"Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within" wallows in New Age mysticism, offering an infantile interpretation of the Gaia myth that the planet is a living thing with a soul of its own.
Set in 2065, "Final Fantasy" traces the remnants of humanity as they battle an infestation of life-sucking phantoms that landed on Earth aboard a meteor 34 years earlier.
Leading the struggle is Aki Ross (voiced by Ming-Na), a beautiful scientist who's gradually succumbing to a phantom that has infected her body. Aki plays field agent for her mentor, Dr. Sid (Donald Sutherland), who dispatches her around the globe to gather a collection of "spirits" life forces that can counteract the phantoms and boot them off our little rock. Joining Aki and Sid are Capt. Gray Edwards (Alec Baldwin) and his alien-butt-kicking SWAT team (Peri Gilpin, Ving Rhames and Steve Buscemi).
Then there's Gen. Hein (James Woods), who favors a military solution: the Zeus Cannon, a giant space bazooka that Aki and Sid fear will harm Mama Gaia.
Director Hironobu Sakaguchi, who created the "Final Fantasy" games, manages the dark, moody atmosphere well enough. But the script by Al Reinert and Jeff Vintar bogs down in cryptic yammering and leaden techno-prattle.
The one great achievement of "Final Fantasy" is Aki. The detail in her features is remarkable, down to her eyelashes, pores and freckles. Yet so much effort is expended on Aki that other characters especially Hein, Edwards and his stormtroopers seem to have gotten shortchanged, coming across as amorphous mannequins.
The real problem is that there's simply not much story to "Final Fantasy." The filmmakers were content to make pretty pictures and pile on tree-hugging conceptions about the circle of life and vague notions of some collective Earth spirit.
What's the point of creating these pixel people if all they do is elicit yawns? Surely, we all can find real people in our lives to bore us without having to pay money to see fake ones do it in a movie theater.