Thursday, July 27, 2006

Movie Review: Final Fantasy VII – Advent Children

I’ve been a fan of the Final Fantasy series since its day on the NES. Hell, you could say that I’ve grown up with it.

I was really excited a few years ago when Square announced the all CGI movie, “Final Fantasy – The Spirits Within.” I’d been a fan of the CGI work coming out of Square’s game studios for years, often bragging to people who were in awe of stuff like “Toy Story” that there was even more amazing stuff out there, they just hadn’t seen it since it was in video games. Finally, I thought, everyone would be able to see what Square has been hiding away.

Boy was I disappointed.

Sure, the movie looked nice, but it sucked otherwise. This wasn’t Final Fantasy; this was Crappy Sci-Fi CGI Movie. There were no wizard, no swords, to magic, no cyber punk motifs, there was just bland voice acting with an even blander story. Sure, Final Fantasy can get a little bizarre at times, but for the most part the stories are second to the action, which was also missing.

Fortunately, Advent Children didn’t follow the same mistakes that Spirits Within did. THIS was a Final Fantasy movie. THIS had swords. THIS had magic. THIS had cyber punk. THIS had action for crying out loud, oh the action!

Now, on the flip side, if you’re not a fan of Final Fantasy VII, you’re probably not going to dig this movie for more than the action sequences. There is no background on the characters, or explanation as to why they are doing what they are doing. It’s a continuation of the Final Fantasy VII story, and it expects the viewer to be familiar with it. IS this a mistake? No, not really, when you look at the intended audience for this film. It was created for Japan, and only for Japan, where it was displayed theatrically. Square knew that there was a US audience for it, but they would have to settle for a DVD, which is fine with me as long as I got to see it.

Basically, the storyline picks up two years after Final Fantasy. Cloud and Tifa are “living together,” although there doesn’t appear to be any type of relationship happening. Cloud is still hung up on Aerith, and apparently still hasn’t moved on. Although Sephiroth and the threat of Jenova is gone, there is an affliction hitting people called geostigma, which is related to some sort of infection caused by the Jenova cells infused into some of the citizens of Midgar. Then, these three guys show up with gray hair looking for their “mother,” which is the remnants of Jenova that the head of Shinra Corp. still has hidden away somewhere. Turns out these guys are part of the same cloning process that created Sephiroth, which is why they look so much like him, and want their own “reunion” with mother to bring Sephiroth back to this world.

Blah blah blah, there is a TON of action. I mean, this movie is jam packed with some great fights. Square really showed what can be done with photo realistic CGI. They combined traditional motion capture animation with frame by frame animation to put together some amazingly choreographed sequences. They also managed to work in a lot of Clouds signature moves as well, but in a clever way, so you really need to look for them to catch them all.

The sound was good. I watched the Japanese audio since the American dub voices sucked. The music was cool as well, especially how they worked in different versions of the regular battle, boss battle, and special boss battle music in when the action was going down. It was a nice touch that any fan should pick up on.

As I mentioned before, the story was fine for fans, but leaves a lot to be desired for non fans. Don’t expect any type of real set up or explanation if you’ve not played the game. Just enjoy it for great looks and great battles.

All of the characters are worked in, each with their own looks. Heck, even Bahamut shows up for a big battle, which was really neat.

All in all, I’d give the action and visuals a 10 but the over all rating a 7.5. There is just too much lacking in the story department for it to be higher than that.



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