That I was going to see this movie was a given. The thought of not seeing this movie never crossed my mind. My agenda for the week looked roughly like this: 1. See Final Fantasy. 2. Do some other stuff.
I've been mulling over my opinion of the movie for several hours now, and I've only come to one real conclusion: I do not want to go see it again any time soon, which means that my roommate's on his own, since I ditched him to see it with some co-workers tonight.
But that I don't want to see it again any time soon is not the damning statement that it might sound like. I just don't want to see it again because the story is pretty generic, and the pacing drags like crazy. Many many scenes seemed to be shouting to me. They were shouting "Hey! Look at these pretty pictures! Here, I'll give you a good long time to really appreciate them. Go on, don't be shy. You can stare."
"Get on with it!" I found myself frequently wanting to shout. "Yes, I can see that you make pretty pictures. Can you make a pretty story?"
Crafting this story must have been a nightmare for the filmmakers -- they were simultaneously trying to create a movie that could be marketed and received equally well in both the US and Japan. I'm not Japanese, so I can't comment on their success over there... But in the US, I think that audiences will be able to put two and 2 together and find parallels to all that "environmentalist stuff." And considering the narrow line the movie makers were walking, I think the story was "good enough," though I recommend in the future they choose one side of the pacific or the other and run with it.
While the story itself was good enough, the telling of that story was, much like A.I., poorly paced. And the editing was just choppy, especially near the end of the movie. And choppy editing, combined with a predictable (if disappointing) ending and the feeling that time was slowing to a crawl just tends to make me cranky. A good enough story, but not-so good telling of the story. Okay, fair enough.
But who cares about that? It's all about the graphics. Trust me. If the story starts to make your left eye twitch (a sure sign of a bad story if there ever was one), you can just shut off your thinking part and drool at what Square dared to do. You know the characters aren't real, and they never pretend to be real, but as long as you don't let that get in the way, they're more than good enough; If you just check your disbelief at the door you'll do fine. I did find it amusing that the best looking characters were the more minor characters. The two main characters just felt far less real than some of those more minor characters did, and the face of the villain was a ridiculous caricature of pure sinisterness. There were a few other animations that felt out of place, like the random steam dials near the end of the movie, but I tried not to let things like that distract me. The visuals were great, and worth the price of admission alone, in my opinion.
Two other quick points: The story sure reminded me an awful lot of Final Fantasy IX at the broadest level, and it was completely ridiculous how the villain died. Now that I think about it, the villain was completely ridiculous in general, and probably the most stupid and inept villain I've ever seen. In fact I think I'd claim: Worst villain, ever. Wow, what a moron. At least Kuja (in FFIX) had some depth.
Wait, I'm not making myself clear. The more I think about the villain, the more angry I get at how ridiculous he was. But I can't actually explain why publically without giving away the end of the movie. Seriously, the movie would have been written without that character, and it would have been better for it. He was just there because movies need bad guys, and so here's the guy you should hate. He's the one with the sinister face and the black leather coat wanting to shoot a giant laser at the earth, so it's easy to tell which one he is. Only I'm hating him for all the wrong reasons.
Anyway, see it, stare wide at pretty pictures. I give it a 3.5/5, and if I were forced to use whole numbers I'd round up to a 4.