Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
In the future, your skin never sags. Your clothes never stain or crumple, your eyes and teeth never look dull, and you never have a bad hair day. That is what life is like, at least, for Dr Aki Ross, the entirely computer-generated female lead of a new film, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, made by the Japanese video-game giant Square. We have had talking playthings in Toy Story and velociraptors in Jurassic Park, but Final Fantasy is the first feature film to populate the cinema screen entirely with digital human beings in a digital landscape.
Ross’s cute snub nose and perfect hazel irises have been designed and built on computers, and 60,000 individual strands of hair have been implanted in her scalp and independently animated. Her love interest, Captain Gray Edwards, has the absurdly prognathous jaw of Dan Dare, but at least the computer boffins have also lovingly modelled his enlarged pores and permanent five o’clock shadow.
Final Fantasy is not a completely photorealistic vision — its cast still look like characters in a high-class video game. But the lengths to which someone has gone to create virtual actors has raised fears of a dystopian future when human actors are no longer required. Computer people, Tom Hanks bleated recently, might put real actors out of work. Indeed. Stuff the latest actors’ strike, moguls five years hence might say, we don’t need those overpaid mannequins: we can make some right here on this beige box. We don’t need to feed them, and they’ll be completely docile. And look, this one’s more realistic than Tom Cruise anyway. Continued →