Final Fantasy VII: Advent Clarity
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is the film that should have been made instead of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (check the review). I can only imagine how nerve racking the decision to make Advent Children was after the impressive failure of The Spirits Within, which lost over a $100 million and basically took the wrecking ball to Square Pictures. The terror ran so deep in fact that Advent Children was never released in theaters but went directly to video. Now, for a film of this technical quality, that is clearly a shame.
I watched Advent Children with someone who was unfamiliar with the lore of the Final Fantasy video game franchise and they were lost as the film assumes the audience knows way too much about the Final Fantasy universe. This is likely an unfortunate overreaction to the fact that the previous attempt, The Spirits Within completely ignored the fan base and the lore of the Final Fantasy universe.
What we now have, with Advent Children, instead is a film that assumes every audience member is a hardcore, diehard fanatic that knows the lore inside and out and can appreciate who the character are and what they are all about. Let me try to be even clearer, epic battles occur and key characters from Final Fantasy VII literally drop out of the sky and I do mean literally. There is no background on most of the characters, no real character development and at times, I feel even fans, who have not played the game in years, will be LOST. This is an excellent point to consider as the Final Fantasy VII game upon which the movie is based hit the stores about a decade ago.
Just in case it isn’t obvious, the story is the problem. It is a couple of years after the end of the game and our hero Cloud is still heart broken over the death of his sweetheart at the end of the Final Fantasy VII game. We have some children dying of a strange disease which propels Cloud to seek a cure. Okay, that is a really, really simplified version of a pretty complex story that relies upon an excellent memory of the video game and its lore. There are impressive battles galore and this thing is flat out hypnotic. Seriously, you can’t take your eyes off it. If only it wasn’t so darn hard to follow, especially for the uninitiated or those with bad memories. We need a bit of a primary/refresher before diving in so deep.
But there is much to appreciate. The score adds greatly to the movie and there is some really solid voice acting by Steve Burton as Cloud Strife, Mena Suvari as Aerith and Rachael Leigh Cook as Tifa. If you are an animation fan or obviously a fan of the series, this is definitely worth a look but for everyone else, well, you may have trouble following the complex script that just doesn’t give you enough of the back story. In the end, however, this is a technical achievement and if you’re a true movie buff you should consider giving it a shot.
Visuals A+ (Another milestone in CG animation.)
Enjoyability Grade C
Home Theater/HD Factor A (This should be a great pick for flexing the muscle of a home theater in HD, if you are strictly focusing on using it just for the visuals as the visuals are hard to beat. If you like eye-candy don’t hesitate to get a next-gen DVD copy of the film. The visuals will blow you away.)
Overall Grade C+ (With a fuller, richer script, Advent Children could have been very rememberable.)