Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within



First computer animated movie to "star" actors.
  • Review Date: May 20, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 2001
  • Running Time: 106 minutes

What parents need to know


Scary monsters, many killed; major characters in peril.

Not applicable

Brief mild language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:July 11, 2001
DVD release date:October 23, 2001
Cast:Alec Baldwin, Donald Sutherland, Ming-Na, Steve Buscemi
Director:Hironobu Sakaguchi
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Genre:Science Fiction
Run time:106 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sci-fi action violence

This review of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was written by

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byEnclave August 17, 2012

Impressive animation and uniquely driven story.

I personally really enjoyed this movie, but was disappointed that it didn't do well at the box office. This movie I feel is under-rated. The problem with this movie is that it may have been too spiritual for american audiences, but I thought it included a enough of a scientific point of view that it made it interesting. The story itself is pretty good and should keep most science fiction fans interested. The movie itself features some scenes of violence, the overall theme of the movie is pretty mature and premature minds may not get some of the concepts. Ghosts or "phantoms" travel around the barren world of Earth and humans survive, hiding in barrier cities that keep the phantoms from consuming their "bio energy" nicknamed "souls". The violence in the movie is not graphic, but may be disturbing as many civilians are slaughtered by phantoms and there are some conflicts between the human factions. There is one kissing scene in the movie that lasts for a prolonged moment, but is still very mild. Other than that there is only very minor suggestive sexual themes, one character jokes about a machine causing him sterility as he expresses his want to have kids some day. This movie isn't for everyone, but keep an open mind and you might enjoy it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Parent of a 6 and 8 year old Written byYBNormal January 7, 2009
Adult Written byForknose April 9, 2008

Final Fantasy Meets the Silver Screen

It is Final Fantasy! It is movie! Alright so Cloud or Yuna aren't in this one but it is great. You don't control anyone, but it is almost as fun as playing anyway. FFVII, FFX, FFII, and FFIII are better tho.


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