Final Fantasy VIII - Animation Collection (Japan 1999)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 10/21/00

Okay, so it's not actually a movie, but dammit it should be! This is a collection of ALL of the animation from SquareSoft's hit video game "Final Fantasy VIII". Since I don't have the mental and physical fortitude to play the game, watching the video is FAR more satisfying. The animation in this game features some of the most dramatic and cinematically breathtaking digital filmmaking I've ever seen, and the rich digital characters and environments are unparalleled. Quite simply, this is the most amazing animation I've EVER seen. (even compared to "The Phantom Menace" (1999) and "Toy Story 2" (1999) which came out the same year) However, there are a couple of disappointments in the video. It's a compilation, so there's little to no continuity and the music breaks abruptly between scenes. Also, several of the clips are from actual gameplay, which uses real-time character rendering. The resulting lack of detail has the tendency to spoil the look and impact of those scenes. Additionally, the first ten minutes of the video are in left channel only mono sound, which is really irritating. And finally, it doesn't feature the spectacular music video for Faye Wong's theme song, "Eyes On Me." I was seriously bummed by this, since the advertising claimed it was included. One final nuisance is that the only format I could find this on was VCD and my DVD player flat-out refused to play it, so I was forced to watch it on my computer instead. That, along with the cheap and tacky packaging just further enforces my suspicions that this is actually black market merchandise...