Ok, so I saw Final Fantasy
today. As anyone who browses my usersearch
knows, I am the quite Squaresoft
fan. Needless to say, I'd been anticipating this movie for quite some time.
For starters, let's give credit where credit is due. The movie was almost entirely produced and funded by Square, who has no parent company to augment their budget. On top of that, they managed to crank this thing out during the collective development of, among other RPGs, their two blockbuster hits Final Fantasy IX (Nov. 2000 in the US) and Final Fantasy X (Feb. 2002 in the US). As for the above comment about Nobuo Uematsu not scoring TSW, the simple fact that he was busy scoring Final Fantasy X probably precluded him from doing this. The budget here was $135 million USD, about 90% of which was footed by Square alone. Basically, I would've been surprised had this even been a mediocre film. However, it was far better than mediocre. Given the higher-than-expected US gross on the film thus far, I belive Square will probably make a profit on this.
Those who have played Final Fantasy VII (and who hasn't?) will notice many similarities between it and the movie. The protagonists include Aki Ross, the somewhat rebellious scientist trying to rid the earth of the enigmatic alien marauders who had come with a meteorite just three decades prior. She is aided along the way by Doctor Cid (his name is spelled "Sid" in the press releases, but clearly that is not how it should be spelled), and Gray, the macho-yet-sensitive spaceship captain.
One of the interesting things about FF:TSW was the portrayal of aliens as beings of energy and spirit, rather than of flesh. About half way through the movie, Aki makes a startling discovery about the origin and nature of the phantoms (as they are called by the characters), who devour human beings whole on contact, as well as infect and slowly destroy them in lower concentrations. She begins to wonder who, in fact, is really the enemy.
Aki was infected by contact with the phantoms, and has dreams about them whenever she sleeps. She believes, as a result, that finding the 8 "spirit waves" of Gaia, the spirit of the earth (aka the lifestream), will allow them to neutralize the phantoms. Her adversary is General Hein, who figures the best way to get rid of the phantoms is to zap them with the newly-invented Zeus cannon (kind of like the ion cannon in Command and Conquer). Aki and Cid soon realize that this is highly unadvisable, and do their best to stop him.
A lot of things struck me about this movie, one of which was the way color was used as imagery. Anything which was born of Earth was blue - we often equate blue with the earth, the oceans, etc. Anything born of the alien world was red, which goes along with the fact that Aki would always see their world dying in fire when she dreamed.
I'd go more in detail about the CG, but you probably already know. It was done on a ton of SGI machines, it took over two years, they look very lifelike, yadda. We've all seen the FMVs in the video games and we know Square is capable of stunning CG video. TSW is no exception. This is not Toy Story, folks. The people look more photorealistic than any computer generated animation I, or probably anyone else, has ever seen.
While there are no chocobos, moogles, or oversized swords, this movie is definitely Final Fantasy. Most of the "traditions" from FF wouldn't really fit the "dark city" motif of TSW. None the less, this is truly an accomplishment. Major kudos to Square on a job well done.
If you like the FF games, you will like this movie. If you like post-apocolyptic sci fi, you will like this movie. If you're of the philosophy that "special effects = bad movie", or you go into any film just looking for something to bitch about, you won't like this movie. But then again, you didn't need me to tell you that.