Final Fantasy Movie

   Square's recent RPGs have been increasingly cinematic. Final Fantasy VII and VIII feature CG of a sort unmatched in console gaming. Some gamers have gone as far as to declare Square's CG's artists the world's greatest. Square has taken the compliments to heart and has set out to prove the supporters correct and silence the naysayers once and for all. No longer content with the honor of "greatest in-game CG graphics," Square is aiming for a much loftier goal: "greatest CG graphics." Period.

Hi, I'm Charles.
I don't exist!

   In development at Square Honolulu, dozens of the world's top graphic artists are slaving away on SGI's hottest machines, rendering what may very well be the future of entertainment. Square, in fact, is the world's largest consumer of SGI machines, outclassing even effects shop Industrial Light and Magic. Over a year was spent in research and development before work on the film itself began. Entire floors are filled with artists -- each with the greatest rendering weapon known to man, a Silicon Graphics Octane. Even so, rendering is proceeding at the horrendously slow rate of only a few seconds a day. The end result, however, should be well worth it.

   The film's director is Square's own Hironobu Sakaguchi. Fans know him as the director of all the Final Fantasy games. The script is being written by Sakaguchi, Al Reinert (Apollo 13) and Jeff Vintar, whose unproduced adaptation of Frederick Pohl's Man Plus is considered one of Hollywood's most intelligent unproduced science fiction screenplays. What, you say? Two Americans? Yes! In an interesting twist of fate, the movie is being designed with a U.S. release in mind. Top English voice talent will be hired, and the characters' lips will be rendered to the English text. Japanese fans will have to settle for a traditional dub. Square's army of artists should be up to the formidable task ahead; aritsts include former Disney animators, an art director from the "5th Element," and the CG director responsible for the the intro sequences to Namco's Tekken 2 and Soul Blade.

   Plot-wise, very little is known, although a few rumors have been leaked. The main character is tenatively named Grey, who looks to be modeled after Brad Pitt. While the resemblance is unintentional, the designers apparently want to create a character with his appeal. The movie does NOT feature any characters from previous Final Fantasy games. Like Final Fantasy VII and VIII, there are many science fiction elements. However, there are no characters, storyline, magic, or any other references from other Final Fantasy games -- past, present, or future. The story is completely original. The story is not set in an alternative universe and it is set on Earth. The animator describes sequences of "Grey riding hover bikes and firing laser guns in a densely populated city area." Another source reports "over fifty human characters, demons, hell on earth (and in space) scenes, and all set in the year 2065 ... it's Toy Story meets Akira."

   The title has been picked up by Sony Pictures Entertainment (a.k.a. Columbia Tristar) for worldwide distribution. From this, several conclusions can be drawn. First, the Final Fantasy Movie will not have some limited-run art-house release. This is a massive (and expensive) undertaking for Square, and the movie will receive the wide distribution a film of its quality deserves. Second, Sony Pictures Entertainment picked up the distribution rights for 2001. All you Square / Sony conspiracy theorists, your Zapruder tape has arrived. Dreamcast development looks increasingly unlikely, as Square and Sony get cozier than ever before.

You can see it in his eyes.

   Can Square successfully expand into the world of cinema? Kindly put, most videogame movies have been critical and commercial failures. But Final Fantasy games are different; unlike Doom or Super Mario Bros., where little backstory exists to be mined, Final Fantasy games have a rich story telling tradition. Epic quests, love triangles, fantastic evils, personal struggles; these things are as well suited to the large screen as the small. Add the the most jaw-droppingly amazing CG graphics in the history of cinema to this solid foundation, and it looks like Square has another sure-fire hit. The golden touch of Final Fantasy may soon transcend the games themselves.

Feature by Andrew Vestal.
Final Fantasy Movie
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