Recently, I watched Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, and had to reassess my views. What made it so bad?
It’s not particularly groundbreaking. Sure, the graphics were impressive during its time. Obviously, this isn’t enough for audiences to consider a movie good. Especially not Western audiences. America set and broke the rules of movie making. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within? It plays it safe. Sure, by Final Fantasy standards, it’s ambitious. By movie standards, it’s like a direct-to-DVD title.
Still, that’s a far cry from being a bad movie. It was greenlit by Sony and Columbia Pictures for a global release. And it wasn’t too terrible next to the other Final Fantasy movies. Take a look at Rotten Tomatoes. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children has a 33% rating. Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV has a 13% rating. But Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within? It currently holds 45% after it’s 2001 release. Obviously, it’s not great. But’s it’s not too bad either. It’s like a mediocre movie.
But even for its pretty graphics, it’s simple to understand the story. Plus it had a big budget name, yet it still it flopped. Why? I came to this conclusion: Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within flopped because it couldn’t find an audience, not because it was a particularly bad movie.
What do I mean by it couldn’t find an audience? Well, completely computer animated movies, especially with a PG-13 rating, has a type of stigma. It’s for teens unless adults can connect with something. Well, with what? Besides the environmental theme, the story doesn’t particularly have an edge to it. The actors are great but don’t have enough to work with. The story seems dull. Should we blame it on Sakaguchi for making an unemotional movie?
I’ll say it again, graphics aren’t everything. Final Fantasy needs to take note.
It’s also not a fantasy movie. Fantasy usually doesn’t have a connection to our world. Science Fiction does and contains references to updated scientific technology. This movie takes place in a post-apocalyptic Earth, 70 years after the movie’s release. The fantasy aspect comes into play with the “phantoms”. But since they’re aliens, we don’t know if they can’t exist in our universe. So are they supernatural? We call them spirits, but they may be plasma. But the movie doesn’t hint at this possibility, so all we can do is grimace at the main plot device. Already, audiences don’t know what to think of this.
But lastly, fans didn’t appreciate it. If everyone who bought Final Fantasy VII bought a movie ticket, the movie would have been profitable. Obviously, this wasn’t the case, because Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within didn’t feel like a Final Fantasy. Where’s the Chocobo? Why aren’t our characters using magic? Why is Cid’s name “Sid”?
This wasn’t a movie for fans and first-timers. This was a generic movie that appealed to no one. This is a current trend in Final Fantasy, a trend Square Enix can’t seem to learn from. They wish to branch out to many different audiences while neglecting their core fanbase. Instead, if they made the best Final Fantasy movie they possibly could, word of mouth will do the advertising. Why did non-comic book readers watch The Dark Knight and The Avengers? Because they were good movies.
Well, Square Enix caught on and stuck to the Final Fantasy universe. Yet, the movies are still not good. Why is that? Well, because they sacrificed storytelling and movie conventions for graphics. With every new movie, the graphics become phenomena. But the movie making quality takes a dip. To this day, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within remains the best movie from a conventional standpoint, but still mediocre movie.
So what do you think? Can you change my mind?