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Movie Review

Based on a popular video game series, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within combines state-of-the-art technology with Neo-Pagan theology for a summer sci-fi hit that’s part escapist fun, part spiritual counterfeit.

This spectral cousin of Aliens and Alien3 finds a remnant of humanity staving off voracious ghosts that feed on their victims’ spirits. A reckless general wants to wipe out the invaders with a weapon of mass destruction. Scientists Aki Ross and Dr. Sid prefer a more environmentally friendly approach based on a wave of spiritual energy. But time’s running out. Especially for Ms. Ross, who has been inhabited by phantom goo. A brave team of commandos joins the fight, blasting translucent beasts while shuttling the scientists on their search for missing spirits (located in fish, deer, plants, etc.).

Will teens want to see Final Fantasy? Absolutely—if only to witness the most realistic computer-generated humans ever put on the big screen (an amazing feat). But what else awaits young viewers in the year 2065?

The film’s action violence and horror/fantasy elements are intense, but not over the top. There’s also some profanity. The biggest concern relates to the story’s metaphysical underpinnings in "Gaia," an actual worldview named for a Greek Earth goddess. It holds that the planet and all living things are part of "god" and can be injured or destroyed. Gaia is theimpersonal force made up of all organic and inorganic matter. The Bible exists in director Hironobu Sakaguchi’s Fantasy (there’s an allusion to Noah’s Ark), but it’s impotent and irrelevant. Instead we get the slickest presentation of eco-pantheism since Pocahontas.

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PG-13

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Cast

the vocal talents of Ming-Na as Dr. Aki Ross; Alec Baldwin as Capt. Gray Edwards; Ving Rhames as Sgt. Ryan Whitaker; Steve Buscemi as Officer Neil Fleming; Peri Gilpin as Officer Jane Proudfoot; Donald Sutherland as Dr. Sid; James Woods as General Hein

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Hironobu Sakaguchi ( )Sakakibara Motonori ( )

Distributor

Columbia TriStar

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Reviewer

Bob Smithouser

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