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Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within 4K UHD Review

Groundbreaking visuals can’t make up for poor storytelling.

Based on the popular Square Enix video game franchise, 2001’s “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” is set on a post-apocalyptic Earth that has become overrun by aliens known as Phantoms. The Phantoms pose a threat to human kind in that they either drain the spirit from a human or infect them. The story revolves around a scientist named Dr. Aki Ross who has an alien infection mixed with strange visions. Ross and fellow scientist Dr. Sid discover that collecting 8 lifeform spirits could drive the Phantoms off. Of course, finding the spirits will be a challenge in and of itself. The villainous General Hein (who wants to use a weapon on the Phantoms) could also derail the entire mission to save humanity.

In terms of cinematic history, director Hironobu Sakaguchi’s “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” was groundbreaking for being the first photorealistic CGI animated feature film. While animation has undeniably evolved in the past 20 years, it’s still remarkable to see how ahead of its time the movie was. Everything from the environments and the Phantoms to the facial expressions and character movements were stunning achievements in animation. It’s just a shame the movie itself wasn’t better.

The script by Al Reinert and Jeff Vintar leaves a lot to be desired. Not only is it puzzling that the plot isn’t more connected to the video game series, but the story itself is derivative in virtually every respect. The alien invasion angle was played out even then, the villainous General plotline has been done to death, the central romance with Aki and Captain Gray is forced, and the themes/plot about spirits and nature are hardly new territory.

Not even the characters are very well scripted here. Most of them are downright stuff. You’d think an all-star voice cast featuring Steve Buscemi, Donald Sutherland, Alec Baldwin, James Woods, Keith David, Ving Rhames, and Ming-Na would be dynamic, but alas no. They merely look great and that’s about it.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1 2160p. How does it look? The animation looks striking on 4K. Fans will be pleased.

Audio Track: Dolby Atmos. How does it sound? Expect a very active Atmos track that delivers in the action and sound f/x departments.

Extras (on the Blu-ray):
* Digital copy
* Blu-ray copy
* Character profiles for Dr. Aki Ross, General Hein, Jane, Neil, Ryan, Gray Edwards and Dr. Sio.
* 3 vehicle scale comparisons of Blandir, Black Bor and Quatro.
* Teaser and theatrical trailers and trailers for “Ultraviolet” and “Ghost Rider.”
* English co-director and crew commentary, French and English animation director, staging director and editor commentary, and French and English co-director and crew commentary.
* Half-hour interactive making of documentary linkout with optional commentary. In French and English.
*”Aki’s Dream Reconstruction”- The full cut together dream sequence.
* Joke outtakes in animation render form.
* A CGI/live-action clip of Aki on set.
* “Compositing Builds”- A look at the CGI designing.
* “Matte Art Explorations”- A look at the backdrops.
* The original opening
* “The Gray Project”- Rough animation samples.
* “Trailer Explorations”- A making of trailer interview

November 17, 2021 - Posted by | 4K UHD Review | , , , , , , ,

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