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"Final Fantasy' is for sci-fi buffs

Movie: Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Rating: PG-13 (for science fiction-type violence)

Summary: In 2065, an invasion of planet Earth begins. Ghostly alien phantoms attack and wipe out everything. They infect and kill humans as they go. Dr. Aki Ross (voice of Ming-Na) is a young scientist who has been infected. She is using her body to research a way to rid the planet (and herself) of the phantoms. With the help of her mentor, Dr. Sid (voice of Donald Sutherland), and a crew of soldiers, she needs to find the seventh and eighth remaining spirits of the world to complete the cure that will conquer these alien creatures once and for all. General Hein (voice of James Woods) doubts that is the cure, though, and believes it is necessary to blow up the aliens with a large laser. Dr. Ross is racing against time to find those spirits before Hein destroys everything. It is the second video game-related movie of the summer, following Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

My view: I found this to be a very strange film. The plot has been done before _ the few remaining Earthlings try to save the world from destruction _ but this one was particularly eerie, and I think it would be scary to younger children. I didn't really enjoy it. Before I saw this flick, I played the video game Final Fantasy VIII to try to get a feel for the characters. It is an intricate role-playing game, and I didn't get very far, but I did play it long enough to realize that the movie was very different from the games. (There are a total of nine, with a 10th on the way.) I also asked a few kids coming out of the theater who were big fans of the video games, and they agreed there wasn't a lot to compare. They did enjoy the movie, though.

Favorite part: The animation was absolutely amazing! The human characters in the film were all computer-generated and were incredibly lifelike in appearance and movement. There were a few times that I even forgot I was watching an animated movie. The surround sound made me feel a lot of the action, and it seemed as if I was playing an enormous video game and all I needed was a controller in my hand to complete the effect.

Least favorite part: This was a very dark and creepy film. I actually think the way the characters were animated added to that. I'm not real big on science fiction, either, so that didn't make for a truly pleasurable experience.

Recommendations: This movie is for you if you're a big science fiction buff or a fan of the Final Fantasy games. Otherwise, don't waste your time.

Grade: C

Billy Norris, 13, will be in the eighth grade at Seminole Middle School, and is a former member of the Times X-Team.