By George Rose
May 19, 2009
This is the problem with remakes; those who know the original rarely like the offspring, while those who are unaware of previous source material have a better chance of enjoying it. Don't get me wrong, my parents were scared just as much as I was. They just prefer the subtleties of classic black-and-white horror while my generation requires buckets of blood to know when something is scary (there is literally a tub of blood in this movie). Maybe if Martin Campbell had re-launched this franchise instead of allowing someone to do a remake it would have been more "critically acclaimed". Instead, we'll just have to settle for a killer cast and obscene gore, but at the end of the day the film fulfills. It may be a bit more bloody than you're used to but it will surely keep you awake for at least a night or two.
On a side-note, this film actually spawned a direct-to-HD-DVD sequel, Return to the House on Haunted Hill. Because of HD's superior abilities in formatting over Blu-Ray (before Blu-Ray won the war and stole all of HD's capabilities), the HD version of the film was a "choose your own ending" joyride. The movie itself is horrible but only because there was a version where you could make several selections throughout the film was it worth taking a look. It doesn't hold a candle to the remake (let alone the original) but will still have you cheering "DON'T GRAB THE MAP!" by the credits. It's a mistake you make only once, much like watching the film on any format other than HD-DVD (where it's possible to change the plot and save or kill the entire crew).
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)
Growing up I was just as big a video game geek as I was a horror fan. I was working at the AMC Hamilton 24 at the same time I was working at Game Stop, the two places I needed discounts the most since all I was saving my money for was DVDs and games. I was more a Nintendo follower than one of Playstation so I never got too into the Final Fantasy games (except for Final Fantasy X, which was great) but I was still fully aware of the release of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Computer animation was starting to boom and it shouldn't have come as much of a shock that a product of the Japanese would be so visually breathtaking. They sure know how to work a computer and special effects!
The plot doesn't follow any of the video games so previous knowledge of the material wasn't necessary. Why, then, did the film do so poorly at the box office? My guess is that it's due to the stigma that is attached to video game movies in general and other films that aren't video games that come off as though they are (I'm still looking at you Wolverine. My heart has never been so broken). Regardless of this perception, Final Fantasy was a stellar action movie with an amazing voice cast that deserved much more support. If the mindless Shrek movies can blow up with Michael Myers and Eddie Murphy, there should be no reason an animated movie with the likes of Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, Donald Sutherland and James Woods can't make at least $100 million. Unfortunately it didn't and no sequels were put in the works but that wouldn't stop me from using the film and many clips from it in Multi-Media class projects throughout my high school education.