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Friday, 3 August, 2001, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
Fantasy loses the plot
Dr Aki Ross (voice by Ming-na Wen)
The cast are all computer-generated human beings
By the BBC's Caroline Westbrook

The track record of video game to film adaptations has been chequered to say the least, with the bad (Super Mario Bros, Streetfighter) far outweighing the good (the trashy but fun Mortal Kombat).

And now, just weeks after Tomb Raider added itself to the library of the profoundly average, comes the screen version of this complicated multi-part console favourite.

This one claims to be a bit different, with a cast consisting entirely of computer generated 'realistic' looking humans and CGI graphics which attempt to take this rapidly evolving form of animation to new levels.

The results are certainly evident on screen, but with such important elements as storyline and decent dialogue left by the wayside in the pursuit of stunning visuals, this is seriously dull stuff.

General Hein (voice by James Woods)
Bad guy General Hein uses militant methods
The plot, such as it is, sees our intrepid heroine Dr Aki Ross (voiced by Ming-Na Wen), defending what is left of the world from rampaging alien phantoms.

At the same time, she must seek a cure for a deadly extra-terrestrial virus which has invaded her body.

Her team consists of standard-issue characters; the square-jawed captain (Alec Baldwin), the weasely, wise-cracking sidekick (Steve Buscemi) and the gun-toting token female (Peri Gilpin).

They mount a force against the invaders while searching for the vital elements which will cure Ross of her infection.

Meanwhile, bad guy General Hein (James Woods) is trying to use more militant methods to rid the planet of its unwelcome guests.

And here is where it all falls apart.

Gray Edwards (voice by Alec Baldwin)
Only a handful of characters could pass as humans
Dr Ross's hunt for her much-needed cure is mildly engaging.

But the film loses its way when teamed with a ridiculous sub-plot about trying to kill rampaging ghosts (who are, for all intents and purposes, dead already).

For all the hard work that has gone into this, it is hard to admire the admittedly awesome graphics when the underlying story is so unconvincing.

Despite the characters' much-hyped realism, only a handful actually look as though they could pass for humans.

So computer-generated actors aren't about to take over from the real thing just yet.

Add to that an overly serious script which seems to think it has something terribly important to say but merely winds up hackneyed, and the end result is curiously reminiscent of last year's Titan AE.

That portentous, eco-friendly 2-D animated feature was every bit as sincere and unexciting as this.

All of which once again proves that animation needs to be about more than pretty pictures to succeed.

  • Final Fantasy is on general release from 3 August

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