Monday Movie Retrospective

July 11, 2016


Do you ever have high hopes that something is going to be great, but then it just fizzles? That is the entire story behind this week’s movie, “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within“.


This was going to be the movie that brought regular computer-generated actors into regular movies alongside living, breathing human actors. Characters generated entirely in a computer, but difficult to distinguish from real live human actors. Marlon Brando specifically got his likeness digitized so that he could continue to “appear” in film, long after he died. Sadly, I have not seen a Marlon Brando movie since his death in 2004. If “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” had been a more impressive showing of digital human acting, maybe we might have posthumous Marlon Brando movies.

If they had waiting a few more years for digital entertainment technology to advance, if they had spent some more time developing their own technology, if they worked on the animation for 8 years instead of just 4, we might be enjoying a very digital movie age. Instead, the actors in this Final Fantasy movie were seen as rather lifeless and puppet-like. You see, cheeks and throats and all those little things that add to a person’s appearance as alive… Well, those things did not move in this movie, leaving the digital actors looking like computer game avatars. Reasonably good-looking representations of what they are supposed to be, yet still dead. Needing to be nudged and cajoled to their next acting mark.

I don’t know. I can look pretty lifeless when I’m speaking after a tiring day. However, people expect a certain vitality and charisma from leading actors, even in times of duress. Unfortunately, these digital actors were not lively and alive-enough to be the charismatic leads needed to lead Hollywood into the digital actor domain.

And now we have the post-American movie age. Movies are no longer being targeted towards Americans. Now the the Russian and Chinese markets have exceeded the American market, movies are now being made as simple cross-culture, tired affairs, appealing to the low-common-denominator of less-sophisticated, more easily humored audiences. However, that is a separate rant for another day.

In the meantime, we must soldier on, without any new Marlon Brando movies.