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Tracking Final Fantasy

Tom Brook: Hello from New York. I’m Tom Brook and today’s program Final Fantasy a film with actors that look human but aren’t.

Final Fantasy, The Spirits Within, the full-length feature with a cast made up entirely of computer generated actors who look human has just arrived in American cinemas. It’s a sci-fi thriller set in the year 2065. The film’s life-like characters give a taste of what cinema in the future could become. I’ll be back with a brief review after this report from Richard McCaffery.

The star of Final Fantasy, a futuristic sci-fi thriller is a brilliant scientist called Dr. Aki Ross. The film’s opening dream sequence features a close up of her eye and reveals how authentically her human characteristics have been digitally rendered. Ming Na, the actress who supplies her voice, is startled by what has been achieved.

Aki Ross: We’re closing in on the life form.

Dr. Aki leads a mission in search of a solution to eradicate an alien infestation that has caused mass devastation on earth in the year 2065. Aki and her mentor Dr. Sid advocate a holistic approach using animals and plants while the nasty General Hein voiced by James Woods believes that blasting the aliens with a laser canon is the sure-fire way to get rid of the invaders.

There’s also a romantic sub-plot between Aki and the dashing Captain Gray Edwards who bears more than a passing resemblance to Ben Affleck. And his voice by actor Alec Baldwin who welcomes his digital alter-ego’s appearance.

Final Fantasy is the brain-child of director Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the popular Final Fantasy video game. He and his team of some 200 digital artists spent four years studying the tiny nuances of light, movement and human anatomy. Their meticulous attention to detail pushed the film’s cost to over $100 million. Final Fantasy’s pioneering animationly cast bill paid off and represents something of a milestone.

Richard McCaffery: The arrival of a big-budget film with a computer generated human cast has created anxiety among some actors. There’s a genuine concern that the new technology will be used to alter their performances and force production, although their screen personas can be reproduced digitally without their permission. Others fear that the synthetic actors could eventually make them redundant.

Although flesh-and-blood actors have no immediate cause for concern, the casting potential for digital actors is already being discussed. A sequel to Final Fantasy has yet to be decided. The film makers are agreed that though Aki Ross has made her debut, she could very well be starting in other movies.

Tom Brook: There’s no denying that the visual images in Final Fantasy are startling. The hyper-real human characters who emerge on screen are fascinating to watch.

I have to say that overall I was very impressed by the technology on display in Final Fantasy. The curvaceous beauty Aki Ross had human-looking eyes and body movements. Creating more than 60,000 hairs on her head was an astounding feat for acquiring special computer software. Interestingly these synthetic actors were imperfected with acne, freckles and pours to make them more realistic. None of the computer-generated characters were totally convincing as humans. Some were more authentic looking than others but they definitely suggest that 100 percent photo-realistic humans starring in movies may soon be possible.

Unfortunately the technology in Final Fantasy is far more inspiring than this story of humans with competing views on how best to combat an alien invasion. The dialogue was infused with an excess of New Age mysticism and the narrative dwells far too long on the intricacies of how the ghost-like alien forces operate. The characters try to navigate the audience through needlessly complicated scenarios with laborious expeditions of plot. So my advice, forget the story, just see Final Fantasy for its dazzling parade of computer generated humans.



feature: n. (电影)正片

authentically: ad. 确实地,真正地

render: v. 表演

eradicate: v. 根除

infestation: n.(害虫、盗贼等)群袭,横行

devastation: n. 毁坏

mentor: n. 导师,指导者

holistic: a. 整体的,全盘的

nasty: a. 令人厌恶的,凶相的

blasting: v. 爆炸,毁灭

dashing: a. 活跃的,浮华的

nuance: n. 细微差别

meticulous: a. 小心翼翼的

synthetic: a. 合成的,综合的

redundant: a. 多余的  

sequel: a. 结局

curvaceous: a. 曲线优美的 

acne n. 痤疮,粉刺

freckle: n. 雀斑,斑点

laborious: a. (工作)艰苦的,费力的

dazzling: a. 眼花缭乱的,耀眼的