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Most will be impressed, some disappointed, but it's worth the price of a ticket for all...
I've waited for this one for quite a while, as have most of Square's fans. There is a lot riding on this film, including the future direction of CG in movies, the proud heritage of a name brand, and the chance to release a worthwhile movie during a string of bad summer flicks. So, does Final Fantasy live up to it's hype?
First, the bad. No, it has nothing to do with the games other than name, but then the majority of the storylines of the games had nothing to do with each other, either. The plot is not necessarily original, with marauding aliens nearly vanquishing humanity while a desperate band of outsiders hold the key to winning (tired sci-fi, to be sure) and even the animation has it's faults, mostly with the mouth movements and a few emotions lacking, as the eyes and lips, and even hair had detail but no-one's cheeks or throats moved, giving the characters a bit of a puppetry feel at times. The movement of humans in CG is still not quite fluid, but getting much better. Also, the movie slows down considerably during the last twenty or thirty minutes, which is perhaps necessary for the plot, but the change in pace was notable, even with the awe that the movie's end was aspiring too.
But enough nit-picking.
The Good. The imagery in this movie is startling, imaginative, complex, even awesome at times. It's amazing that while the machines, vehicles, and mechanics in the movie are so realistic and detailed, so too are the organic forms such as the alien presence (sometimes seemingly more fluidly animated than the humans!) and the incredible landscapes. It is obvious how much imagination went in to so many aspects of this movie. The soundtrack, while not exceptional, is very complimentary and captures the dark feel with the fast action and triumphant climaxes. The characters were distinct, like-able, and voiced very well (even if the digital mouths don't quite match up most of the time). The emotional scenes, while certainly not perfect and a bit awkward, should be given grand credit for achieving the level they do convey. If you let yourself go, it's not impossible to be entranced by all that this movie actually manages to pull off. If nothing else, then the effects alone are worth seeing, if the somewhat hokey spiritual elements of the plot turn you off. (If you consider the Force to be hokey, don't bother.)
The Surprising. Well, I was a bit put off by the simplistic way the characters would look at each situation and then spell it out to the audience, though there is more to the plot than casual sci-fi fare. Because of this, the dialogue was a bit goofy at times, but at least it usually fit the characters. But every good thing you've heard about the quality of the CG work in this movie is true- it really is a site to behold, if nothing else than for the effects. As I mentioned earlier, if you consider how much this movie is trying to do, it's amazing that it pulled off everything nearly as well as it does.
So, I think that most will be pleased, some will critique it heavily on the negatives and not be as impressed, but the bottom line is that it is definitely worth seeing. Quality work in most areas, even story and screenplay in my opinion (though that's certainly the most debatable point.) I left the theater without being disappointed, something I cannot say for the majority of cinema fare.
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