Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within Movie Poster Image
First computer animated movie to "star" actors.
  • PG-13
  • 2001
  • 106 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.


Scary monsters, many killed; major characters in peril.


Brief mild language.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie includes brief strong language and extreme prolonged peril, with the violent death of many major characters.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6 and 8-year-old Written byYBNormal January 7, 2009
Parent of a 11, 15, and 18+-year-old Written byJulieKryger1970 January 5, 2009
Teen, 16 years old Written byRyanRaptor August 19, 2012


I was only able to watch about 15 minutes before they used J***s name in vain. Probably means there is a lot of language in the movie to come.
Teen, 15 years old Written byevolinag August 27, 2011

The first FF movie is animated very well, but has an average script.

The first "Final Fantasy" movie, based upon the popular video game franchise is visually at the highest level, the computer generated character look v... Continue reading

What's the story?

FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN is the first computer-animated movie to "star" actors (real actors acted out all the movements for the animators). This movie gives us human characters with pores in their skin and beard stubble; they're so real that at moments you can forget that they're made up of pixels and not DNA. The story takes place in 2065, and Earth is controlled by monstrous alien spirits. When one of the aliens infects Dr. Aki (voice of Ming-Na), she sets out with a team to uncover the monster spirits' makeup and mission on Earth in hopes of finding a way to eliminate them. Aki's research is hampered by militaristic General Hein (James Woods), who wants to eradicate them even if it means destroying the entire planet.

Is it any good?

The movie's effects work best when the "actors" are moving, because their movements are based on that oldest of animation techniques, rotoscoping. They do less well when it comes to talking and, well, acting. In more standard animation, the conventions allow for a level of exaggeration and omission that allows us to project human-like reactions onto a character. But when we see something with so little difference from humans, it just makes clearer how important that difference is. Movie fans might also find it distracting to hear such instantly recognizable voices (James Woods, Ving Rhames, Peri Gilpin, Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Donald Sutherland) coming from faces so incongruously different from our associations.

Still, the technology is stunning. The monsters are extraordinary creations, somewhere between dinosaurs, dragons, jellyfish, and squid. A scene with a soaring eagle is breathtaking, genuinely touching. The post apocalyptic-settings are complex and believable. The dialogue is passable, delivered with panache by first-rate talent (Buscemi, as always, is a highlight). The problem is the script, which reads like a Pokemon reject, confusing gibberish about the earth's spirit that does not do justice to the beliefs of environmentalists or pantheists.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether the vision of the future it portrays could possibly become reality, and about how the discoveries of important scientists have been considered heretical. They may want to talk about the motivation of the General. Was he just acting out of rage at the loss of his family?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sci-fi and animation

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