Directed by: Tetsuya Nomura
Starring: Takahiro Sakurai, Ayumi Ito, Shotaro Morikubo
Picking right back up where the beloved Squaresoft RPG left off, hero Cloud Strife has decided to essentially hang up his sword in favor of a life in seclusion. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, seeing as how a mysterious terminal illness known as Geostigma has been perpetually tormenting both him and the remainder of Midgar’s inhabitants. To make matters even worse, a gang of three overly powerful, miscreant supervillains have shown up in search of their “mother” to reclaim what is rightfully theirs. What ensues is an epic battle between the forces of good and evil for the well-being of those Cloud loves the most.
Visually stunning. Those are the first two words that come to mind when feasting my eyes on the most beautiful CGI action extravaganza I’ve ever seen. That, and it’s about time Square has finally taken the time to produce an animated feature worthy of bearing the Final Fantasy name, putting to shame 2001’s The Spirits Within. Sadly, the two films’ weaker suits tend to mimic each other in the form of an often convoluted, uninteresting story that relies a little too heavily on Square’s unsurpassed technical prowess. Taking my being a huge fan of the Final Fantasy series since its inception into consideration, I was pleased to an extent with what Advent Children had to offer, even if the latter half of the film is strictly dedicated to sequence after sequence of sci-fi action violence that defies every known law of physics. Sadly, it’s easy to see that those unfamiliar with the series, despite an informative introduction to the film will most likely find it hard to enjoy and devoid of any substance worthy of a feature length film.
My aforementioned admiration aside, I also had a few minor qualms with Advent Children, the first being the complete lack of any actual character development outside of the events that took place during the game, further suggesting that those who’ve not played it will have a hard time appreciating it. This would be fine to an extent, if director Tetsuya Nomura didn’t then try to introduce every single character featured within the game to the viewer via an overly elaborate fight sequence showcasing a summoned otherworldly creature… towards the very end of the film. Such a move on his (Nomura’s) part will effectively put you, myself included, into a perpetual “What the hell is going on?” state for the remainder of Advent Children, all the way up until the final fight sequence between Cloud and the villain to end all villains: Sephiroth, the presence of whom sometimes baffles even me given a overwhelmingly dull plot. But again, the CGI-infused action that takes place during these scenes is something to admire.
Furthermore, I hate English-dubbed anything. Dubbing a foreign film in English is like asking an important question in a letter; it doesn’t make sense. So, with this in mind, I quickly switched the film back over to its native Japanese and proceeded to watch it with English subtitles. Such a choice proved to be easier on the ears, but with some completely uninspired dialogue, it was only a minor improvement, and needless to say, the efforts put forth by the Japanese cast members are more admirable than their American counterparts, but ultimately get lost in barrage after barrage of loud noises.
So to conclude, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is a film strictly dedicated to the pacification of fanboys displeased with Square’s last cinematic outing. The forgettable characters, piss-poor dialogue, and sometimes uninspired plot will most likely have casual viewers shaking their heads in disgust, but the truly remarkable animation sometimes compensates for such flaws. However, if you are indeed part of that aforementioned group of fanboys, you’ll look past the film’s obvious flaws as a stand-alone piece of cinema and appreciate the beauty of it all, which is what kept me from completely hating it all the way through to its satisfying conclusion.