Gaia Gaia Gaia…
Final Fantasy the Spirits Within (2001): 3 out of 10: Have you ever walked through the airport and seen one of those religious cult members with their robes and bald heads selling flowers? You ever wonder what would happen if you stuck up a conversation with one of them and went back to the compound in the unmarked white minivan? I imagine after 24 hours of food and sleep deprivation they would show you this film.
That’s exactly what Final Fantasy feels like. A cult recruiting film for James Lovelock’s Gaia theory. Really, forget Battlefield Earth (which was god awful but hardly filled Scientologist recruiting sites as people feared); forget The Passion of the Christ, heck even Triumph of the Will was less of a propaganda film.
Besides the heavy-handed religious message, the film itself is a mess. The basic plot has alien ghosts that kill on contact overrunning the earth. The one group wants to use a Death Star style laser in space (paid for by your tax dollars) to kill the deadly aliens. The other group wants to travel around collecting magic broccoli, so Gaia will use her spirit to drive away said ghosts. Guess what side the movie is on. To make the Gaia broccoli-collecting group look more reasonable, the movie stacks the deck by making the Laser people completely insane.
Even with the deck stacking and James Woods drooling as the mad general, I still wondered why they couldn’t try the laser? Oh, that’s right they might kill Gaia who lives under the earth like a cross between Lovecraft’s Old Ones and a hibernating Care Bear. The animation is groundbreaking for film but really not that much better than the cutscenes in the last few Final Fantasy video games. (Which the movie has literally nothing to do with. Even the tone of the film is all wrong.)
Either unknown voice work or live actors might have been a better choice in casting. The action scenes are well done though the ghosts aren’t exactly scary. The magic of the visuals wears off after twenty minutes. The irritation at the story, however, can last for weeks.