Two years ago, the world was changed forever. The young Cloud Strife and his band of friends may have defeated Sephiroth and thwarted his plan to crash a giant meteor into the Earth, but this victory was not without great cost. The highly populated city of Midgar was nearly ripped apart in the conflict. Fortunately, many of the city's citizens were able to evacuate to safety, and in the years afterward have formed a new home called Edge.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children revolves around Cloud and Tifa as they try to make new lives for themselves, as well as for those around them, in this new city. Together they run a courier service, and tend to their mutual friend Barret’s adopted daughter Marlene and a young orphan by the name of Denzel. Denzel, Cloud, and scores of children are suffering from a mysterious new illness called "Geostigma."
The children of the city have one other threat looming over their heads—a trio of powerful men are kidnapping infected kids for unknown reasons. Cloud is determined to save these young ones, not only from Geostigma, but from the kidnappers as well. He has no idea, however, that these men share a link to his old enemy, Sephiroth, and Cloud’s quest to vanquish them will bring him back into conflict with the demons of his past. If there is any hope in conquering these threats, it lays within the bonds of friendship between Cloud and his allies who saved the world once, and now must do so again.
There aren't many video game players that I know of who haven't heard of Final Fantasy, and there aren't any RPG maniacs that I've met that haven't heard of Final Fantasy VII. The seventh installment of the never-ending Final Fantasy series is the most famous, and for a while I had no idea why, since I had never played the game. When the sequel, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children was announced, I had no idea what it was to be about, but since I was consumed with Final Fantasy X, X-2 and the Kingdom Hearts series, I decided to give the movie a shot.
VII: Advent Children takes place two years after the events of the game. It follows Cloud, who is still mourning the death of Aerith/Aeris and a trio of mini Sephiroth clone things as they try to obtain "Mother" and wreak destruction on the entire planet. Goody.
Well, I can say that anyone who has no idea about the events of Final Fantasy VII might be confused on the events and people that are mentioned, or it could be just my mother, but it's fairly easy to keep up with, so long as you're paying attention. While I did enjoy the story, it just seemed a little like your typical villian wants to destory the world because of some personal reason and hero, or slight anti-hero in Cloud's case, goes and takes down villian for some personal reason, so that took away from the inital enjoyment.
Score - 8
...Dude, this is Square Enix we're talking here. Square Enix the video game company. Do I have to say anything else? ....Fine, I will.
Okay, the last Final Fantasy movie, The Spirits Within, it was a flop, why? Well, I think that it looked too darn REAL, and when you're making something animated or with CGI (that's it right?), you don't want it to look real! The whole point is for it not to look real, if it's going too look real then you're better off using real actors. When AC came around they learned that you can't make them look too real. Now, while the characters can be mistaken for real people, they still hold that animated air around them (it's all in the hair). And that, my dears, makes for some awesome animation. Satisfied?
Score - 10
Well, the background music is well. I have the feeling that some of it are different versions of the soundtrack from the game, but again, I can't be sure. The piano compositions that play at certain points of the movie are simply beautiful, particularly the one, Cloud Smiles... I think that's it's name anyway. The remixed version of One-Winged Angel, is simply awesome, and it proves that you can mix a mad rock band with a orchestra. I wasn't fond of the ending song that plays during the credits (the one with the vocals), so I seldom watch the credits because of that...
I watched the dub version, and I loved it, I thought everyone's voices suited their apparent character... Kadaj sounding like a crazy boy dude, Cloud sounding like some... well, you get it, don't you? Though my mind doesn't agree with Aerith's voice...
Score - 9
Well, I'd say the characterization for this is fairly well, particularly Cloud, since because the end while he does show some acceptance with what's happened and what he's been told over and over again, he still seems like the same...stoic Cloud. Ahm. Yeah. I'll use Kadaj as an example again, he's a good character because you see him, and when he's in your mind you can't put him out of character, unless you're some rabid fangirl... But... yeah. Since this is a movie a character can't really grow in the allowed time period (I assume the movie takes place during maybe... three or four days?), so I can't say much... Unless we're talking Cloud, and we did already.
Score - 9
...I can say with a straight face that I enjoyed this movie. After all, you're not going to watch a movie that you don't like eighty times, now are you? I liked the actions scenes, and the animation the most... And particularly Reno... Okay, moving on.
Score - 9
All In All...
Yay! - Animation, baby! Those graphics can be synonymous with... eye candy. I think they are, too.
Nay! - Story needs to be indepth, and should maybe a little easier for the... non fans to follow... Eheheh...
I've never actually played FFVII. I know, blasphemy, right? But it's impossible to live on the Internet and not know these characters, and the animation looked so pretty, how could I resist?
(This review contains spoilers for the FFVII game, but not the actual movie.)
STORY - I recall looking up FFVII's backstory and plot once or twice on Wikipedia, but most of what I know is based on sniplets of casual conversation, fanart, random other things on the Internet, and the (bastardized) versions of the characters' stories in Kingdom Hearts. That said, Advent Children's story was mostly "Wait, what?" to me. Even for movies based off
other media, it's always best to have enough cohesiveness for it to make sense to newcomers and strangers to the original; to that end, Advent Children definitely failed. Explanations seemed abbreviated and choppy, and characters did little to clarify their intentions or motivations. At times, it seemed like they were trying too hard to connect it to the game, as if people didn't already know what it was based off of. (Seriously, how many flashbacks of dead Aerith do we need?) And despite that, I hear from the diehards that the movie's story connected poorly to the game anyway.
The sickness is poorly presented and explained; its cure similarly so. A good number of scenes also seemed like they were there for the sole purpose of fanservice, rather than actual story progression. The same could be said for the inclusion of many of the characters -- they served no real purpose, but I'm sure all the fanboys and girls in the audience were screaming their heads off, and that's what really seems to count with a movie like this.
CHARACTER - Poorly developed, all of them! If they were even developed at all! Cloud seemed like he spoke no more than five sentences for the entire movie, and none of them were particularly insightful or informative. Why was he doing anything he was doing? Got me. Because he felt guilty? Because he felt obliged? Because he had nothing else to do? Most of his support characters were either mindlessly cheerful or vacantly stoic; none seemed to have any real depth. The children, as well, did not seem to have any substance -- they were mostly objects to be protected or to be captured and mind-controlled. They weren't people at all.
Reno and Rude provided some humorous antics and were entertaining to watch, but beyond that, it's the same thing for the most part. I suppose they have the excuse of working for an organization for their motivation, but we never really see anything beyond that simple exterior. Kadaj and his brothers were just the same -- one-dimensional characters with tunnel vision. What exactly they were trying to accomplish always remained vague, and why exactly did Kadaj manifest as Sephiroth when he came into contact with Jenova? Well, shit, I don't know, but it's probably just to give Sephy some screentime because otherwise he's dead, right? The entire movie was built around that final fight. There is no other greater purpose or story. Advent Children is a 100% fanservice movie.
ARTSTYLE & ANIMATION - Now, this is where all my harsh words end, pretty much. The animation was beautiful. Beautiful! Stunning! The details in all the renders -- backgrounds, characters, clothing, weapons... everything was gorgeous, moved smoothly, and integrated well with its surroundings. The special effects were great, too. This movie is full of so much eye candy, your brain will explode. Even the simple things, like the inverted forest, or our five minute long scene of a cell phone falling through water -- all of it looked beautiful. I mean, come on, things have to look pretty darn amazing for me to be entertained by a falling cell phone for that long.
MUSIC - Another flawless aspect of this movie is the music. From the very first track, I was completely in love with Advent Children's score. A collection of different composers did the music for the movie and each and every one of them did an absolutely amazing job with every single track on this soundtrack. Every melody fit its scene, and every scene was so much more emotional or exciting because of it. The piano thrashing for "Those Who Fight" makes me wish I could play better. The guitars in "Black Water" get me totally pumped every single time. This soundtrack is also definitely one you could listen to over and over again, independent of the movie, and I'm sure that many others who haven't even seen the movie could enjoy the music here. The vocal track, "CALLING," at the end of the movie is also pretty nice, and I thought it was a great way to conclude it all.
VOICE ACTING - I've seen both the sub and dub. The sub was amazing. All the voices fit their roles wonderfully. Kadaj and Reno in particular had very memorable performances. The dub was much better than I thought it would be; really, the only real problem with the dub is Cid's hick accent, Yuffie's annoying voice, and the fact that Tifa's "zuruzuru zuruzuru" definitely did not translate well because we silly English-speakers don't have a sound effect for "dragging." Other than that, I couldn't have wanted more from the dub. An identical voice cast was used for all the FFVII characters in Kingdom Hearts II, so the voices were familiar. This also impressed me since the same was true for the Japanese version. What impressed me further was the fact that both Reno and Axel were voiced by the same actor in Japanese, and the same is true in English (ironically for Axel, his voice is also the Human Torch). Those little similarities are what make the fangirls happy. Moving on though, Steve Blum as Vincent Valentine? Totally awesome.
OVERALL - I think it's the general consensus all across the board that no one watched this movie for its brilliant storytelling and character development. This was an eyecandy movie for fans to squeal over. Really, the best way to watch this might be in Japanese with the subtitles off. That way, you can play ignorant to the bad stuff, but you still get all the brilliance of the voice acting, all of the amazing music, and of course, all of the visual madness that is this Advent Children. Enjoy.
Anime(?): AC is a digitally animated film that was released in 2005 by Square-Enix (famous for the Final Fantasies, duhr!), and directed by Tetsuya Nomura (Kingdom Hearts, FFVIII, FFX, duhr!). The original version was released in Japan in 2005, and it finally made its way Stateside in April of 2006 thanks to Squenix NA and Sony.
There have been several super-deluxe ultimate editions released, as is Squenix's habit, and I'm not even going to bother covering those.
Story: I would assume that you know this, but maybe you've been hiding under a rock. Basically, it's two years after
the Planet was almost destroyed by Meteor and Sephiroth, and now there's this disease called Geostigma striking the children, and Cloud's living life as a delivery man and being generally emo and such before he gets dragged back into things c/o three silver-haired men (ZOMG SEPHIROTHS?!).
In case you couldn't sense the sarcasm permeating the review up until this point, I'm not terribly impressed with this movie. The plot is very lacking, and I expect more from Squenix because I know they can deliver better than this.
No one gets any development (except Cloud, and that's only to from emo to zomgkickyourassSEPHIROTH!), which is disappointing, especially because we have the three silver-hairs who could've been developed pretty nicely, but are pretty much cardboard cutouts. This applies to the rest of the cast, too.
The plot is essentially something I could have found on Fanfiction.net, and about as well thought-out/executed, too. It boils down to Cloud emo, fight, fight, Cloud emo, silver-haired guys, fight, fight, Cloud emo, fight for the kids, fight, fight zomgsephiroth! Come on, Squenix! You've done better than this! Basically, it was very obvious that they did this simply to milk FFVII for everything that it's worth.
Art: It's Squenix, so it's guaranteed that the visuals are going to be astoundingly beautiful, which they are. The guys look prettier than the girls, for crying out loud!
I have a problem with the way they chose to cut this, though. Several people, both in the AC thread and in earlier reviews, have compared the editing to that of a music video. And it's not that far off. The cuts are very confusing, as are the angles, and it takes a few viewings to get used to it.
Music: It basically comes down to strings and choir background vocals mixed with hard rock. Not all that impressive, really. There are some good tracks ('For the Reunion', 'Aeris' Theme', whatever that one song is that plays during Tifa and Loz's fight, the AC version of One-Winged Angel), but it's not enough to save most of the soundtrack from repetition. Decent, overall.
Length: The repetition of the plot causes this to drag a little, despite how fast it moves along. The dragging is really obvious at the end, which is similar to Return of the King's in how long it takes to wrap up. Nomura admits this was originally planned as a twenty-minute short, but it just ended up expanding and expanding, and you can tell that it got a little bloated as it did.
Seiyuu: This is one of the saving graces of the film. I could watch this just for Rufus and Kadaj's seiyuu. And there are some top-tier seiyuu (Maaya Sakamoto as Aeris, most notably, and the guy who did Roy Mustang as Sephiroth) as well, and everyone else in the production carries their roles wonderfully.
Dub: However, what I said above doesn't go for the dub. The voices are amazingly bland when compared to their Japanese counterparts. Aeris and Tifa's voice actresses, most notably, deliver their lines like robots. The only ones who get close to their Japanese counterparts' performances are Kadaj and Sephiroth, and even those are pale imitations at best.
Performances like these are the reason I went to/usually stick to subs.
Overall: This was a disappointment to me, especially after I went out of my way to get a legal version. I'm hoping this doesn't carry over to the other Compilation of FFVII titles (though, from what I know thus far, Last Order didn't fare much better than this, and I've heard the same for Dirge of Cerberus, while the recently-released Crisis Core is said to be the best of the bunch). I know you're trying to get everything you can out of this, Squenix, but really, could you at least try for some quality?
Final Fantasy VII, the game, will have a special place in my heart for the reason that it was the first RPG I ever completed. It holds powerful sway, so much so I've beaten it 100% many times, worked hard to raise gold chocobo's and even defeated the "unbeatable" Weapons.
Sitting down to Advent Children I came into it with mixed thoughts. On one hand I knew it would never capture the charm of the game, but since it had all the same characters it must have some good parts. Was I right? No, I was horribly wrong.
I watched this movie both subtitled with Japanese audio
and in English. But never have I felt more empty and broken then when I finished this movie. The story itself is like a poorly written fanfiction compressed into a short movie. Character development is null because those characters developed DURING THE GAME. I thought perhaps I was being too critical on the game as a hardcore otaku, and so I watched it trying to pull away and look at it as "fanboy-ish" as possible.
Did it work? No, no it failed horribly. Even as a fan of the game I hated this movie, hated what they did to my favorite characters and what they did to an ending that I thought was very well done. The ONLY thing about this movie that I thought was decent was the art. But that's to be expected, animation quality nowadays is top-notch and since FF7 is a serious fanbase it's not hard to expect that the quality of the animation would be top-notch. So would I recommend this movie to anyone? No, definitely not
There's hate, and then there's the white hot, seething hatred anime fans have for CGI anime. Look, none's denying there have been some atrocious missteps in the past when it comes to CG in anime, but it can be done right!