In a time of great heroes, the evil Sephiroth and the power of Meteor were vanquished by a warrior named Cloud Strife and his companions. Now, though the life stream of the world has been restored, certain people have become sick with Geo Stigma -- an illness which is as mysterious as it is incurable. Meanwhile, in the shadows, a new enemy has appeared: Kadaj, who holds the key to the destruction of all life. Against insurmountable odds, Cloud, Tifa, Barrett, Cid and the rest of the gang must band together one last time to defeat Kadaj and save the world from annihilation.
StoryThis review assumes you have played the original Final Fantasy VII game. If you haven't, I would heartily discourage you from watching this movie, because your enjoyment of it will most likely be far below what it should be. Ultimately, the way to judge it is not by asking ‘Does it do a good job in itself?' but ‘Does it pick up our beloved characters where we left off without running roughshod over our memories?' Let's face it, the game needs no further qualification, so if you're gonna create a superfluous sequel just to keep the fans slavering, it's wise to avoid destroying the original idea in the process. For that reason alone (the fact that it can't remould any of the original material) the story is undoubtedly going to be mediocre. What drives the plot are not the motivations of the characters but the stunning set pieces. Fights are like massive feasts set out on the longest table you have ever seen; your eyes can't possibly take it all in although you'll desperately try, and just when you think you're satisfied, they roll out this end battle like a five-tiered fruit cake with a cherry on top. We are propelled like hapless scrap in a whirlwind from one explosive fight to another, rarely getting time to catch our breath; rarely getting time to understand what the heck they're fighting about... but who cares, it looks so cool! Part of the story's fun is also catching all those little references and adaptations like true geeks, such as Cloud's Blade Beam or one of the kids' moogle toys. Elements of the plot feel a bit disjointed, with things not being explained too well. For example, where the heck did that holy water come from? Why didn't it appear earlier? What Summon magic are those dogs at the beginning exactly (I don't remember them from the game) and how were they summoned if materia is no longer widely available? And are those Geostigma kids actually important to the plot or not? Nobody knows, but luckily, Advent Children doesn't take itself too seriously, so it avoids showing itself up too badly in light of these flaws. Ultimately, the movie realises it cannot stand on its own two legs and thus falls back on a bedrock element from the original game for its climax. The twist is exciting not because it's the most elegant twist in the world (which it isn't), but because the fact that it happens is just cool in itself. With hindsight, Advent Children actually seems like an excuse for the end fight, which is one reason I'd argue it's so important to have played FFVII.AnimationWith a reputation for providing splendid cut scenes (who could forget Squall and Rinoa's first dance or Tidus' opening blitzball game) there was no choice for Square Enix but to wow the crowd again. Chances are you won't find CG animation like this anywhere for a couple more years. There is one updated scene from the game, namely Red XIII running towards a ruined Midgar with his cubs, as well as beautiful character designs again truthful to the game. Let's face it, Cloud and Tifa have never looked this good. As mentioned above, the fight scenes are second to none; quick cuts, slow-mo effects, and mid-air manoeuvres combine to make these fights extravagant and lightning fast. In fact, I can only give one piece of advice when watching this movie, advice kindly offered to me when my friend handed me a copy - don't blink.SoundWhat could possibly be better than the game's original soundtrack? A revamped version of course! Of notable beauty is the theme Fighting which has turned piano. I'm a proud downloader of the soundtrack and can't get enough of the metal version of One Winged Angel, which in my opinion supersedes the original. Not to mention the more drum'n'bass-like Jenova and the brand new Cloud vs. Bahamut theme, Divinity II. Nobuo Uematsu simply outdid himself, capturing that sense of nostalgia whilst reinterpreting the texture and feel of FFVII's world with updated material. The Japanese voice acting is competent throughout, although not the most dynamic I have heard, mainly because much of the dialogue is held in low tones that come across as emotionless. Actually, there are two notable exceptions, Reno whose juvenile speech is refreshing, and one other character whose voice was wholly electrifying...CharactersTifa, Vincent, Yuffie and all the surviving FFVII cast remain exactly what they were, with only Cloud still coming to terms with the Super Shocking Event of the game. Because the groundwork for their personalities has already been laid down by the game, their interaction outside of the fights can make for static viewing. This is a ‘what are they doing now' kind of story, not a fresh adventure that unearths new traits and concerns. Why? Because any production team that took the characters in a new direction would be bound to leave half the fans behind baying for their blood. It is possible to briefly discuss Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo, three antagonistic brothers who enter this world as new characters and must therefore be explained. Their motivations on the whole are believable in the limited context of the movie but not truly remarkable or exciting. In fact, Kadaj comes across a little petty with his constant demands for his mother. His two brothers don't even get to voice why they fight; they presumably do it because their leader tells them to. There is an attempt to produce a sense of pathos with the brothers since all they want is a world in which they belong, but let's face it, it would take another FFVII game (God forbid) to make us care that much. In essence, these individuals are vehicles for animation wizardry, being just fleshy enough to convince us but remaining flat enough not to disturb any original concepts.OverallIf you haven't played the game, your overall enjoyment of this anime might be as low as 4 or 5, because the creators rely heavily on the emotions you experienced with the original carrying over into the movie. It'd be like launching into Return of the King without having bothered with Fellowship of the Ring. For fans it is enjoyable in light of the game; it makes no attempt to fix what isn't broken. My only real gripe is, all those stunning sequences and not one golden chocobo in sight...
Yes, I do realize that this score does NOT reflect or match the score on my anime list on the site: 4.5/5 stars, however, that's my fangirl score. This score is a better assesment of what I actually think of the movie deserves, along with(obviously) a review as an assesment. I should add one more thing before going into this. PLAY/WATCH FINAL FANTASY VII BEFORE WATCHING THIS MOVIE! Trust me, it's really hard to understand without at least playing through Final Fantasy VII once beforehand. I watched it once without playing through the games and only knowing about the characters and circumstances from Kingdom Hearts and a cursory understanding of who was alive and dead. I was incredibly confused, as this movie is confusing to someone who doesn't understand it. At least read through a detailed description of what happens. Though, to have a full and fufilling experience watching this movie, you must know the franchise. Story (6/10): The first reason I'm giving the story only a six is because it's impossible to understand without playing Final Fantasy VII. Trust me. Alright, anyway, the story otherwise is a new epic battle between Cloud and friends and their new epic battle against Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo. (And of course *spoilers* Sepiroth has to be thrown in their somewhere with his giant long sword. *spoilers over*) There's also a crazy disease called 'Geo stigma' running rampant and affecting certain characters in the story like Denzel and Moogle girl. If this all sounds like the makings for an epic movie, it is. The story premise is interesting, especially with character motivation which we'll look at later in the character segment of the review. The pacing of the movie is great, with some amazing action segments during the fights. However, it does get a little confusing and hard to follow at parts. Animation (10/10): I haven't seen animation more gorgeous that this in my life. It would be incredible to see more animation this realistic in 2013, and this movie was made in 2005. It's incredible, and beautiful. Watch it in HD if possible. For some examples: The individual wrinkles on Kadaj's leather gloves are detailed fully. The hair is incredible, with every strand fully visible and realistic, and, as my best friend pointed out; "Even in the final battle, when Cloud gets a cut on his cheek, the blood gets in his hair! It gets in his hair!" The details are all incredible. The church is beautiful, with the flowers growing around in it(Is it awkward that the church in Romeo x Juliet looks like it?) The motion is fluid and action scenes are epic. One annoying thing I've noticed in some animes and other forms of media is that when there are battles going on, in the heat of the action, I have no idea who just punched who. That never happens. All in all, take a bit of advice from the Doctor on this one and don’t blink. (I do realize something similar was said in another review, but it really holds true to the o) Sound (10/10): I love the soundtrack of this movie. It's amazing, epic, and pretty combined as one. All of the songs fit. I perticularly enjoy Sepiroth's battle theme. Same goes for voice actors, fabulous, fitting, and great! :) There's even a great favorite of mine voicing Reno in English! Characters (6/10): I'll admit the only reason I agreed to watch this movie in the first place was because of Cloud. Cloud is sexy, complicated, deep, and looks amazing in the movie. He's one of my favorite protagonists ever. All of the Final Fantasy VII characters, Cid, Yuffie, Vincent, Reno, etc. are great! However, the problem comes in with Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo, the villains of the story, who want to resurect their mother *cough* Jenova *cough cough* Yazoo is probably the most forgetable of the three, and other than Kadaj's and Loz's quirks, the three are pretty much around to show of flashy magic effects.(which are still gorgeous) Overall (8/10): This is a must see for Final Fantasy VII fans, seriously. It's a great movie. I would highly recomend it. Just know about the series beforehand. Trust me. For others, if you enjoy good CG animation, I’d still check it out with some background information.
Quite frankly, there is little to no story with this anime. And the argument you have to play the game is ludicrous (and yes, I have played it). James Cameron has said that you don't shouldn't have to enjoy a sequel without any viewing the previous installment. Should Terminator 2 really not have had any plot and just leave it to the first movie for it? The Dark Knight doesn't require to watch Batman Begins. And fuck, Rocky Balboa tells its own story without having to watch the first five movies and the Godfather Part II does a great job as well. Other than that, this movie doesn’t really advance Tifa and Cloud’s relationship neither does it really develop the characters. Nor does it really connect to the 400 years later ending where Red XIII is slowly bringing back his race. Most of the characters featured are just Cloud, Tifa, Reno, and Rude. Cloud just doesn't have the charisma to really carry the movie and his emoness really kills me. Sephiroth is still delusional that Jenova is his mother when it was already proven that she technically wasn't. Hell, I didn't really care about Sephiroth anymore. I never get why they needed to bring him back when Cloud at this point has technically killed him 3 times. I also didn't like the Geostigma angle. It was really a selective and lazy plot device. It really did nothing to effect Cloud's performances in the fight scenes nor does it explain why he has it compared to the rest of the cast. And there’s no point to what the orphans are doing rather than just having super speed and being puppets to Kadaj when possessed by him. The movie doesn't give me any reason why I should care about Denzel or Kadaj's useless henchmen any more than I should for the other cast members such as Red XIII, Barrett, Yuffie, Cait Sith or Cid. The rest of the main cast just shows up at the resolution for the big fight at the end and that’s it. They really make no other use for the characters. Their presence was so useless that I felt the movie would have been the same without them. Kadaj is a lame villain and his cast is so lame to take seriously because of their "I want my mommy" complex. Hell, I could have sold into Cloud's emoness and the cast being useless if they were infected with geostigma instead of him. And all it took to cure this disease was fucking holy water? Most anti-climatic ending ever!!!! Despite its convoluted attempt at a plot, the quality of the 3D art and animation cannot be denied, though in my opinion, I didn’t find it enough to make up for any of the bad qualities. But we are only given a grim and gray design to the environment to further make the movie depressing. The movie doesn't show the brighter places like The Gold Saucer or Cosmo Canyon which I thought would have been cool to see. I think the re-designing and refraining from more anime-esque design characteristics did help a lot to make the characters more realistic though the anime use of hair styles and colors are still present. Tifa has a whole new outfit. Instead of wearing a mid-drift and short shorts like she wore in the game, she now wears a pretty descent dress that makes her more like a legitimate warrior than a street gang member from Final Fight. Cloud’s outfit is of course slightly changed. He wears something like a trench coat but really not. He’s really wearing something capey, if that is all a word. And the villains look like emo kids and I can't tell if they're men or women either. Plus, it was sooooo ridiculous when Kadaj walks into the water and turns it black. Even though it wasn't intended to be funny, I laughed as if I heard an old school Chris Rock joke from his Bigger and Blacker album. The praised fights that has been acclaimed for, I found repetitive and most of all, unoriginal and boring. To me, saying that Advent Children has awesome fight scenes is like praising Theirategamer for his reviews of Back to the Future and Ninja Turtles on NES. It's pretty much a rip off of Matrix's fight scenes with some of Rurouni Kenshin but makes it worse. Some scenes have some cliché’ pan shots like when that one guy finished off Tifa at the church. I just found the final fight scene as Matrix Revolutions with swords and I thought it went unreasonably and ridiculously over the top in like in the movie of Prince of Tennis, Futari no Samurai when Ryoma and Ryoga have their tennis bout. Though not at the same drastic level of stupidity. Overall, I fought no tension or sense of danger in the fight scenes. In the opening fight scene where Cloud gets shot point black in the face and just knocks off his sunglasses with little to no damage, I just found it ridiculous and takes away all that sense of danger and I feel they go no where. It’s also cool they brought in the materia feature but I didn’t think was used properly enough. It is also nice we do get to see the limit break techniques but other than omni slash, they really do nothing. It was really cool when villains summoned I believe Bahamut from another game. I haven’t played the game in awhile so my knowledge of the summons is kind of rusty. I thought the design was awesome and was really breathtaking, but the actual fight and the way they beat him by the cast pushing up Cloud into the air for more boost was just, a huge WTF moment to me. Granted the art and animation is excellent in it’s own right, like the plot, there is too much that is still unexplained and elaborated. When the hell did they get semi-aerial abilities in this? Some people may think its cool and I will agree for visuals it is, but it kind of leaves too many questions.You do hear the argument you never apply physics in anime, but at least Dragon Ball, Macross, and Gundam have foundational principles in relation to their physics that make the action easier to follow and understand. They got Nobuo, the composer from the games back to do this one and a majority of the songs you hear from the game, you’ll also hear in this movie. Especially the final song (One Winged Angel) when you fight Sephiroth int he end of the game. The music is well appropriately placed and sets the atmosphere very well. So I got nothing much to say on the music rather than that and I think it was a great idea for Square to do that. However, my main emphasis will be the voice acting in both the Japanese and English dub. Personally, I think the dub sucks. Granted they got some big names like Rachel Leigh Cook and Steven Blum to do the characters, but they weren’t really good. I don’t think Steven Blum as Vincent Valentine sounded natural and too scratchy and just didn’t really match his character like how I didn‘t think he did GTO very well. I just feel that this casting gives me the notion along with Blum's selection to play GTO and Wolverine that the fan base and industry of North American voice acting overrates him big time just because he was awesome as Spike in Cowboy Bebop. Yeah, he was great in that role, but doesn't meant he'd be great in others. The delivery of the lines in English are just broken. Rufus talks like a bad William Shatner impersonator, and Sephiroth has little to no charisma in his voice. The actors aren’t really that dynamic in English..The Japanese version I thought was ok. Toshiyuki Morikawa (who also plays Griffith in Berserk and Vorg in Hajime no Ippo) as Sephiroth was better than George Newbern. I just think Miki Shin’ichiro who has played Sephiroth in other games did a much better job. He had that dynamic delivery I’m looking for and a distinct able charisma. Keiji Fujiwara as Reno was excellent by portraying a character who is really laid back and informal. Though the Japanese version is much better, or so you would expect, it’s not really the best acting I heard in anime granted that the Japanese track has hired a few big name seiyuus. I think Cloud's voice was good, but I just don't think his personality gives him any charisma to really carry the movie as I said earlier. In the words of the great Yoshiyuki Tomino, “People go to the movies today to see movement more than story, and then you end up with something like the third episode of The Matrix.” When it comes to Advent Children, truer words can never be spoken. For my personal standards of when I want to watch something, I like to see an engaging story. Especially in the case of Final Fantasy. I think Square could have done this, but they didn’t. I say personal enjoyment of this anime is probably based more on your own personal expectations between story and/or animation itself. But I don’t think Square’s reasons are enough to justify a terrible plot with no point.
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