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.
The movie sequel to the smash hit PS1 JRPG and it does offer to the average fan what he would expect from the premise of the game -> Big swords, pretty chicks, emoness, some ecology-themed crisis and Sephiroth. Yeah, the main villain is a category of his own.Above anything else, this movie is basically fan pleasing. It wasn’t made in order to offer a thought-provoking story or to further develop its characters; those are left as nothing but a rehash of the game. It was made just to show off at how cool their technology is and to milk the fans. But I must admit that this movie is not horrible, which means it is amongst the best videogame adaptations ever made. Yeah, the bar is set low on this particular category …Anyways, the first thing one will notice is how the animation and the artwork kick ass, both literal and metaphorically. They didn’t hold back on the budget; that’s for sure. And it sure looks a lot better than in the game; not that I had any real problem with the blocky chibi characters there. They took the feeling of the original artwork, gave it a small boost of a 1.000.000% more polygon power, and created a far crisper version of the half-dead world in the series. The only details they really changed are how they added cell-phones instead of walky-talkies, which strikes me as nothing but product placement. I bet the sun-glasses are that too. Oh well, I can forgive them for something so minor, I have absolutely nothing to complain about the quality of the animation and I am not nitpicky enough to bitch at how some motions look stiff or some grimaces look fake. I liked it as it is. I had no trouble getting used to the more human-looking characters either (compared to the game). Even the action scenes, as far-fetched and unrealistic as they might have been, looked great as guilty pleasure. I can now hear the characters talk and thus I can’t really make a comparison to the game; there were no voice-overs back then. I accept them as they are; no qualms again. They didn’t sound bad to me or anything although they did have that corny shounen-like feeling in them; which is fine since the movie is technically aimed at a shounen demographic. And hands down on the OST; it is the best remake from midi to rock/orchestra ever made. You can bitch about the story or the visuals but the soundtrack is plain awesome. I listen to it even after all these years; a thing I rarely do for other songs. Plus it was placed in appropriate moments in the movie and not in irrelevant moments. It helped to get the juices flowing and thus I again accept it as it is: perfect. Now regarding the story part, there are two versions of it and you better go watch the extended one if you want to get the full picture of it in a more appropriate manner. With half an hour more footage full of talking and present the events in a more understood way, you get a lot more from it than from the original one, which was quite vague and rather dried up. I kinda excuse them why they did it, since they were pressed to finish the movie before the deadline and most viewers would probably be bored if it was any longer because of the talking. But past that difference, we are talking about a movie here based on cool characters and an interesting theme but nothing more. Expecting a great story is rather anal; especially when almost half its duration is action scenes and the entire backdrop has already been exposed in the game. And it’s not like you must play the game to fully understand what is going on either, since there is a kid describing via monologue the state of the setting in the beginning of the movie. For a sequel, I liked how it didn’t do the mistake of ass-pulling new stuff in the setting, like most do. The new adversaries, the black Neo Stigma warriors and the sick children, fit in the core themes of the original scenario and were even vaguely foreshadowed in a way. It’s the day-after-the-game era, when the world tries to recover from the ecological damage Shinra and Mother did and there are remnants of both sides to deal with. I see nothing bad here; they didn’t throw in some weird new enemy out of nowhere or something and the core themes are intact. So far, so good.A problem with the plot is that it’s mostly nothing but an excuse to move from one battle to another. In fact everything plays out as a poorly constructed build-up just for the gang to appear on-screen once more. And even when it does, it’s not really that amazing, so, seriously, don’t try to watch the movie for its storytelling because you won’t find much. Especially in the original version which leaves everything vague and confusing. It is fan pleasing to the most part and the most boring parts in it were the attempts at building up drama during the non-action scenes. “Hey, stop crying and start fighting already!” is what I was thinking. There are some really emo moments in it that feel way too sappy to work, but I guess this is the trend of the franchise series in general, after Square moved from Nintendo to Sony. But anyways, the interaction of the characters, despite feeling basic to the most part, is still fine for a movie feature and makes far more sense if you have played the game and are watching the extended version. Since the movie is not introducing anything entirely new, there was no need to waste much time in analyzing to begin with. Plus, three out of the five major characters from the game were already dead before the movie even begins so, ok, all there is left to expect is cool action. Some one-liners are exchanged, some emoness is thrown in just for the heck of it, and then here come the action. Said action is great of course but to be honest it doesn’t last long enough to enjoy each battle to the fullest. It’s like they were planning to make a scene to last as much as the affiliated song in the background, which was never more than 5 minutes. Plus, they had two dozen songs to cover and around 90 minutes to wrap everything up. What else could they do other than making spars and short-lived emo speeches? It will mostly feel like poor screenplay, rushed pacing and not enough time to get into the mood of each scene separately. So yeah, the story is basic and there is nothing they could do with that; so you might as well just watch it for the cool factor. Something similar comes with the cast which, just like the story, is already introduced and developed in the game. The movie uses them as nothing but cameos for the fans to enjoy, so do not expect character development from the main characters. Even the new villains and the sick children have a very basic handling in getting to know and like them beyond an equally basic level. And even that will probably be lost under a ton of action scenes. If you go in and expect to see everything established from point zero, then everyone in this film will feel too much like a caricature with a vague character trait that is thrown in there for fan catering and nothing more. Heck, they even threw in characters that were supposed to be dead; some as ghosts, others that were “presumed dead” and others as “resurrected” which pretty much ruins any drama around their deaths to begin with. But whatever, this is fan catering at its best. What is a bit off is how they made Vincent to look more bad-ass than the protagonist Cloud, by making him appear to be this mean red-cloaked super ghost or something. Hell, he is almost presented as a main character when he is an otherwise minor extra character in the game. I guess they wanted to make him look cool for his upcoming Dirge of Cerberus game, where he is starring instead of Cloud. It was a silly attempt at building hype and the game ended up being an average shooter. But you know what? If they had the time to do something similar with every other character, this wouldn’t feel so weird (or bad). Each one would get his 15 minutes of glory and a nice introduction to his own game. In this case we would of course need enough more duration to fill a whole second movie or something but it would definitely save face for the characters and even make the story feel better.But it’s ok, let’s not be too critical here; the movie is very good at what it’s supposed to be doing and since I liked the game a lot I am a bit biased towards overseeing its hiccups. It has a fine name in its title and for the duration it was allowed, it offered a basic plot and lots of good action. It sure felt a lot more enjoyable that, let’s say, the animated Tekken movie or the live action adaptations of Super Mario, Street Fighter, Dead or Alive, or Dragonball. Plot and character emersion suffer of course but the soundtrack is still awesome and I still watch the action scenes from time to time. That counts as a half-success to me. So if I make some evaluation, we get these scores: ART & SOUND SECTIONS: Both versions get 10/10 STORY & CHARACTER SECTIONS: Original: 6/10, Complete: 7/10 VALUE & ENJOYMENT SECTIONS: Original: 7/10, Complete: 8/10 VERDICT: Original: 7.5/10, Complete: 8.5/10
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