Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
PG-13
Entertainment: +2 1/2
Acceptability: -2

This eagerly awaited computer-game-spawned, computer-animated film displays a giant step forward in computer-rendered graphics. In some scenes, the animated characters take on an almost-real look and fine details, such as individual hairs moving, add to the effect. However, while much detail was spent on the look of the production, the story is more sketchy. In the future, a meteor falls to earth carrying alien life forms, called phantoms, that cant be seen unaided. However, Doctor Sid (voiced by Donald Sutherland) discovers that the aliens have an energy form that can be viewed through bio-energy filters and destroyed with bio-energy weapons. But to eradicate the aliens means finding eight life-energy frequencies that will match and cancel out the alien energy frequencies. Dr. Aki Ross (Ming-Na of TVs ER) does the footwork aided by Captain Gray Edwards (Alec Baldwin). But its a race against time before General Hein (James Woods) unleashes a military assault on the meteor. Computer fans will line up for the special effects, but others may be disappointed with the brief story treatment.

Despite the fantastic advance in computer imaging, the characters still project an artificial quality. One viewer commented that there was no life in the eyes. So real actors can still breathe easy. The energy aliens take on eerie and repulsive forms that could scare young viewers. While a few crude words and a couple of obscenities are included, the biggest problem is the focus on “life-energies” or spirits. There is also a conflict between the pragmatic military approach and a more science/faith approach to solving the alien invasion. It’s interesting that the scientist is portrayed as a man of faith. Partially motivated by revenge for killing his family, the General rejects any ideas but military destruction. However, Dr. Sid seeks a more eco-friendly solution, worried that a military attack may further damage the earth without achieving victory. He not only refers to the living energy in all life, but also refers to the planet’s life energy as Gaia. Gaia is the name for the Earth Goddess or Mother Nature in some New Age and pagan religions. He refers to the energy spirit returning to Gaia when a body dies. But he also refers to the alien planet‘s energy as Gaia. Several scenes show spirit forms leaving human bodies as the aliens devour their energy. A Pantheistic belief, that all life has this “spirit” energy, is shown as the saving factor. Although faith and self-sacrifice are key to saving the earth, these elements are not viewed from a Christian interpretation.

Preview Reviewer: Paul Bicking
Distributor: Columbia Pictures, 10202 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232

Summary
Crude Language: Many (10) times - Mild 9, moderate 1
Obscene Language: Twice - s-word
Profanity: Few times - Regular 1 (J), exclamatory 2 (MG, OMG)
Violence: Many times Moderate (shooting aliens, pistol shooting, punches, explosions, aliens pull life energy from bodies)
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: None
Other: Pantheistic belief that living 'spirit' is in all life, reference to planet spirit 'Gaia' and alien Gaia, life engery pulled from bodies by aliens, science/faith versus military pragmatism, belief and self-sacrifice provide key
Running Time: 106 minutes
Intended Audience: Teens and adults

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