“Why do punk-rock boys go out with New Wave girls?” asked Great Plains 15 years ago, and movies such as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within pose a similar question: Why would sci-fi-adventure girls put up with video-game boys? The answer, of course, is that these sleek, smart, dynamic women are entirely cyber and thus infinitely malleable, even when impersonated by flesh-blood-and-collagen creatures such as Angelina Jolie. The lithe cyberbabe at the center of director Hironobu Sakaguchi’s Final Fantasy is Dr. Aki Ross, a computer-generated tomboy with a New Age side: She’s trying to find the eight spirits that will revive Gaia—that’s Earth to the less enlightened—after it’s been infested by toxic “phantoms” from another world. Inspired by a video game, this Japanese-American production pushes computer animation to new heights of verisimilitude, but its plot is anything but cutting-edge. Aki (the voice of Mulan’s Ming-Na) and her mentor, Dr. Sid (Donald Sutherland), are sure they know how to save the world, but their theories are met with the skepticism of the military, from Aki’s hunky sometime beau Capt. Edwards (Alec Baldwin) to arrogant, obsessed Gen. Hein (James Woods), who, naturally, is more dangerous than the alien threat. The outsiders are translucent red-orange beasties that combine aspects of jellyfish, ghosts, and viruses. (One undeveloped plot line suggests that the aliens are analogous to cancer.) Some of the action sequences are reasonably involving, but most of the point-and-shoot boom-boom is as tiresome as in other video-game-derived flicks. That leaves Aki—the plucky heroine of traditional Japanimation, here brought almost to life—as the principal attraction. For some moviegoers, watching the computer-generated wind ruffle her cyberhair may summon fantasies far more compelling than any devised by Sakaguchi’s video-game-boy F/X team. —Mark Jenkins