Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within DVD Review
PictureThe anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer is flawless, but then what do you expect from a film that benefits from a digital-to-digital transfer? Created entirely in the digital domain, there are no imperfections in the image: no artefacting, no colour bleed, no grain, and best of all, no edge-enhancement. Every frame of this computer animated movie will astound you with its detail and the three-dimensional quality of the imagery on display. A true reference quality transfer.
SoundCuriously enough, while the film's DD 5.1 audio mix is capable of excellent surround effects (as witnessed during Aki's dream sequences and the occasional battle scenes), vast swathes of the film offer up little more than odd ambient effects. This isn't meant as a major criticism, as the mix is a superb representation of the film's original track, it just never opens up in the way you expect it to. Solid but, unlike the animation, hardly outstanding.
ExtrasIn the same way, the film pushes back boundaries for computer generated animated feature films, Columbia TriStar's Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within DVD pushes the interactive nature of DVD features into new areas. The first of the two disc set includes the film itself, two feature-length audio commentaries The first is a subtitled Japanese track featuring co-director Moto Sakakibara, sequence supervisor Hiroyuki Hayashida, sets & props lead artist Tatsuro Maruyama and the Phantom supervisor Takoo Noguchi. The second features animation director Andy Lee, editor Chris Capp and staging director Tani Kunitake. There's also an isolated score with commentary by composer Elliot Goldenthal, two theatrical trailers, a montage of images from the Maxim Aki Ross 'photo shoot' and Boards/Blasts which enables you to watch the film as a combination of sketches, storyboards, rough computer designs and final animation, this is accompanied by a production team commentary and the chance to access subtitle factoids during the feature.
On Disc Two the main extra is a 30 minute production featurette, albeit one with a difference. During the course of the featurette you are able to access 17 further video segments, (that add up to another 60 minutes worth of material) many have optional commentary tracks from the relevant members of the production team. In addition, you also get seven animated/narrated character profiles, a study of three of the vehicles used in the movie, the Final Fantasy Shuffler which gives users the chance to re-edit one of the scenes from the film, a five minute look at the animation process, More Boards/Blasts which includes sequences left out of the similarly presented cut featured on Disc One, a look at the use of trailers in marketing the film, a featurette about using computers to create backgrounds, seven joke outtakes which are presented in rough animation form, an alternate opening sequence, a compilation of Aki's dream sequences re-edited into a mini-feature, the screenplay, a demonstration of how lighting effects where achieved in the film, extensive DVD-ROM material including weblinks and more.
In addition to all of this, it's also worth pointing out that both discs feature a new intro animation by character Aki Ross' lead animator Ray Sato, and that the second disc also contains a fairly easy to find Easter Egg in the form of a spoof of Michael Jackson's Thriller video. A fantastic package.
VerdictWhatever your thoughts on the film, this is a remarkable DVD package and a must-have for animation fans.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99
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