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If we give any credence to Hollywood's latest sci-fi releases, the future of our planet is doomed. Cities submerged by melting ice caps (A.I. Artificial Intelligence), earth-shattering meteors oozing with alien slime (Evolution) and landscapes toasted by invading phantoms (Final Fantasy) give a bleak outlook for the human race.
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within takes place on a burned-out planet devoid of almost any life forms other than those within the protective domes of barrier cities. On the outside, raging ghost-like invaders stalk the deserted wastelands. Dr. Aki Ross (Ming-Na), infected with particles from the alien phantoms, is on a mission to collect living spirits to create an antidote for herself and the ailing Earth. But her reckless attitude often jeopardizes the lives of a venerated military squadron commanded by her friend, Captain Grey Edwards (Alec Baldwin) who is sent in to rescue the young scientist from the transparent phantoms. Along with her mentor, Dr. Sid (Donald Sutherland), Aki pleads with the ruling Council for time to complete their research before the belligerent General Hein (James Wood) blasts the aliens with his high-powered Zulu laser and endangers the existence of the planet.
Although director Hironabu Sakaguchi stages some stunning computer animation that raises this film genre to a new plateau, his characters lack the endearing charm and depth needed to invoke sympathy. An hour of aggressive alien slaughter left me feeling like I was watching a long version video game without the advantage of a pause button. While the avid gamers may enjoy this movie, they may be more interested in the yet-to-be-released enhanced DVD version of the movie that will allow gamers to play along. Parents on the other hand should take notice of the PG-13 rating for violence. In the meantime, Hollywood's real life actors can rest easier knowing that their futures are not yet lost to their computer-generated counterparts.
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is rated PG-13: for sci-fi action violence.
Cast: Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi
Studio: (pictures (c)2001 Columbia Pictures)