The scriptwriters pretty much inserted some Final Fantasy trademark names (Cid, Life Stream) just to dress a pile of American garbage thinking it would be enough to sell. Keep dreaming you guys; wake up when you realize that the fans of the series are not looking just for names. I must admit though that at least Squaresoft is steadily learning from its mistakes.
-The first Final Fantasy series, The Legend of the Crystals was a completely low budgeted and boring title that was worthily forgotten by the anime community.
-The second series, Final Fantasy Unlimited was more sophisticated and planned through but also ended up being boring and incomplete.
-The third attempt was this movie, which raised the production costs sky high and gave the fans awesome graphics. But it almost bankrupted the company because it didn’t provide what the fans really wanted.
-The fourth attempt was Advent Children, which raised the production costs even more but it FINALLY gave the fans what they always wanted from this series: Brainless action, cool energetic characters and fanboyism.
You can’t make a serious movie out of a game; at least not without the three aforementioned elements. And this movie hardly provides one of them.
Everything looks as a sci-fi thriller should look. Dark colors, detail to machinery, packed with a claustrophobic feeling and a grim atmosphere. Wreckage, heartless machines, eerie ghosts and a chilly sensation everywhere. It’s not something we haven’t seen before; all sci-fi thrillers pretty much follow the same pattern. But it still looks gorgeous for what it is. The characters are made out of so many polygons and filters that they look almost as real people but there isn’t that much attention given to physics. It is way better than in most 3D movies but its glitches stand out a lot easier in such detailed graphics. Characters and vehicles move in a rather “bulky” way, making you think that they are slowpokes. It probably is some technicality with the motion-capture technology; whatever the reason they move in a rather fake way.
The music themes are very atmospheric but otherwise completely forgettable. The sound effects are crystal clear but too reminiscent of American action b-movies, which I happen to loathe. Voice acting is rather dry. We are talking about some really famous actors providing their voices and the result is still average in comparison with a typical anime series. They all sound so lukewarm, as if they didn’t care much. Still, they saved some face at how the characters were talking in a very smart and/or sophisticated way. I didn’t feel like I was wasting my time paying attention to what they were saying.
There are some very interesting themes in the story, reminiscent of the ecological feel of Final Fantasy 7 but it just plays out in a very dull way. Some alien invasion cliché that turns metaphysical and psychological towards the end can’t possibly unfold properly in just 90 minutes. Many characters are given some openings to affect the story from the sides, but in the end it was just a straightforward scenario. I didn’t like how the setting was Earth and more specifically, America. THERE NEVER WHERE REAL EARTH LOCATIONS IN THE GAMES. It is another Hollywood movie that presented the Americans to be the possible saviors or destroyers of mankind. Talk about propaganda! The pacing is uneven, as it is scary and slow at first, frenetic and blood boiling in the middle, bleak and slow again in the end. It changed too fast and always in a distasteful way. At least there is a complete ending; as sappy as it may be, it is generally not a predictable happy ending one. No openings are left for a sequel (who would want one, anyway?).
The producers forgot that the characters in the Final Fantasy games were supermen. They could do all sorts of extreme stuff that made them interesting. All the characters in the movie are typical humans with simple personalities, so it is very hard to get to like them as much. At least they all have a different personality and a personal way of thinking. Very reminiscent of every American stereotyped character you can think of but are diverse nonetheless. One wants to protect his loved one, one to save the world, one to destroy the enemy, one just to make us laugh. They are quite two dimensional and stuck to a specific way of thinking but the movie doesn’t last that long in order to be fed up with them. Sadly none of them is given much of a backdrop or enough focus to shine, thus they all feel like cardboards. The worst part though is how none of them gets any development. The main heroes come to admit their feelings for each other but that was always there and not something I was looking forward to hear anyway. In the end though all the characters either die or accomplish their goals. There is total catharsis for all the survivors; maybe not the one they expected but a catharsis nonetheless.
VALUE & ENJOYMENT
A disappointing film, considering the budget it had, the hype it got, and the years it made us wait to watch it. Final Fantasy 7 has the exactly same elements and in a lot better way, a thing you can enjoy by watching that film instead (if not to play the game). So this American piece of propaganda can shovel a Materia up its ass and ride towards the sundown on the back of a Chocobo while singing “I’m a lonesome cowboy, far away from Midgard” (A joke on the American producers who missed the point).
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 8/10
General Artwork 2/2 (good looking)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (detailed)
Animation 1/2 (kinda crude)
Visual Effects 2/2 (nice looking)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 1/2 (typical)
Pacing 1/2 (dull)
Complexity 2/2 (rich context)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 0/2 (none)
Catharsis 2/2 (overblown but solid)
VALUE SECTION: 1/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 0/3 (no reason to rewatch it)
Memorability 1/4 (it had some good ideas, but nothing you can’t find in FF7)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 5/10
Art 1/1 (looks nice)
Sound 1/2 (sounds ok)
Story 1/3 (good ideas but presented in a dull way)
Characters 2/4 (they are ok but are not given time to develop or become likable)