the dream
the dream
Doctor Cid
The dream
General Hein
Dead land
Final Fantasy
The Spirits Within

Review of Hironobu Sakaguchi's film
   The story is set in 2065. A meteor crashed on Earth about forty years ago, releasing invisible ghost-like creatures (therefore nicknamed "phantoms") whose simple physical contact instantly destroys all life forms' energy (or 'spirit'). All the attacks led against them have not only failed but cost many lives. So, the few human survivors have been forced to hide inside cities protected by energy shields ever since. The tale begins as the army has just developed a new weapon of unprecedented destructive power, the Zeus canon. Convinced it is simply a case of alien invasion, General Hein is intent on using the canon against the creatures in order to destroy them once and for all. However, Doctor Sid believes that the problem is more complex as powerful energy sources are in conflict and that using this new weapon will not only have no effect on the creatures, but that it may also destroy the planet itself. He strongly believes the answer is to study and understand the phantoms. With the help of Doctor Aki, whom an alien race has been trying to communicate with through her dreams, he tries to find a more intelligent and wise solution to bring peace back on Earth.
   Wonderful is the first word that comes in mind when faced with the beauty of the images, the story, and the piano pieces. From the first image, fantasy does become reality and it is difficult to keep reminding oneself that these are all just drawings. So first, it is technically ground-breaking and there has been more hard work on this three-year project film than anyone could ever conceive. However, if it was just a technical success, this film would not feature in these reviews. It is a great film because it is excellent on many levels. It has a good story to tell, deals with philosophical issues (such as life and death, the physical and the spiritual realms, madness, duty, etc.), is artistically wonderful (camera moves, drawings, effects, lights, sounds are all perfect), is original, moving, exciting, mind-blowing and of course, prones courage, understanding, respect of all life forms, love and friendship, without forgetting to insist on the psychological and physical damages caused by war: all the usual elements we find in the Final Fantasy games series.
   The plot is reminiscent of the game Final Fantasy 7, though it has been highly simplified and much more time has unfortunately been allocated to the action than to the development of the actual story. So those who have not played the game or know little Asian theories (chakras, energies etc.) may not fully understand the deeper message of the film. FF team's philosophy seems to aim at creating high quality entertainments for teenagers (of all ages!) which simultaneously offers action and reflection, fun and drama, adventure and moral considerations, escapism and political undertones. The main point of the film seems to be that "intelligent beings" such as humans are their own worst ennemy and that their careless arrogant ways to deal with other life forms, their lack of considerations for nature, for instance through their constant wars and mad race for more and more destructive weapons, is detrimental, and may even one day be fatal to all life forms. One scene in particular is reminiscent of the Hiroshima nuclear blast and thus strongly illustrates this point and also brings a chilling real historical side to it.
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