Random Nonsense

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within- A review
harkovast at 6:52AM, Oct. 13, 2009
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Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
CGI….never has there been a more poisoned chalice for movie makers. It promises so much and yet some how always ends up making every movie it touches look like a pixelated stack of shit.
The only more dangerous temptation a movie maker can succumb too is to make a movie based on a computer game.

Fortunately, Final Fantasy only falls into the first of these two traps.

Oh now I know what you are thinking “Oh no! This one was based after the Final Fantasy Games! Hark a total retard to not know that!”

But if you believe this you are making a fundamental error.

This movie has literally NOTHING to do with the popular computer game franchise.
Not one character, not one concept, not the setting, not a damn thing. (Okay, I think it includes a character called ‘Sid’ which is something the Final Fantasy Developers get a chubby for, but that’s it!)
It has the name slapped on the front. That is all.

To say this is based on Final Fantasy would be like me making a low quality Saturday morning cartoon show about chairs that can turn into dragons and fight a chain smoking space wizard, calling is “Saving Private Ryan- The Magic Beyond” and saying it is based on the original movie!

But who cares if it is close to the games, right? We are not here to please the fan boys. If the movie is good, then that’s all that counts, right?

The first thing to notice about this show, other then the fact it literally could not have less to do with its supposed source material, is that it is (as I implied in my opening) CGI.
It was one of the first all CGI movies, and there was quite a lot of talk at the time about how this would be the first of a new wave of movies that would use CGI actors to make regular actors obsolete.
Back in ancient times, when some guy first realised he could put a sock on each hand and make a puppet show, I am sure there were people who said “Oh no! Sock puppets are going to replace actors! One puppeteer can operate two socks at a time! That’s half the price per actor! Acting as we know it is dead!”
Sock puppets did not, shockingly, remove the need for actors and in the same way, poorly rendered, stiff, emotionless CGI manikins did not get rid of the desire for live actors either.
Who would have guessed?

The characters look TERRIBLE! Dead, waxy, zombie like figures, staring with glassy eyes from deep within the uncanny valley!
This compiles with clunky dialogue and one dimensional characters to make an emotionally empty experience. Sock puppets would have worked far better to get an emotional response from me. Fuck, at least sock puppets would be kind of funny!

In the promotion of the movie the main characters long shiny hair got a lot of publicity and how much work went into animating.
Wow! Just wow!
Have you ever heard of a movie where the leading actresses fucking HAIR was the main focus?
Not the plot, not the drama, not the characters, not the sci fi elements….no, the makers of this film thought that the main woman’s HAIR was the most fucking interesting thing in their movie.
And if the people who MADE the fucking thing think it is so worthless that CIG effects on someone’s hair are the most interesting thing that happens, you know the movie is fucked!
And the saddest part? Her hair looks like shit!
It looked shit at the time and it looks shit now!
Playstation 1 graphics could manage hair effects this convincing! I remember seeing them on the intro to fucking Tekken!
Not only did all this hair dressing bullshit in the promotion show how pathetic the movie was going to be, it caused to look at all the characters hair styles during the movie. And you know what I noticed? Not how wonderful the main woman’s hair was, oh no. It made me notice how SHIT everyone else’s hair was! It was painted on their fucking heards! How much fucking moose are people in the future supposed to use? Even the other woman in the film (yeah there are only two women, but there aren’t that many characters anyway…hell calling them characters is a stretch anyway!) has her hair constantly pulled back as tight as it will go to make sure there is no need for it to do any movement at all and push this barbershop shit pile over budget!

To give the film some credit, the evil aliens that they fight are cool looking (all glowy and red) and had really freaky method of attack (pulling your glowy blue soul right out of ya!)
Unfortunately they are handled so laughably badly as to make some scene cringe inducing!
Firstly, these aliens are normally invisible, but the human soldiers use special flares to make them glow red so they can see them.
Sounds cool so far, right?
Unfortunately the film makers seemed to realise that invisible aliens don’t look interesting and so they ALWAYS find a contrivance to turn them visible (“They’ve gone through the power grid and that makes them glow, sir!”). By the end of the film they cant seem to even be bothered to contrive the plot and just have the aliens always glowing red for no reason other then the audiences benefit.
If having invisible aliens was such a problem….WHY NOT JUST MAKE THE FUCKERS VISIBLE? If they wanted the things to always glow red, why not just have em do that? What was the point?
At the start of the film the aliens seem dangerous, but the human soldiers seem pretty efficient at dealing with them, taking them out with their rifles and using tactics and stuff.
Strangely as the film goes on, the aliens seem to suffer reverse villain decay. Gradually the soldiers seem to become more and more goofy, firing weapons ineffectually (which previously tore the monsters apart), seemingly baffled when they encounter a larger monster (have they never met one before or something?) Are the soldiers are able to fight these things or not? The movie makers seem to have no idea.

Another amusing touch is that at the start of the film, all the main characters have cool sci fi helmets on (cheaper to animate, ya see?) But once they take off their helmets and become ‘characters’ (I use the term very loosely here) they never put the things back on. They instead get funny headset things so we can tell who is who.
When other soldiers show up (a merry little red shirt army) they all get face covering helmets, so why do the main characters stop wearing them? If they don’t need the helmets, why is anyone wearing them?
The answer of course, is that this movie was made by hacks.
The helmets cover up faces, thus saving the animators a lot of work. Once the main characters are established we need to know who is who though, so they stop wearing the things.
This is incompetent CGI film making 101, it really is.

And what about the ‘plot’? (Again, we are using the term very, very loosely here!)
Basically aliens who may or may not be invisible have crash landed on earth and killed everyone (and apparently turned the survivors into poorly CGI’ed shop dummies.)
A General says they should nuke the fuckers from orbit, but some scientist and his freak, floppy haired daughter want to stop him from destroying their enemy with a sensible attack. The bonkers scientist instead wants to collect 7 spirits that will do…something.
I suppose I should point out that the scientist and the floppy hairs daughter are the good guys and their nonsensical bullshit plan which is never really explained is the right one, anything else is evil….because the movie says so.
This movie tries to pretend it is being deep and sending a message, but it is just pretentious twaddle dressed up in computerised window dressing.
There is a big ‘shocking revelation’ that the aliens are ghosts of dead aliens (oh no a spoiler!) But the surprise was slightly blown by the fact they call the aliens Phantoms and they are ghostly beings that pull your soul out! If they WEREN’T ghosts I would have been surprised!
Whats next? Blood sucking undead who sleep in coffins and fear sunlight, and the big twist is….they are VAMPIRES! Ooooh! Big shocker there numb nuts! The 6th sense it aint!

How does it end? I’m not even sure. Lots of glowy nonsense and jibber jabba from a bunch of asshole Thunder bird rejects I don’t give a shit about!
Fuck.
This.
Noise!

What is really embarrassing is that the cast of this abortion is really top notch!
James Woods, Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, Donald fucking Sutherland, this is every animated movie makers wet dream!
But they are all utterly wasted churning out nonsense sci fi/ spiritual mumbo jumbo that sounds like it was poorly translated from Japanese (and probably was, to be honest!)
By the end you half expect someone to say “All your base are belong to us!”

CGI is over rated! Shrek 1 and 2 were good INSPITE of the crappy CGI, not because of it!
What was wrong with traditional animation?
The Lion King looked cool!
Beauty and the Beast looked awesome (except, ironically, the crappy CGI bits!)
With those old shows characters could express emotion, they could create drama I could really care about.
Compare that to the ugly bullshit visuals of Star Wars: The Clone Wars (aka: A new hope to sell toys) and you tell me which looks better!

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within will not appeal to people who didn’t play the games.
It also won’t appeal to people who did play the games.
And it won’t appeal to people who have eyes, or ears, or brains, or who are awake.

This movie is a disaster! It fails on every level of characterisation and story telling.
Whoever made it should be exiled to a final fantasy cosplay convention for life, to suffer oversized foam buster swords and stupid hair cuts for all eternity!

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
DuckInspector at 9:53AM, Oct. 13, 2009
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This came out when i was younger and didn't bother to examine movies (i had much lower standards back then) I hated it, i really really hated it and it's good to see it's head falling into the basket from the blade of the guillotine…i love metaphors…
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
Wordweaver_three at 11:23AM, Oct. 15, 2009
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There were 20,000 individual hairs on her head. 80% of the animation budget was spent on her hair alone. Which probably explaines why everyone else looked like a ken doll.

This movie made Titan AE seem tolerable. At least Titan was hand drawn.

I've given my opinion on CGI before, and since I have no great love for movies right now that are drowned in computer graphics, you might well imagine that FF:TSW made me want to peel my eyes out of my skull and eat them like grapes. Far preferable to sitting through this seizure-inducing bedpan fodder.

Now, slightly off subject, but this seems like as good a place as any to bring it up: Has anyone notice the massive influx of animated movies that came out this year? Every time you turn on the television there's a new animated enema being advertised. Turns out that every idiot with access to a computer and a handful of voice talents thinks they can make a movie now.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
harkovast at 2:59PM, Oct. 15, 2009
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Yeah, there do seem to be a lot about.
They seem a very mixed bag of quality.
That one “9” looks interesting, though I hear the ending is a bit weak. The whacky visuals and odd characters look fun.

I haven't seen it but apparantly that Coraline was done without any CGI nonsense at all. They actually made models for everything.
Might be worth a look.

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
Wordweaver_three at 4:48PM, Oct. 15, 2009
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No, Coraline was stop motion animation, my favorite animation form. It's so classic, raw and simple. It can be anything from Seth Green playing with Barbie dolls, Ray Harryhausen filming a monstrous Kraken on his dinning room table, or Tim Burton's Coraline with miniature sweaters that took six months to knit.

I had thought Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride were staggering productions, but Coraline was head and shoulders above them as far as scale. They really did everything that was absolutely possible with the form. Intricately detailed with few expenses spared. The end result is more a work of art then a movie. CGI does not capture the texture and humanity that stop motion does.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
harkovast at 6:01PM, Oct. 15, 2009
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If its stop motion we are talking about- Wallace and Gromit!
They kick butt!
Americans probably don't know who they are, but suffice to say, they get an amazing amount of expression out of a dog that's only expressing facial feature is a single eye brow!

Cracking toast, Gromit!

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
RED_NED at 3:27AM, Oct. 17, 2009
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Haha, wheres the love for the good old cgi? :(

Spirits within was incredible for its special effects, yeah the film was an abysmal pile of shit, but the cgi was amazing for the time.

To be honest, I like cgi films just for the visuals. The same way as watching a stop motion animation makes you think about the way it was made when you watch it. Which is a perverse thing, because you should be so sucked into the story that you forget the tools which were used to make it.

The biggest problem with cgi is when they just bung it into normal films for special effects. When you can stand back and go ‘oh that was cgi’ is a bad thing. As amazing as gollum looks in lord of the rings, its obvious he's cgi, which is such a shame.

100% cgi films are good imo because they dont try and fool you into thinking its real, they have this ‘cgi cartoony look’ which is carried through the film.

The main let down is when a film has no soul and relies on its graphics. Any cgi film which has likable characters and a riveting story is great.

Theres so many great cgi films, Shrek 1 and 2 were great (havent seen the 3rd one), The toy story films were kick ass (hope the new one wont be shit,)Finding nemo is phenominal, Wall-E is a masterpiece. Monsters Inc was lovable.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
harkovast at 5:35AM, Oct. 17, 2009
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Red Ned- You make a good case, I guess final fantasy tried to use CGI in place of a story, rather then as a way to tell a story.

I cant really dispute those movies you point too (though I still prefer traditional animation.)

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
confusedsoul at 3:48PM, Feb. 22, 2010
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CGI has to have a slightly cartoony appearance because if the makers make anything look realistic it will instantly ostracise the audience by stepping very cleanly into the uncanny valley. That's why Pixar had to redo Toy Story 2 visually because the graphics were getting so close to realism/hyper-realism that they needed to take a step back.

Coraline isn't completely stop motion, the characters faces are digitally retouched to hide the join of the mouth to the face and the flower garden/ unravvelling world was CGI.

Still a great example of stop motion work though.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
harkovast at 5:27PM, Feb. 22, 2010
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Confused- using CGI to enhance an image or clean up animation is fine by me. I do that with every page of Harkovast, so I certainly see the value there.
But adding to and touching up an existing image is very different from making an image from scratch, and that is where it falls down.

A great example of CGI is in Shawn of the Dead. A lot of people might respond “that didn't have any CGI in it, did it?” And I say to them “exactly!”
Several effects, like bloody sprays, looking through the hole in a person and white eyes on zombies were accomplished using computers. If you dont know to look for it, you are unlikely to notice where the CGI appeared. And to me, that is the perfect use of CGI.

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
Genejoke at 7:21AM, June 1, 2010
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The one thing taken from the final fantasy that made it in to the film was the whole gaia theory stuff which is pretty much the plot of every final fantasy game.

Overall cgi is not a bad thing it is like any form of animation or effects, it isn't the tool that is the problem but how it is used.

there are tons of decent cgi films now, some may be technically superior to others but other aspects can make them shine.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
harkovast at 10:10AM, June 1, 2010
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Can you back up your statement with some examples?
As I mentioned, there are some good CGI films, but they are usually good inspite of the crappy computer graphics, not because of them.

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
Genejoke at 5:22PM, June 1, 2010
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Flushed away, technically not a patch on pixar movies but has a similar charm to other aardman movies. the overall quality of cg movies has improved so much that even weaker animation is still pretty good. And it isn't just animation its design and the level of detail.

Sure pixar are excellent but with films like happy feet, how to train your dragon and many others that don't spring to mind they will find it harder to keep head and shoulders above the rest.

Disneys the wild, while not a masterpiece is still a solid film. Not every animated film will be an all time classic.

My kids prefer flushed away and the wild to wall E or up, I think with up they just don't get the opening act. far too mature for them at the moment.

You say good in spite of crappy animation but how many cg films made in the last five years really have crappy animation? Okay the reef but that isn't good an any level, just like shark tale, except that isn't that badly animated.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
harkovast at 12:21AM, June 2, 2010
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Okay, Wall-E was really, really good, I'll give you that.
And so was finding Nemo.
And obviously Toy Story 1 + 2 (still plenty of time to screw it up with a third one though!)
But Flushed Away was pants! The plot was an absolute mess of poorly realised concepts and the authors seemed to be struggling to remember what the main characters personality was supposed to be (he started the movie appearing to be whacky and insane but was then 100% normal for the rest of it!)


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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
Genejoke at 12:51AM, June 2, 2010
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But you are judging it as an adult. Kids love it but fail to grasp the subtleties of Wall E or up, Nemo is straight forward enough.

As for the character of Roddy… I half agree, the idea behind it is solid enough, he is s lonely and eccentric guy and when he adjusts to being around people he becomes more normal but yeah not that well executed. I try not to be too demanding of kids films. or films in general actually, I'm easily entertained.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
harkovast at 3:01AM, June 2, 2010
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That does it! I am doing an angry review of flushed away!
Time to lay the smack down on those computerised critters!

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last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM
Genejoke at 11:01AM, June 4, 2010
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Going to rewatch FF spirits within tonight, see how I think it holds up.

How to train your dragon. very good film.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:17AM

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