THERE is a dream-like quality to Final Fantasy which lends it a surreal mood and any worries that real life actors and actresses might be harbouring that the digital world of animation is about to usurp them can be - for the time being at least - filed away in the Just Concerned box.
True Sakaguchi has thrown his all into this movie-length tale of the world under threat based on hugely-popular video game of the same name, but after the initial jolt of realising that the screen images are all just that - images - then the plot gradually descends into tedium despite the riproaring action.
It is the year 2065 and the earth is overrun by aliens - well actually they are spectres but it takes a while for this to seep through up there on the celluloid but we in the posh seats all knew from the start - who are it seems determined to wipe out mankind. The usual sci-fi guff.
Only Dr Aki Ross, a weirdly seductive character featuring the voice of Chinese American actress Ming-na, can save the world along with her lover and mentor Captain Gray Edwards, a drone based on presumably Ben Affleck and boasting all his often one dimensional acting attributes, with the voice of Alec Balwin.
Oh, there's also the good doctor Sid, a bald egg-head who has the solution and explanation for the wonderfully scatty ghosts and demons who swoop and swirl in a terror campaign against the humans. Donald Sutherland provides the voice-over but sounds like a moose braying for his breakfast most of the time; and certainly not someone you'd reckon has a handle on eternity and the land of the living dead.
Ming-na's character is strangely compulsive viewing as though she is about to spring to life again after being embalmed. In fact, eureka! that's it. The whole cast resemble a bunch of stiffs coated in embalming fluid making a mad dash for the reality of life.
The movie has involved a team of 200 animation experts from twenty two different countries and really is lush and rich in texture and mood. Its just a tad disturbing; that sort of static, wooden yet oddly flexible robotic image which might just herald a nightmare future for our grandchildren if computers get a grip of the world.
Members of the animation crew have produced a string of spectacular films such as Godzilla, Titanic and Toy Story and have come up with a whole new brand of software for this effort. It is truly commendable.
But the movie's pre-occupation with environmental and spiritual concerns makes Final Fantasy a closer cousin to the legions of Japanese animation productions such as Princess Monoke rather than the brash video game adaptations such as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Mortal Kombat.
Yet it will attract the anoraks in droves and has a subtle, compelling nature which can suck one into the fantasy world, almost half believing it's not a dream.