t can you say about a movie that so completely follows a video game format, that it makes ou wish you had the game controllers handy while you're sitting in the theater? At least then you could have the satisfaction of blasting big guns at the evil aliens for yourself.
   Actually, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is a fairly entertaining film. At first, the realism of the computer animated actors is a little bit distracting. And, I had some trouble figuring out just what to focus on (maybe I'm video game challenged), because there doesn't seem to be a set field of focus for the `camera's eye' - everything appears equally focused on the screen.
   However, once you overcome the relatively small distractions, it's pretty easy to get into the story line and start to get to know the characters. Although the `actors' don't seem to have a whole lot of depth (no doubt because they are computer animated) the creators do their best to bring their characters to life.
   The year is 2065, and the earth is all but destroyed by an ongoing war against an almost unbeatable alien force.
   Beaten back by aliens who can't be seen with the naked eye, the refugees live in sealed `barrier cities' which the aliens aren't able to penetrate.
   The military is at the point where the final stand against the `phantoms' involves blasting the heck out of the earth with a cannon set in space.
   The scientists, on the other hand, have been working on something altogether different. A kinder, gentler solution to the `invasion'.
   Led by Aki Ross (Ming-Na-Wen), with the help of her mentor, Dr. Sid (Donald Sutherland), and the aid of the Deep Eyes squadron (high tech warriors), the scientists are on a quest for the last of eight `spirits' which together will restore balance to `Gaia' and rid the earth of the aliens.
   Time is running out for the scientists on both fields, as Aki, infected by the aliens, is struggling to understand the truth behind the invasion before she succumbs to the illness. While at the same time, General Hein has his finger on the trigger, just counting down to the moment when he can give the earth a good blast.
   Along the way Aki finds herself drawn back into a relationship with Gray Edwards (Alec Baldwin) _ even though there isn't time or space for love on this forlorn planet. But, in the end, it's love that saves the day.
   The plot for Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is a bit complicated, and I suspect that most movie goers will give up trying to figure it out well before the end of the film.
   However, for those who love a plot you have to ponder in order to understand, this film will have its rewards. The story drips with spiritual overtones of love overcoming fear, while keeping its familiar video quest plot in tact.
   I don't think this movie is for everyone, but it certainly makes for a good Saturday afternoon distraction.
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