Saturday, September 26, 2009

Monster Crap Inductee: Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)

Monster Crap Inductee: Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
A Movie That Made A Studio Bankrupt

There are always going to be bad movies and the same studios will continue to throw this crap on the wall and hope it sticks. I mean, why shouldn’t they? Most of these studios have money to burn. But there are some movies that were such a waste of money, that they cause an entire studio to go bankrupt. That was the case concerning this movie and the studio that made it.

The year was 2001 and in that year, the Final Fantasy series had hit its highest point. Final Fantasy VII had become the highest selling game in Sony’s video game history. That includes Playstation, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, and Playstation Portable. And that game was released in 1997….that long ago. I mean, it is still a better selling game than games that graphically are better than it like God of War and all of the Grand Theft Auto series. I don’t know about you, but that is pretty damn impressive. Final Fantasy VIII didn’t do as well as VII, but it did pretty well. Final Fantasy IX, a game that sucked, did pretty well as well. So it shouldn’t have come to a surprise from anyone that the folks at Square Soft (the people who made the series) announced that they were going to come out with a movie. The movie would be called Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Hell, Final Fantasy VII was so well done storyline wise that it felt like a damn movie

Just Try Calling Sephiroth A Woman To His Face And See How Long You Survive After That Statement

Now I know that I have inducted movies created from video games into Monster Crap. But this movie was made by the same damn people who made the video game series. With that much going for it, it should have done very well.

But it wouldn’t be inducted here if it didn’t do well now would it.

In fact, it was absolutely awful. So awful in fact that Square Pictures, the new company created by Square Soft to do movies went bankrupt. Now the only time I can remember a movie doing so badly that the studio went bankrupt was Cutaway Island, a movie staring Geena Davis that was considered one of the worst movies of all time. In fact, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within held the infamous record of being the biggest animated box office bomb until Disney decided to trump that with a movie called Treasure Planet. Also because of this movie, Square Soft, the company that at its zenith, was forced to merge with Enix to become Square Enix.

But enough about the detail, let’s review this movie and lord knows this will be very painful for me to induct because I love the Final Fantasy series.
We start this movie off with a dream segment where Dr. Aki Ross is in the middle of a deserted world and we are seeing two alien species face each other.

Dr. Aki Ross is played by Ming-Na, who will be most famously known for providing the voice of Mulan in that Disney movie and she was Chun Li in that dreadful Street Fighter movie. To get some thoughts, I asked a local friend of Mulan’s, Shang.

After this sequence, we see that she has recorded the dream as she has a spaceship in outer space. She decides to land in New York City or what is left of it. I know everyone is wondering why the straight city name and not the creative name like Midgar or Galbadia. I guess the filmmakers of this movie wanted the movie to seem real. I guess the word “fantasy” means nothing.

And just when I say that, she is met by troopers who fight a bunch of phantoms with guns. Now, I know this is supposed to be animated and all, but if you really want this movie to be real, how in the hell do phantoms die by gunfire. Last I checked, bullets just go through them.
Basically, Dr. Ross finds some kind of spirit from a plant. They escape from near death from the phantoms. Dr. Ross is then scolded by the commanding officer, who happens to be her ex-boyfriend, Captain Gray Edwards.

Captain Gray Edwards is played by Alec Baldwin. You know, I gave Martin Sheen a lot of crap for not minding the fact that he is taking a crap on something I like, but I want to say now that he pales in comparison to Alec Baldwin. I mean, the man has crapped on two popular concepts (Thomas & The Magic Railroad and The Cat In The Hat) and obviously crapped out in this film as well. We also learn from the rest of the crew. There is a black guy named Sgt. Ryan Whitaker, who is played by Ving Rhames. Now I respect Ving Rhames and give the man a lot of credit, so it is going to be painful for me because I am going to have to rip this guy for something. We have the mechanic Officer Neil Fleming, who is played by Steve Buscemi. He is a very big actor who has always played the creepy guy and in 2006, will be doing voice work again as a rat.

Sounds Like It Fits Him
We have a female Officer Jane Proudfoot, who is Peri Gilpin, who will be famously known as playing Roz on Fraiser. After all this crappy debate being exercised by Dr. Ross and Capt. Edwards, they get back to the newer version of New York City, which is surrounded in a dome. They have to be cleaned and checked for any phantoms and Capt. Edwards obviously has one in him. This would be a good movie if Alec Baldwin was killed here. But unfortunately for us, they were able to save him and when it is time for Dr. Ross to get inspected, she is cleared by her superior, Dr. Cid.

For those of you who have not played the games, Cid is a name that has been used in every Final Fantasy game and Cid is always an older gentlemen. At least they kept one tradition from the video game series in this movie. Dr. Cid in this movie is played by Donald Sutherland. Donald….I can’t say anything bad about the guy because he has been a very consistent actor. It’s just too bad that he couldn’t save this movie. Donald Sutherland is also the father of Kiefer Sutherland, who is the star on the hit TV drama 24 and almost married Julia Roberts.

Before a council meeting, we see another dream sequence where Dr. Ross is seeing rockets flying in the air.

During a council meeting, we meet a person who wants to use the Zeus Cannon to destroy the phantoms. He reveals that the phantoms are coming from a meteor and the Zeus Cannon will destroy it. This person who is pushing for the Zeus Cannon is General Hein, who is played by James Woods. Once again, I can’t really say anything terrible about him as well unless I want to go to hell.

He Was Hades After All

The main opponent to the Zeus Cannon is Dr. Cid, who says that if the Zeus Cannon is fired, the whole planet will die as well. He explains this with some whole theory of Gaia (The Earth Goddess) and the earth. His arguments are falling on deaf ears until his underling, Dr. Ross reveals that she has a phantom inside her and has been able to keep it at bay thanks to the spirits. She says they need two more spirits to get an additional wavelength that will cancel out the phantoms and kill them. The council decides to help Dr. Ross find the next spirit, which becomes unfortunate for General Hein. During a meeting, General Hein tells Captain Edwards that he and his men will be assisting Dr. Ross in finding the next spirit. But that isn’t what General Hein only wants. He explains his actions with this nice piece of dialogue.

General Hein: Report any aberrant behavior in Dr. Ross to the Major immediately
Captain Edwards: "Aberrant behavior," sir?
General Hein: The woman carries an alien infection. It may be clouding her judgment. They may be manipulating her for their very own purposes.
Captain Edwards: Is the General suggesting Dr. Ross is a spy?
General Hein: The General is wondering why he's explaining himself to a Captain.

That line makes me laugh because as you know, I don’t like Alec Baldwin and think he is overrated as an actor. We once again see the third dream sequence where Dr. Ross is watching both sides firing at each other and the rockets are firing. The dream ends when they have all just stopped and stare. We find that the next spirit is in Tucson, Arizona or what’s left of it.

They see a bald eagle in the sky and the army soldiers think that it is the next spirit. However, it is obviously not from her scanners. We also know that General Hein has sent two of his underlings to watch over Captain Edwards and make sure that he does his job. They find the next spirit inside the energy pack of a dead soldier. They are attacked by phantoms and some soldiers die.

It is revealed that the phantom inside Dr. Ross is finally having its way with her and the phantom is attracting other phantoms. The survivors escape and the two men sent to watch over Capt. Edwards are about to arrest Dr. Ross for being possessed. Captain Edwards fights this and lets the two soldiers die at the hands of other phantoms. They try to get the next spirit into her and to keep her alive; they have Captain Edwards go under with her as a spiritual guardian. In her dreams, it is revealed that the two alien races are destroyed and their home planet is destroyed. They save her, but General Hein has already received word of the Captain’s disobedience.

The General and his men see Dr. Ross’ dreams with the phantoms and think that she is being influenced by the phantoms. They of course fail to see the whole dream and miss the part where the aliens have all been destroyed. The General has them all arrested and heads to the control room of the city. He lets the shields down which he believes will allow the phantoms into a contained space. In the jail, Dr. Ross tells everyone that the phantoms are not evil; they are in fact just ghosts. Their home world was destroyed and the meteor on earth is what is left of their planet. Of course when General Hein allows several phantoms in, he soon finds out that the phantoms can go through walls. Of course, they have gone through walls in the beginning of this damn movie so I am just as confused as you are. Also once again, the bullets being able to kill them instead of doing nothing makes me laugh.

Because the phantoms are in the city, the jail power is down. Dr. Ross, Capt. Edwards, and the others are all able to escape. They find a jeep and are able to drive with it. It crashes and a pipe impales Sgt. Whitaker. This gives us our next really bad dialogue.

Fleming: Speak to me, Sarge.
Sgt. Whitaker: Ouch.

Here we will see the problem with Ving Rhames. You see, there is a reason that Ving Rhames doesn’t die in too many movies and that reason is…..

Ving Rhames Is Not A Man To Be Messed With

They leave him at his request and before taking off, Fleming and Proudfoot are also by the phantoms. Dr. Ross, Dr. Cid, and Capt. Edwards are the only ones of those who were able to escape. Oh, General Hein found an escape pod and the council also escaped from the city. They ask for an explanation and General Hein lies about the phantoms being able to build immunity towards the shields when it is really the fact that he let them in. The council tells him that he is allowed to use the Zeus Cannon.

Dr. Ross finds the final spirit and sees that it is in a phantom near the meteor that created the whole mess. The Zeus Cannon is fired and the final spirit is killed. The meteor is not destroyed and the Zeus Cannon overloads which blows up, killing General Hein. Dr. Ross and Captain Edwards go inside the crater and find that the Gaia spirit really does exist.

They find that the final spirit is still alive and they capture it. In this final scene, Captain Edwards sacrifices himself, allowing all eight spirits to form a wavelength and kills the phantoms. The movie is thus over

So now that I have seen this bad movie, it makes me feel disappointed. The Final Fantasy series was meant as a well orchestrated escape from reality. In fact, the only reality that existed the whole video game series was the character’s personalities. In this movie, they tried to make the world look more realistic and forgot the whole point of a fantasy. There were no swords and in Final Fantasy, you always had one badass with a sword. The characters in this movie were completely one dimensional in personality while anyone could have told you from the series that the characters had three dimensions to all of their personalities. The fact is the filmmakers needed to fill this movie with a standard time so they wouldn’t have to do two separate movies. The problem with that is, the Final Fantasy video games take several discs to complete. For the Final Fantasy people to do this at the time, they needed to weed out many of the scenes they deemed useless in the long haul. While those scenes may be useless in the long haul, they are there to give the characters personality. It had little to no connection with the video game series and seemed like the Godzilla movie of 1998 in that it was only Final Fantasy in name alone.

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