Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) Hironobu Sakaguchi and Moto Sakakibara

Production Costs: $137 million
Worldwide Gross: $85 million
Subsequent Earnings: $79 million

The Final Fantasy game series has always been the most popular RPG game series, especially after the seventh installment of the franchise.  It was only a matter of time before SquareEnix tried to branch out in other markets.  Square Pictures did not want to do a simple anime style picture.  They wanted to create something never before done: a computer animated movie with photo realistic CGI humans.  It was a gutsy call that ultimately didn’t pay off.  It ended up being the second biggest animated bomb of all time.  I guarantee you that you will not guess the all time #1 animated bomb.  I will make it another trivia question but I don’t think any of you will get it.

The movie was ambitious, but very difficult to actually make.  The movie took four years to make.  Sometimes single frames would take hours as people would have to hand animate backgrounds and CG render the human characters.  As soon as the final shots were completed, the earlier shots had to be re-done because they looked different.  The script was re-written over 50 times.  Square did hire big name actors to voice their characters; Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, Donald Sutherland, and James Woods.  The story did not follow the usual Final Fantasy plots.  This one takes place in the future where a alien spirits invade and destroy everything in sight.  Dr. Aki must unlock the secrets of Gaia to stop the invasion.  Before the release of the film, the animation was being highly praised and many companies were talking about making films like this.  It was a different story when the movie was released.  The movie only made about $32 million in North America, bankrupting Square Pictures.  The critics who gave it bad reviews disliked it for the story and how wooden the animated characters looked.  Since then Square has only made one other movie (Final Flight of the Osiris).

Is it any good?  You know, I haven’t seen this film since it came out.  So I am not the best opinion on this.  But I thought it was alright when it came out.  The movie does look gorgeous.  If there was one thing I remember, it’s that I thought the story was weak: aliens hate how we hurt nature and we must love nature to stop evil.  The characters are two dimensional: James Woods (sneering evil guy), Aki Ross (goody two shoes).  But, like I said, it was alright.  I might check it out again to see if my opinion has changed.


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