the movie to have special effects that didn't break the mold of the movie. Let me try to explain myself here.

    It's like the video game, Metal Gear Solid. MGS never breaks from the format that you play it in: it's a continuous flow of action and graphics that is extremely smooth. The makers didn't break the format to go into "Cinemagraphic Sequences". Everything was in the same mode as game play. This created a suspension of disbelief that never needed to be broken.

    It's the same thing with Final Fantasy. Most movies, when special effects are added, LOOK like the effects are, well, ADDED. They are a second layer that is obviously ON TOP of the live action. Not so with FF! Because the ENTIRE movie is animated, the special effects don't have to break with the flow. The result is a movie where neat effects and the actors are lumped together into one unbreakable chain. The movie has a flow to it that you simply CANNOT imitate with live action.

    The actors(:) were amazingly smooth (though the opening sequence wasn't as good as I had expected it to be), the effects non-intrusive, the voice-overs excellently done.

    It of course does not rival live action (did you expect it to?), but in fifty years, when animation DOES 100% imitate life, people will look back at FF and say that THIS was the true beginning.

  • And I'm still nostalgic for those classic graphics from the first 6 FF's.
    Lets hope that next FF movie will use the 8bit Nintendo characters!
  • I think you're reviewing the wrong movie if you didn't expect it to be somewhat confusing to the newbie viewer,

    It is not unfair for Katz to point out that a movie has the flaw of assuming familiarity with the FF series. Jeez, if they really did intend requisite familiarity (and I bet you dollars-to-donuts the writers and studios did NOT intend such), why not tell people that ? As far as I am concerned, it is a bad movie indeed if it can only be properly enjoyed by a select few (where 'few' is relative to the movie-going public at large) who have some deep understanding of the games themselves.

  • Firts, thanks to Katz for having an opinion that is actually his own and not born of the group mentality every now and then.

    I liked the movie myself. Generally disliked the character animations. They reminded me of Blizzard's. Dummies that got a breath of light but didn't oil their joints. The characters were not fluid at all, Mainframe make the Transformers look more fluid than these characters.

    But this movie would not have worked at all if it was doen with real actors. The visual effects would have make the real actors seem completely out of place. So even though the characters looked great but moved like the Tin Man, they fit in with the world they inhabited.

    The story was so-so. Mad general with loyal following who wants nothing more than to blow stuff up out of revenge, scientests who just know that blowing stuff up will destroy the world.

    The main flaw with the story is that they had potential for a deep story, but they took a shallow sweep of a deep lake and only got the very top, freshest, smelliest stuff.

    What exactly are the spirits? Life energies? Souls? Some sort of collective? A gift from Gia? Why are there only eight of them? What could you have done with your almost romantic sub plot/comic relief characters if you didn't kill them? Just how mad is this general and why didn't you animate some of his backstory to give him more depth?

    Overall, this movie would have been better as say, a one season mini-series. The animation was great, and was the correct choice for the story. I'd give it an average over all. It didn't totally suck, but it didn't live up to what it could have been.
  • expect ff to sweep the Oscars

  • What you find lacking, is oddly one of the things I really liked about the film. It is really an eastern tale told and more or less packaged for us in the west. But if these eastern influanced, Hollywood polished tales are what I can expect when I go see a Sony/Columbia picture, I can see myself going just because I know that it will be different enough, and good enough to entertain me. But as to the end. The short commings of mans inability to manage the technology he creates solves the problem, but at the price of making his world smaller, and lesser. It's almost exactly the same story that Princess Mononoke tells. The primary difference being who's female and who's not, and the actual ending with respect to those characters.

    First off I'd like to pointlessly quibble about some semantics. The voices and motion capture I would consider acting, all else animating. That said, if you or anyone else told me that I would see a picture this summer that was 100% computer animated and would make me do a double take in any scene, I would have told you, "Cut back on the crack, it's affecting your judgement." Even then, there is expectation. Personally, if I lived in an appocolyptic future where invisible things could kill anything with only a touch, I can imagine I might be a little bit jadded. Perhaps after seeing this on a scale large enough to wipeout what would seem to be many billions of people, including most peoples families, I would think fear would be a rather indistinct emotion you feel, and acknowledge, before moving on. But its all about expectation. That can pretty dramatically change the movie going experience. I like stories I'm not familiar with. I watch a lot of them. (A mix of hong kong action, indepedent efforts, small studio efforts with a dash of different imports and probably most major studio releases) That and the fact I'm something of a sinophile certainly provides a different context for me, so my milage varies. One of the things I like about Sony's efforts at cultural assimilation is they don't pander to the American audiance. In a fair amount of Asian cinema, as in life, the best ending of all that might be possible is rare. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and even dramatic action movies like Bullet in the Head tell somewhat cautionary tales. The sun doesn't always have to come out tomorrow, nor should it, and it takes some guts to ignore the conventional wisdom, perhaps at the expense of the bottom line.

    I guess I can see why people pay to see the same movies over an over, they might not average a movie a week, so that new car smell may linger. Who knows. But to me, an experience taken from another culture but packaged just for me? And it's only $8.75, or $5.25 before 6? That's an offer I find hard to pass up.

    Even with all of this. Ignore the fact that this was essentially the first nearly photoreal cartoon. I challenge those who had problems with the acting, story and dialogue to put it up against the rest of the scifi genre. Quite frankly, the acting didn't have to be good to be better than its competition.

  • by Kibo ( 256105 ) <naw#gmail@com> on Saturday July 14, 2001 @02:46AM (#87538) Homepage
    Look if you can't get past your own religion to enjoy a story, then don't go see stories that present different perspectives. The terrible irony is, they gave a scientific explaination for the spirits and gaia. In fact they observationally proved them in the context of the story. You choose to reject this and ask them to present the story with an explaination which would be consistant with the real world we know and love? I hope I got that wrong. I really hope that is not what you mean, and those wild mushrooms I had with the chicken marsala were not what I think they were. Maybe the movie would have been more real if they all sat around eating mac and cheese out of self cooking pouches while they luxuriated watching the erotic clone of Brook Burke Wild Off Earth at the hottest lunar night spots, while their solar powered robomower took care of the grunt work.

    Seriously, maybe I took your comment as wrong as I could, but this reminds me of the time I went to see Mulan. During the avalanche scene a teenage girl behind me said, in disgust, "That's so fake." I'm sorry. Was she your sister? If I can find her, should I hook you two up? Maybe you were both lost. Cause in both cases you were in a movie theater, not a documentary theater.

    Do you really object to all films that have any kind of an afterlife ingrained in their stories? The list is literally huge, and some are even good. That said, since you're such a staunch proponant of micotargeted entertainment, did it perhaps occur to you that atheists are in the extream minority.

    Again I've got no problem with people who object to how a premise of a movie is carried out (as long as they agree with me). By and large I'm all about different strokes for different folks. But you're objecting to the premise of the movie period. Don't go see that movie. What's the point of subjecting yourself to something you know *before hand* you can't enjoy?

    The Force. WTF is that crap. Its so unrealistic, they've got pan-galactic travel, you'd think they could come up with a realistic explanation for the Force too. Duh.

  • by ocbwilg ( 259828 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @12:49PM (#87540)
    That's the best way to go, because it felt like a long cut-scene. It was beautiful graphically, but Katz does have some good points:

    One, the plot was pretty weak. In most movies, you have the baseline life, followed by a conflict, followed by a search for a remedy to the conflict, which finally climaxes and ends with an epilogue. At least that's the way that we do it in the states. In the FF movie, we start with the baseline and conflict having already been assumed, as well as the search for the remedy. They come in working towards what should be a climax, but since we have nothing to compare it with it doesn't seem like there was a climax. Finally the movie ends with a mellow song, with no explanation of life post-climax. Overall I think that it really reminds me of a lot of the anime that I've seen...pretty to look at, but hard to follow.

    Secondly, the "acting." Most of the time the scenes were beautifully done, but you could tell which ones were done by an animater and which ones were done with motion-capture. There is a very obvious difference in the movie. The motion-capture scenes were great. The range of facial expressions were iffy at best. Some of the simpler expressions (like when one of the women gives somebody the "cold shoulder treatment") were very realistic. I actually thought to myself, "Boy have I seen that expression before." Smiles were well done. But the more intense emotions (fear, rage, pain) were not displayed very well at all in their characters, making them seem somewhat...weak. I don't recall seeing the characters really blinking at all, which for some reason gave everything a dream-like quality. It's funny how you don't notice something so commonplace until it is gone.

    Overall, I was pleased with the effort. But then I only went to see the technology, not for the story.

    Say "NO!" to tax money for religious groups. []
  • He just doesn't get it. The story is complicated, contrived and disjoint. So what? The games are like that. Other anime is like that. That's the way it is supposed to be.

    I am sure that I will love this movie, and that 99% of the other people on Slashdot will also. Jon Katz just doesn't understand us.

  • While I do think Katz's review was a little bit harsh, you need to keep one thing in mind - this movie should be reviewed as a Movie, and not a video game brought to the big screen. It needs to be judged just like any other movie would be judged, except that it should be noted that it's basis comes from a video game series.

    The creator himself has commented in interviews that it isn't neccesarry that you have played the games to enjoy the film; if it did its job as a film, you wouldn't have had to play the game to understand it, as long as you pay attention and think about the plot a little bit. I'm not saying that Katz is right, but I am saying that we have to look at this as a movie, because that's what it really is. That's it for my little rant on the subject...
  • by cavemanf16 ( 303184 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @07:01AM (#87544) Homepage Journal
    Hmmm... That's an interesting viewpoint. My brother said it was a great movie too, and he's played just as much of the FF game series as I have (I've played through FF3, some of FF4, FF7, & FF9). This may be part of the reason why so many people are ripping the movie for its plot-line. If it IS based on the games closely, then I would expect it to contain the same elements of storytelling, which yes, to the uninitiated seem at first rather boring because of their simplicity, but usually get much more involving once the underlying stories come out.

    The only thing I could see being a problem is not enough time in the movie to develop the story fully, as in the FF series which even when played at a breakneck pace, usually takes 20+ hours (and can take 100+ hours going at a more inquisitive, slower pace). But for its technical merits and attempts at 'new things' (60,000+ strands of Aki's hair rendered!!!) I think I'll go see it.

  • This is the first feature-length movie from people who are more used to producing interactive rather than non-interactive entertainment. So it's not going to be up for Best Motion Picture at the Oscars. So what? What were you expecting?

    Very few artists who jump over to a media unfamiliar to them hit a home run first time round. There's this thing called learning the ropes. Final Fantasy the movie always was going to be about eye candy first and storyline second, so it's not surprising that it looks good but isn't necessary engaging. I wonder if Katz is an anime/manga fan, because I bet that, as well as FF gamers, they were their (cinema-going) target audience.

    Off the top of my head, I can't think of a single video/PC game-to-movie crossover that wasn't panned by the critics. Super Mario Bros, Double Dragon, Wing Commander, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider aren't exactly amongst the most critically acclaimed movies ever made, so why expect any more from FF?

  • (Alec) Baldwin . . .(a) non-actor

    hmm, well, come to think of it, that's about right.

  • Uh, what's not logical about the statement?

    "the first studio film"

    The first major studio...

    "ever with human leads"

    ...purposely human characters played in a dramatic role. Not "sub" characters like the little boy and girl in Toy Story...

    "played by non-actors"

    ...using animation.

    I know Katz gets a lot of flak, but come on. If you don't like his stories and only want to poke holes, turn off his articles in the settings.

  • If this is true, than we have a long time to wait

    Bzzzzzzttt!!! Grammar Error!!!

    I think, "If this is true then we have a log time to wait..." would be grammatically correct.



  • by StupidKatz ( 467476 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @08:49AM (#87583)
    Yep, I tend to agree...
    JonKatz: "I've never played the game".
    Translation: "I have no idea what Final Fantasy is about."

    "News flash! JonKatz doesn't like Final Fantasy type of stories!" should have been the body of the article. What am I saying? I am saying this review is exactly like the rest of the KatzRants(tm); overblown, exaggerated, and full of opinionated statements presented as fact.

    "give Tomb Raider some credit here"
    Two completely different genres here, KatzBoi. "I think Boston speakers suck! Pink Post-It notes are WAY better!", what the heck?

    "There is no acting to speak of, and how could there be? There are only disembodied [...] voices"
    Hello? Mr. Wizard? You slam a movie that was rendered by computers for having "only voices"? Whew, the stink is getting stronger the longer your mouth is open. The voice acting was just that; voice acting.

    "The overall affect is cold and fake."
    An angry military officer, whose family was wiped out by the phantoms, has become so blinded in his rage that he is willing to do anything to get revenge...
    A young scientist's apprentice, infected by a horror who's details are not known, is tossed about between finding an answer to defeat the enemy, romance, and the knowledge that her own time grows very short... Etc.
    So, Katz has a heart of granite. Big suprise.

    "the plot is just stupid, a loopy, quasi-religious narrative that posits that aliens landed on the earth [, ...] gobbled up most of its people and cities, for reasons that are never explained, and for that matter, are apparently inexplicable."
    To anyone who has seen the movie and posesses an IQ of 80 or more, this is, for lack of a worse word, utter bulls#it. I can see how Katz did not understand the plot, though.

    "Final Fantasy is bad news for moviegoers"
    This is a matter of opinion. Here's another matter of opinion: JonKatz needs an icepick lobotomy.

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10