Review by neothe0ne
"Great action scenes, but plot presented poorly"
Squaresoft's famous franchise, Final Fantasy, has been through its fair share of ups and downs. The arguable peak of the fame was with the game Final Fantasy VII, where more realistic characters and a fully 3D environment helped propel the game to huge success. Square Enix has deemed Final Fantasy VII so successful that they have created their second CGI movie as a sequel to the game FFVII, and the result is much better than their first CGI movie, The Spirits Within.
The story of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children takes place two years after the end of the game Final Fantasy VII. First you see Red XIII and two of his cubs jumping up onto a cliff overlooking the new ceiling-less Midgar (the same cinema you saw in FFVII), and they roar to the Final Fantasy VII Opening Theme. Then the movie jumps to a scene of Reno of the Turks in a helicopter flying in snowy mountains. The helicopter descends into the mist and you hear gunfire. A minute later, the helicopter flies out. You are then given a brief recap on the end of Final Fantasy VII: The way Aeris was praying for the savior of the Earth from Sephiroth, how Sephiroth murdered her, how Midgar soaked up Mako to fire the Junon Mako Canon, and how Cloud Strife and his buddies Barret, Tifa, Yuffie, Cait Sith, Red XIII, Cid, and Vincent destroy Sephiroth, who had summoned Meteor using the Black Materia and planned to destroy the Earth. With the earth saved, they all lived happily ever after... except that a strange disease called Geostigma has spread and is infecting people all over the world, Cloud and Denzel, who appears to be his and Tifa's son, among the infected. (You don't know why it only affects certain people and not others.) You will now see that that automobiles and cell phones are a huge rage in the new city of Midgar, and that motorcycles are very important to Cloud and his new enemy, Kadaj and his cronies, all of whom have silver hair. The scene shifts from Midgar to Cloud in the wilderness, where he is apparently trying to seclude himself from society because of his infection of Geostigma on his left arm, and you see him ambushed by Kadaj, who shoots Cloud in the forehead, only leaving a bit of blood and no bullethole. Always knew Cloud was a stubborn-headed angsty guy. :) The recap on Final Fantasy VII's end and these first three scenes of the movie happen in just over ten minutes, which should give you an idea of how rushed the plot is. As the plot moves along, or rather, as the action and fighting scenes move the plot along, you'll basically see the same thing over and over again: only one place outside of Midgar is ever shown, and after a few lengthy conversations among important characters, the rest of the movie is almost purely action and fighting. Shockingly, you never see any of Cloud's buddies other than Tifa until more than halfway through the movie, which is unexcusable. To people unfamiliar with the game Final Fantasy VII, they wouldn't know anything about these superheroes who show up in the nick of time. Advent Children's purpose is to tie up the Final Fantasy VII story, but it only introduces new plotholes and possible enemies at the story's end. With little variety to the story, no magic used in battles by the good guys, the repeated importance of the Lifestream, only two important settings, no Chocobos, and a predictable final enemy, the story of Advent Children is presented rather shallowly and lacks the finer details that make Final Fantasy what it is.
The character design and models could use some work. The characters in Advent Children look very different from how they did in the game Final Fantasy VII, and even the FMV's in the game differ greatly from Advent Children's characters. To start off, Cloud looks like he's stoned, and his face is too pale. It's understandable that Cloud is sick, but that doesn't explain why other sick people don't look as pathetic as Cloud does. Cloud looked much better in the PlayStation. Barret's arm-gun looks much cooler than anything immaginable from the game, but Barret also looks like a muscular Hispanic instead of a Black. Cid looks like he's a player in his blue tight shirt and with his hair the way dried the way it is. Vincent's pistol looks utterly frail and useless, and he is presented more as a fast-flying ninja than as a mysterious ranger. The stuffed Mog of Cait Sith is gone, so the cat riding on it has taken to Red XIII. It's a marvel that he can hang onto Red XIII in his amazing jumps and leaps. You probably won't recognize Marlene when you see her until you hear her name, and Tifa's face is also wider than it appeared in the game. It's understandable that PlayStation models will be changed when plugged into a real movie, and the higher detail of the clothing, facial expressions, and other textures is nice, but most of the changes seem to have been made with complete disregard to how the characters were supposed to be like in the PlayStation. The battle scenes were done spectacularily well, however, with somewhat realistic physics (hey, people fly and all, but you get the drift), but the action was too generic. You either had a motorcycle battle where Cloud used his sword to deflect bullets, or you had a fist and claw battle, or you had a sword to sword battle. Magic and materia has next-to no presence in this movie except in the hands of Kadaj. Some of the action scenes are lame, especially the leap frog effect near the end of the movie, as well as the surprise shockers to many calm scenes, leaiving so much more Square Enix could have done to improve the storyline, action, and presentation of this movie.
The music in Advent Children is basically just remixed and/or resynthesized Final Fantasy VII music. The movie starts with the same Opening Theme from the game, with instrumentation higher quality than the PlayStation synth. The Black Mages remix of J-E-N-O-V-A is in the movie, as well as a new Black Mages-esque remix of One-Winged Angel with new vocals. A piano version of Fighting and Tifa's Theme are also present, as well as the Church in the Slums, the Turks' Theme, and the Final Fantasy theme from the original games. Indeed, the only complaint one could have about the music of Advent Children is the inappropriately placed piano battle themes and the lack of new composition. The only new music in the movie is one song sounding like a remix of Who Am I? and an entirely new metal/techno battle composition.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is a movie based on a game made for the fans. Without playing the game first or reading an extensive FAQ on the FFVII storyline, you don't stand a chance of understanding the plot of this movie. Make sure that you understand the movie is more action than matter, even if the storyline is existent. Despite its mediocre presentation, however, for fans and players of FFVII, Advent Children is an excellent CGI film sequel to one of the most spectacular, if horribly overrated, RPG's of all time.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 09/16/05
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