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"Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within"

Directed by Hironobu Sakaguchi and Moto Sakakibara.
Written by Al Reinert and Jeff Vintar.
Starring the voices of Ming-Na, Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames and Steve Buscemi.
Release Year:  2001
Review Date:  7/15/01 


Since my family goes to sleep a little early for my tastes, I went out and caught another movie on Friday night.  I should have just read a book or watched "SportsCenter", but NO...I had to go and see the worst film of the year, "Final Fantasy:  The Spirits Within."  Save for an intriguing teaser for next summer's (!) "Spider-Man", starring Tobey Maguire, this film is the pure definition of Hard Vice:

1.  The story for "FF" has nothing...sorry, NOTHING, to do with the video games that the title is based on.  The "FF" video games are role-playing games that usually have you playing a character that recruits two or three other characters and you go around killing things, collecting power-ups and magic spells, and trying to solve a large quest involving saving someone.  The "FF" movie?  A doctor named Aki (voice of Ming-Na) has some bad dreams, so she goes and collects "spirits" of dead things...or was it living things?...all over a decimated planet Earth.  Then, I realized that before the movie's timeline began, Aki had already collected six of the eight spirits that she needed.  Oh, great!  Not only is the storyline all wrong, but the one I get to see is almost over!  So, what are they going to do for an hour and 45 minutes...

2.  Even with the coolest looking animation I have ever seen, it wears off on you after five minutes.  And, when it does wear off, boy, does this movie stink.  It was like the writers decided to just dial it in on this film, figuring that us dumb Americans would be amazed by the pretty pictures and not realize what a piece of shit story there was on hand.  I am sick of the Japanese playing us for chumps.  I know bad when I see it, and further, I know BORING when I see it...and, "Final Fantasy" made me almost walk out of the theater not once, but FOUR times.  I am sure that I heard snoring during my near-capacity showing.  (Should I even mention that there is a black character in the film, and that he is the lead white male character's best buddy, and that he dies a horrible death, and that when he does die, his white partner yells out, NOOO!, then kills the alien that killed his buddy?  I didn't think so.  You'll see it coming anyway.)

3.  The talent of the voices on this film is unbelievable.  Steve Buscemi, Ving Rhames, James Woods, Alec Baldwin and Donald Sutherland all lent their voices to this film.  Did they read the fucking script?  I doubt fact, I would imagine that the filmmakers came to them with some of the initial animations and said, "Whaddya think?"  Trickery!

4.  The ending of this movie...ugh, the ending of this movie!  Some of you will undoubtedly think that I am lying to you and still see this film (if you haven't already), but I would love to hear your thoughts on this horrible ending.

This film is further proof that big budgets don't always mean great scripts.  In fact, this film cost $137 million to make.  Not one penny of that was spent on an interesting story or any kind of character development...and we, the common man, lose again!  I want to reiterate to you all that this is the worst summer of films I have ever lived through.

Rating:  Hard Vice


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09