Running Time: 101 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Format: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: English, Japanese
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Thai, Mandarin, Cantonese
Region: 1
MSRP: $26.96

Own It!
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2005)

Okay, this is going to be kind of difficult. You see, I know the Final Fantasy games. I love the Final Fantasy games. The last time Square Enix made a CGI movie with Final Fantasy in the title, the results were... unfortunate. Pretty, but unfortunate. I (along with a lot of people) considered Square's feature film division to be dead. What we didn't figure on were the games themselves, which have become increasingly cinematic, and possess a vocal and dedicated fanbase as large as any successful movie franchise.

Final Fantasy VII was a watermark in the series - the first on what was then a next-generation console, the first to employ 3-D modeling, and backed up with a huge multimedia ad campaign... well, it was the reason I finally bought a Playstation.

None of the games had a sequel until the tenth iteration (X), which proved so popular that Final Fantasy X-2 was created; but all this while, VII held a very special place in our little black gaming hearts. We came to love these characters, and we wanted to see more. It just took a while for more to happen .

Now, the difficulty I mentioned earlier is in the synopsis stage; trying to give a concise summary of the story of one of these things is hard enough, and since the events of VII lead into Advent Children - well, just hold on, and hope for the best.

Two years after the world survived (barely) the ultimate attack of the mad super-being Sephiroth, humanity is still picking up the pieces. A new problem has reared its head: a disease called Geostigma is sweeping through the younger portion of the population. Make that two problems: three powerful young men who seem to be younger versions of Sephiroth are trying to track down the one remaining viable piece of Jenova, an alien being whose harvested cells were the source of Sephiroth's power... and his madness. The one hope would seem to be Cloud, the hero of VII, but he's way too wrapped up in self-pity, unable to forgive himself for his failure to prevent the murder of the gentle healer Aerith at the hands of Sephiroth.

Of that other Final Fantasy movie, I said "...It may stand more on its own as a technical achievement rather than as entertainment"; The balance between those two things is much more even this time. Though the drive to be photorealistic this time was not as extreme as in the first movie, it's still pretty damned impressive. There are often hundreds of people onscreen, the fight scenes are incredibly dizzying (and would be impossible to attain with physical filmmaking) and the fabric and hair look awesome.

Perhaps this may give you a sort of yardstick to measure the amount of fanboy I bring into this: act three opens with, finally, a reunion of all the characters from the game, which produced a very big grin on my face; and yes, there were tears at the end. The game didn't give a whole lot of closure, and the movie does. Now whether anyone who has never picked up a control pad will feel the same way - sadly, I have to say, is unlikely. Then again, there are any number of movies out there that I realize I am not the audience for this flick, and that's okay. Here's the other side of that coin. A movie for me and my kind, but not for others. I can live with that.

I've praised Robert Rodriguez before for presenting his films as "A Digital File", and Advent Children really should also be presented as such. This is straight-from-the-processor pristine. The English translation often seems to be recorded at too low a level, but that's probably the actors using their "intense" voices. The translation can be maddeningly iffy, too, with lip-synching apparently trumping original intent. Ah well, this is why the original Japanese is available with English subs.

First of all, if you are not a gamer, Disc One also contains a Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII Story Digest, which recaps the story of the game in 20 minutes. This is also historically valuable, as it includes the original CG cutscenes from the game, many of which were re-created using 21st century technology in the movie. Talk about a stark example of how far we've come...

Disc Two contains the remainder of the extras:

  • The Distance: The Making of Advent Children is an interview-driven featurette on whys and wherefores of the project. Don't expect any hard technical details - this is all artsy stuff we're talking, here.
  • Venice Film Festival Footage is a trimmed-down 20 minute version of the movie (well, without giving away the end) that was presented at that selfsame festival.
  • Sneak Peek of Upcoming Final Fantasy Games is exactly that, though a couple of these look more like anime trailers.
  • Deleted Scenes are more along the lines of extra camera angles and an excised line here and there.
  • and Trailers shows the cagey way Square Enix pimped this thing at game shows and conventions.

Fanboy? Definitely. Pencil me in for all those games.

Dr. Freex, 5/03/2006