Reviewer's Rating 5 out of 5   User Rating 4 out of 5
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within DVD (2001)

While "Final Fantasy" may not have put in a fantasy performance at the box office, there's no denying the technical brilliance behind the film, which is now reflected in this two-disc DVD release.

TECHNICAL FEATURES

Picture As the movie was created digitally, it can be directly transferred to DVD with no loss of picture quality. On that basis, there are few discs you'll load in your player that will offer such high levels of detail and a sharpness of image that impress as much as this one.

Sound While there are piles of DVDs out there that offer 'boom' for your subwoofer, there aren't many that use the .1 channel as effectively as this disc. The opening of the film is a prime example, with 'ripples' of bass tearing through the floor, while distant sounds of thunder start to wrap around the rear speakers as music builds in the front speakers.

SPECIAL FEATURES

Audio Commentaries (disc one) There are three audio commentaries on offer here. The first is from the Japanese production team (with English subtitles). There's not much they don't seem to find funny despite the often technical level of their group chat. Data levels, software used, how characters were rendered... it's a techie's dream, but probably quite dull for anyone else.

The second commentary is with the US production team. Again technical terminology is the language of choice, but the story development gets a look in, too, and they point out some of the 'money shots': little scenes that wowed the financiers for this digital movie. As for the third commentary, it's an isolated 2.0 music score with the odd interjection from composer Elliot Goldenthal. He doesn't have much to say but, after the last two commentaries, the periods of silence are indeed golden.

Boards/Blasts (disc one) Now this is a special feature of genuine scale. Here you can watch 82 minutes of the movie in stripped down layers including conceptual storyboards, stills, and unfinished animation. It comes with an optional production commentary to explain what you're watching, plus you can select to have subtitled 'factoids' that explain the devices used by the characters.

Additional Disc One Extras Trailers for the movie in 5.1 sound (plus a trailer for "Metropolis"), plus digital lovely 'Aki', in various stages of undress in an animated gallery of poses.

Making of Documentary (disc two) It might just appear like a 30-minute 'making of' documentary at first glance, but there are 17 featurettes that 'link out' of the main feature that add another hour to the running time. These cover a variety of technical issues about building both the characters and the world they inhabit.

Character Files (disc two) The seven main characters are covered here with mini-featurettes that offer conceptual drawings, footage of the voice-over artists and creators at work.

Final Fantasy Shuffler (disc two) Here you can re-edit the conference room scene from a selection of 12 optional angles.

The Gray Project (disc two) Before they could make the movie, they had to see how the technology would work. This featurette shows you that footage.

Joke Outtakes (disc two) By the time you get to this feature, you'll appreciate the silly humour of these partially finished shots!

Alternate Opening Sequence (disc two) It sure is pretty, but this swirly opening sequence is not as ominous as the one chosen for the finished film.

Additional Disc Two Extras Just when you already thought you'd covered everything there was to know about the movie, here's a pile of featurettes showing footage for matte art, compositing builds, yet more 'boards and blasts', a music video, and "Aki's Dream" mini-movie. Plus there's also a look at the technical feasibility of three of the vehicles used in the film.

DVD ROM Content (disc two) Extract the by now molten DVD from your player, stick it in your DVD ROM drive, and you can take a virtual tour of Square Pictures, read the screenplay, select yourself a new screensaver, and more.

Region: 2
Chapters: 28
Ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Extra Features: Scene selection, animated menus, and multiple languages and subtitles.

This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-S57 DVD player.

End Credits

Director: Hironobu Sakaguchi

Writer: Hironobu Sakaguchi, Al Reinart, Jeff Vintar

Stars: Alec Baldwin, Ming-Na Wen, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, Peri Gilpin, Donald Sutherland, James Woods

Genre: Animation, Science Fiction

Length: 105 minutes

Cinema: 3 August 2001

DVD: 21 January 2002

Country: Japan/USA