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Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is a computer animated science fiction Film by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the kitten-stranglingly popular Final Fantasy series of role-playing games.

In the year 2065, Earth has been overrun by an alien infestation. The remaining humans live in "barrier cities" all over the world while trying to free their planet from the Phantoms, spectral alien beings which decimate everything in their path. Dr. Aki Ross, alongside her old mentor Dr. Sid, hopes to unlock the secret behind these Phantoms and find a way to destroy them without harming Earth — but General Hein has a plan of his own to annihilate the Phantoms with a huge space cannon, even at the risk of destroying the planet.

Although bearing the Final Fantasy title, this movie bears close-to-zero connection to the video game franchise of the same name. It was the first feature film to attempt photorealistic CGI characters (with less than desired results), and it was a huge Box Office Bomb (only bringing in slightly over $30 million in domestic box office earnings with a budget of around $140 million). Spirits Within almost single-handedly ended Square Pictures' existence as an independent entity; the film also nearly killed Squaresoft's merger negotiations with Enix (which almost balked at the idea of merging with Square after it had just lost a substantial sum of money). In an ironic twist, Spirits Within ended up being the most critically acclaimed movie based on a video game on Rotten Tomatoes.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Jane
  • After the End: At some point, the Leonid meteor crashed into Earth and dispensed its payload of Phantoms. Mankind has been reduced to a handful of cities around the world, and virtually no life exists outside these safe havens.
  • Alien Invasion: Subverted, as what the human authorities assume was a deliberate invasion is really just an accidental collision between a huge haunted chunk of the Phantoms' home planet and the Earth.
  • Almost Kiss: Aki and Gray in the elevator.
  • Animated Actors: Hironobu had intended for Aki to appear as a digital actress in a number of feature pictures. However, the failure of her debut film cut her career tragically short, though she did have a photo spread in Maxim magazine.
  • Apocalypse How: Earth has already suffered a Class 4 before the movie even starts, and the Leonid meteor is revealed to be the result of a Class X.
  • Armor Is Useless: The soldiers wear all of this heavy armor that does nothing to protect them.
  • Author Existence Failure: Some people might at least consider the film's use of incredibly realistic CGI to be the cornerstone for an Award Snub for Best Visual Effects. However, it couldn't have won any awards; Square Pictures was disbanded before the Oscars that year.
  • Big Applesauce: Most of the action takes place in and around New York City.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The first scene of the film: Aki has gotten herself surrounded by Phantoms, who look like they're about to move in for the kill, when we hear a transport flying overhead. Four objects are launched, firing some kind of gelatinous mass at the ground, softening the impact as they land. When the gel dissolves, we see it's the Deep Eyes, who take aim and fire immediately.
  • Big No
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Phantoms are gone, and it's vaguely implied life will return to the earth, but at the moment it's a barren, lifeless world.
    • Not to mention that only two named characters are still alive, and the population has been reduced to a fraction of its former size.
    • And they blew up their awesome space cannon!
  • Body Horror: The Phantom sealed within Aki, providing her empathic dreams about its world's ultimate fate.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Aki Ross.
  • Captain Obvious:

 Aki: We're surrounded!

Jane: No shit!

  • Collision Damage: Touching a Phantom is almost always fatal. Hell, most of the bigger Phantoms don't actively attack, but rack up a body count just by wandering around.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: When visible, the spirit energy is this. Phantoms (and anything else native to their planet) show up as red energy. Humans (and other creatures native to Earth) show up as blue energy. When the Phantom particle sealed with Aki's chestplate makes its Heel Face Turn, its energy color changes from red to blue to signify its new loyalty.
  • Combat Tentacles: Most Phantoms possess these; in particular, the Hand Cannons of the Phantom Soldiers had a variety of pipes and tubes which became their deadly tentacles upon their passing.
  • Cool Car: Aki's ATV, armed with gel missiles for soft landings and an anti-Phantom barrier generator.
  • Cool Ship: Aki's Black Boa.
  • Creator Killer: Killed Square Pictures, but didn't actually force Square's merger with Enix (infact, it delayed it).
  • Death Is Dramatic
  • Decontamination Chamber: The domed cities have decon protocols to keep out the phantoms that haunt the outside world. Though, for some reason people with enough clout get to skip them if they feel like it.
  • Doing in the Wizard: When you see people complaining about the fantastic elements of the series having been "stripped out" of this movie, what they actually mean is that they are disappointed that Grey and company aren't casting Watera and Meltdown on anything, and Omega Weapon isn't the Big Bad. If you pay attention, magic (of a form) is pretty much the only element of the Final Fantasy mythos that isn't left out, beyond lip service.
  • Domed Hometown: The City.
  • Dynamic Entry: Gotta give it to DEEP EYES --they know how to make an entrance.
  • Exact Time to Failure - It can apparently be determined down to the second how long an infected person has before it is too late to save them from the Phantom.
  • Explosive Overclocking: Safety controls exist for a reason...
    • "I know!"
  • Faceless Goons
  • Fan Service: Several images have been released in this manner. One has Aki wearing a tight black leather outfit, which exposes her navel, has a very seductive look on her face with her hair in the middle of a "wave" motion. Another has Aki posing in a bikini. And one has Grey posing completely shirtless.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water
  • General Ripper: General Hein, Played by James Woods.
  • Gotta Catch Em All: The Eight Spirits needed to create the anti-Phantom wave. (Although, to the writers' credit, several of these spirits have already been collected as the film opens - specifically five have already been collected and the sixth one is collected in the opening scene. This is a double Shout-Out to Final Fantasy I and Final Fantasy IV, which open in a similar way.)
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Gray Edwards sacrificed himself as a medium needed to physically transmit the completed spirit into the alien Gaia.
    • Ryan performed one in order to draw the Meta Phantom away from the Black Boa.
    • General Hein thought he was doing this when he overloaded the space cannon.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: Of the spoof variety, of course. Featured on the DVD.
  • Just in Time: Averted Aki manages to defeat the Phantom infecting Edwards with a whole 1.02 seconds to spare.
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: Sid to Aki: "And stay away from your friend, the captain. He saves your life, you save his life... I was young once too you know?"
  • Large Ham: James Woods plays the General Ripper. Expected hamminess ensues.
  • Kill Sat: The Zeus space cannon.
  • Kill'Em All: Only Dr. Aki and Dr. Sid manage to survive in the end.
  • The Lifestream: The planetary gaia force is pretty much directly modeled after the Final Fantasy VII concept.
  • Metaphysical Fuel: "Bio-etheric energy" which is produced by living things. The OVO-Packs used as batteries supposedly harvest this energy from bacteria, though the Eight Spirits (extracted from more complex lifeforms) have to be sacrificed for the Spirit Wave to work.
  • Mickey Mousing: The first appearance of the Zeus Cannon takes this to such (ear-shattering) extremes it borders on Narm.
  • Mook Lieutenant: Major Elliott.
  • Mr. Exposition: Dr. Sid.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: General Hein, realizing that he accidentally let the Phantoms into a major population center.
  • Mythology Gag: Several references to the game series, including a Chocobo embroidered on one of Aki's shirts, and some of the Phantoms are based on creatures and bosses from the series.
  • No Flow in CGI: Averted a little too well with Aki's hair.
  • Non-Action Girl: Aki isn't a Distressed Damsel, but she's clearly a non-combatant scientist who hangs around with four very competent soldiers.
  • Our Souls Are Different. And Our Ghosts Are Different, too.
  • Pillar of Light
  • Power Crystal: The common series tie-in element is worked into the movie as being part of the life-support device Aki has embedded in her chest.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The fifth spirit is collected from a dying child.
  • Preview Piggybacking: The soundtrack contained a preview for Final Fantasy X.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: They started haunting Aki at first, but then she shared them with Gray...
  • Putting on the Reich: The Soldiers under the leadership of General Hein.
  • Random Encounters: One of the few things seemingly taken from the source material, the movie comes up with an explanation of why monsters can just pop up out of the ground at any time.
  • Real Is Brown: A sad foretelling of what many video games would be.
  • Recurring Dreams: Dr. Aki Ross has these, which prove to be integral to the story.
  • Rescue Romance: Used, reciprocated, and helpfully lampshaded by Dr. Sid.
  • Revive Kills Zombie: The ultimate example, probably: the Phantom Gaia and all of its children are expelled at the end of the movie by a healing wave from the Eight Spirits.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The eagle. The suggestive placement of the Phantom tentacle that is cleansed by Aki's child. The fact that the Eighth Spirit is a brand new life brought into the epicenter of death.
  • Run or Die: The Phantoms, being limitless in number and instantly lethal to the touch, are this. Best displayed in the opening scene where the Deep Eyes rescue Aki from the ruined city.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Jane Proudfoot.
  • Scenery Porn: And plenty of Scenery Gorn.
  • Serkis Folk And how.
  • Shouting Shooter
  • Shout-Out: Two tiny, easily-missed references to Chocobos hidden in the background in the entire movie.
  • Soft Glass: Played straight.
  • Soul Cutting Blade: The phantoms.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Hein, quite literally so. Gee, you don't think overheating is a concern on a massive Kill Sat? Enjoy Hell, Jerkass.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Jane Proudfoot, the tough Space Marine, gets eaten, while Dr. Ross survives.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Suicidal tendencies + access to huge freaking space cannon = BAD THING.
  • Villainous BSOD: Which leads to the breakdown described above.
  • Virtual Celebrity: Aki was touted as the first CGI actress, and Square Pictures was hoping for a long and illustrious virtual career. Too bad about her debut movie...
  • Wave Motion Gun: The Zeus Cannon, once again.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: General Hein, though he takes to his task with such zeal he becomes a Knight Templar.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: One of the biggest publicity points about the film was Aki's strands of hair being individually animated — which resulted in Aki jerking her head around wildly whenever she talked (so the animators would have plenty of chances to show her hair moving). This led to several reviewers joking about Square creating "the world's first virtual George Clooney."
    • Even if the movie had been successful, this would have eventually been overtaken by the much more practical use of hair/fur/etc simulation programs such as used in Monsters, Inc.
  • The Worm Guy: Aki.
  • You Shall Not Pass
  • Zero-G Spot: Aki and Gray.