What it’s about: The world is overrun with mysterious spirit creatures called “phantoms”. These ethereal creatures cannot be communicated with, and they kill with the merest touch. All human survivors are gathered in a handful of megacities, trying to live on as best they can. Against this backdrop, Aki Ross, a scientist specialising in the phantoms, has made it her quest to find out as much as she can about the creatures in the hopes of finding a way towards peaceful coexistence, though others are searching for a more…final solution.
Why you should watch it: The animation quality was utterly groundbreaking at the time of its debut, being the first completely CGI movie to attempt photorealistic characters. While things have moved on in the CGI-film department, it’s still pretty damned impressive. It’s a summer blockbuster and it shines through in every aspect – from the soundtrack to the action set-pieces to the cast assembled for the English dubbing. The latter is particularly impressive, with an all-star roster including Steve Buscemi, Donald Sutherland, Ving Rhames, and Alec Baldwin.
Caveats: You don’t need any familiarity with the Final Fantasy franchise to enjoy the film. In fact, it’s probably better if you don’t, as you won’t have any expectations going in. The story itself is pretty standard fare. It’s told well enough, but it’s not anything you haven’t seen before.
Themes: Environmentalism. Tolerance versus xenophobia.