Final Fantasy Review by David Richards

There have been scores of other movies based on video games, but Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is in a league of its own.
   On the outside, the computer animation is enough to throw its audiences into wide-eyed amazement, while the story, one that embodies originality, adds even more life to the already realistic looking characters.
   While the film is very much worthy of the price of admission, I presume older teens and fans of the video game, especially fans of Final Fantasy VIII which the movie is supposed to be mostly based on, will get the most enjoyment out of seeing it.
   The plot revolves around the determination and dedication of the heroine Aki Ross (Ming-Na Wen), who is in search of the eight spirits which, in her mind, hold the power to defeat the Earth-threatening phantoms.
   It isn't long into the film that we learn young Aki is deathly ill because one of the phantoms is living inside of her.
   With her mentor Dr. Sid (Donald Sutherland), and several others, Aki and her cohorts quickly become aligned on a collision course with the phantoms, ultimately trying to save planet Earth as well as themselves.
   The animation is really what makes Final Fantasy tick. Combined with suspense and human emotions, there were times in the film where I thought I was actually on screen with the characters. For instance, the scene in which Aki is in a race against time to save a love interest from a phantom attack is so complex it's almost believable.
   The creators also care enough to pay attention to the most minute details of the film, which isn't always easy when it comes to animation.
   We watch as characters step in puddles of water creating a ripple effect, and we see the reflections of their faces when they appear in glass objects such as mirrors and windows.
   Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of the film, though, is the voice contribution of Sutherland whose soft-spoken speech adds impact and a certain presence to the story line.
   While some scenes are slow, Final Fantasy is a masterpiece of its own kind as a whole. It's part Ghostbusters, part Aliens and part some great computer animation film that hasn't even been invented yet.