Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)
DVD reviewed by Dennis A. Amith
CAST:
Ming-Na Wen, Allen Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Ving Rhames, Peri Gilpin, James Woods and more.
DIRECTED BY: Hironobu Sakaguchi, Motonori Sakakibara 
PRODUCED BY: Hironobu Sakaguchi, Al Reinert
RATING: PG-13
INTERNET MOVIE DATABASE URL: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0050212 
TYPE OF MOVIE: Animation, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, War, Action
DURATION: 106 minutes

 
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DVD EASTER EGGS
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Movie Synopsis:

In the year 2065, the next great assault against an invading race of phantom-like aliens is about to be launched. Dr. Aki Ross, a brilliant young scientist, races to find the invaders' secrets, not only to save the planet, but herself as well after her body is infected by alien particles. She teams up with the prestigious Deep Eyes military squadron, led by her old friend Grey Edwards. But as Aki, her mentor Dr. Sid, and Grey work toward a peaceful end, the scheming General Hein devises a plot to eradicate the aliens in one swift, destructive blow...even if it destroys the Earth right along with them.


Edition Details:

Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
 Color, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, Dolby
Production notes
Theatrical trailer(s)
DISC ONE
Feature-length commentary by co-director Motonori Sakakibara, sequence supervisor Hiroyuki Hayashida, sets & props lead artist Tatsuro Maruyama, and Phantom supervisor Takao Noguchi (in Japanese with English or French subtitles)
Feature-length commentary by animation director Andy Jones, editor Chris S. Capp, and staging director Tani Kunitake
Isolated score with commentary by composer Elliot Goldenthal
Storyboard/Playblast selects of the film with optional filmmaker commentary or subtitled factoids
Interactive animated menus, featuring CGI introductions created by Square Pictures


DISC TWO:
Original interactive documentary: "The Making of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within." Dig deeper and link out to information pods that spotlight: Final Fantasy Thriller music video, mini-movie: Aki's Dream, two face wraps (Aki, Dr. Sid), character morphs, matte art explorations, compositing builds
Multiple workshops including: seven in-depth character files, three vehicle scale comparisons (Bandit, Quatro, Black Boa), trailer explorations, sets and props
Final Fantasy Shuffler: Become the filmmaker by re-editing the council conference-room scene from the film. Complete the edit and play back your final cut.
DVD-ROM exclusive interactive film exploration: complete screenplay, virtual tour of Square Pictures, screensaver, Weblinks
Interactive animated menus
Widescreen anamorphic format
 Number of discs: 2

KNOWN DVD SECRET(S): MANY EASTER EGGS

Thriller spoof:
Insert the Bonus Disc and select the "Highlights" option. Advance to the second screen. Press Down to move to the bottom of the screen, with triangle in a circle icon. Press Right, Right to highlight the small blue box in the lower right part of the screen. Press Enter to view a remake of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" music video featuring the cast of the movie. Alternately, play Title 1, Chapter 45.

Aki's clothes models:
Insert Disc 1 and select the "Special Features" option at the main menu. Select "DVD-ROM Content", then press Up, Up. Highlight the Japanese text and press Enter to view Aki in various clothing.

Aki's face model:
Insert the Bonus Disc and select the "Play Documentary" option at the main menu. Press Left, Up to highlight Japanese text. Press Enter to view a model of Aki's face. Alternately, advance to Title 1, Chapter 10.

Pre-production art:
Insert the Bonus Disc and select the "Highlights" option at the main menu. Press Right, Down to highlight a coffin icon. Press Enter to view a pre-production story board. Alternately, play Title 1, Chapter 42.

Insert the Bonus Disc and select the "Highlights" option at the main menu. Select the "Character Files" option. While Aki is highlighted, press Down to highlight the "Back" icon. Press Right, Left to highlight the circular icon. Press Enter to view another story board. Alternately, play Title 1, Chapter 43.

Insert the Bonus Disc and select the "Highlights" option at the main menu. Select the "Vehicle Scale Comparison" option. Images of Bandit, Black Boa and Quatro will appear. Highlight Bandit then press Down, Right, Right to highlight a blue star in a circle. Press Enter to view pre-production vehicle art from the movie. Alternately, play Title 1, Chapter 44.

Insert the Bonus Disc and select the "Highlights" option at the main menu. Advance to the second screen, then select the "DVD-ROM Content" option. Press Up, Right to highlight an icon. Press Enter to view a pre-production story board for the Gaia Crater. Alternately, play Title 1, Chapter 41.


DVD REVIEW:

I have been a big fan of many of the Final Fantasy games since game 1 came out in the US.  I have been highly anticipating this movie since release but due to the lack of decent courtesy in our local theaters of late, I decided to wait for the DVD to come out and I'm glad that I waited.

The first film from the now-defunct Square Pictures was an expensive project that took several years to complete.  Unfortunately, the movie was not well received in the summer 2001 because like Japanese animation, many people think anime is for kids and for CGI rendered animation, only for kids.

Not in this case.  If anything, I think kids will be in awe by the spectacular computer graphics but the storyline is a bit too much for kids to understand.  Some say the movie was quite cerebral or too "Nausicaa" like.  

But after watching the movie on DVD, I was amazed by how the characters almost look like real humans.  The storyline was good but for me it ended and then I felt "I think I know what the director was trying to imply".  

But all in all the movie's graphics were outstanding, the acting was good considering the voice actor's were popular actors.  But the storyline was good but not great.

As for the DVD, again the sound was terrific and the video since it was remastered from the original digital master, you get an awesome version of the movie on DVD.  My gosh, to see the skin on the Aki and the doctor was impressive.  The colors of the fire and the phantoms were beautiful.  

As for the special features, this DVD was jam-packed.  In fact, the first disk gives you a few reasons to watch the movie several times because of the regular movie, commentaries and then the storyboard version of the movie.  Very nice! 

The second DVD features a documentary, workshops, Final Fantasy shuffler so you can re-edit the scenes (similar to the more expensive "Men in Black" DVD release) and much more.

All in all, you get a bang for your buck by buying this DVD.  If you want to see the best looking computer animated film EVER made at this time, check out "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within".  

THE MOVIE: B
THE DVD EXTRAS: A
THE DVD OVERALL: A-

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