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FINAL FANTASY: ADVENT CHILDREN gets a pair o' reviews!

Ahoy, squirt! Quint here with some reviews of FINAL FANTASY: ADVENT CHILDREN. I know this is out on DVD in Asia, but it's just now starting to play some bigger fests like VENICE, so the reviews are coming in. I've never really gotten into any of the FINAL FANTASY games, but I do respect the huge fanbase it has. It sounds like there is some beautiful CG imagery in this new film. Enjoy the reviews!

Hey Harry & Mori,

I don’t often have a scoop, seeing as I live in the Netherlands, so usually, I only have news for you when I visit the Rotterdam Film Festival. However, recently I “had the chance” to see Final fantasy VII – Advent children early, and after reading the review on AnimAICN, I thought I’d weigh in too.

Just like that reviewer, I’m a massive fan of Final fantasy VII, the game this film is a sequel to. In fact, it’s my favourite game of all time (and I’ve played a few games, believe me). And so the first few minutes of the feature were absolutely fantastic: just seeing my favourite characters again, and brought to life so vividly, was emotionally overwhelming. However, it soon turned out that, along with its stunning visuals and outstanding action scenes, nostalgia was all the film had going for it.

Advent children weaves a shallow, confused story that ties directly into some of the themes that were explored more fully in FFVII the game. If you didn’t play its source material, don’t even bother watching Advent children (unless all you need out of a flick is great action). Its character arcs are extremely superficial. Its villains are one-note and shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath as FFVII’s multilayered bad guy. There are moments of sudden, cloying sentimentality (the ending being especially egregious). Characters show up out of nowhere with not even the smallest nod to logic or continuity, just to incorporate them all into the film. The flow of the film is all wrong, with the majority of the action scenes in the latter half of the film, while much of the running time of the first half is taken up by stunted exposition and character interaction that, for the most part, rings false. The story itself is completely without surprises.

I could go on. But it all comes down to one simple fact: Advent Children wants nothing more than to dilute the entire 60+ hours experience of the game into a 90 minute narrative. Some of the same emotional beats are followed, but the creators seem to be thinking: “This’ll work because the viewer will think back to the game” instead of “This’ll work because it works in the context of the film.” What you’re left with is a film that turns your TV set into a mirror: if you’re a hopeless fanboy, you’ll love the hell out of it. If you’re not, even if you love the game but retain some critical faculties, you’ll be bored to tears in between the action scenes.

Yes, the action scenes are great – though sometimes a little too over the top at times (and the fast editing makes it too hard to follow). But the bottom line is: this film doesn’t have anything to offer non-Final fantasy fans; and since it doesn’t actually bring anything new to the table for fans either, it’s pretty much another failed film experiment from Square Enix, and a major, major disappointment. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to play FFVII again to wash the taste out of my mouth.

3 stars out of five, just for the visuals and actions scenes.

The Last Lizard, signing off.

And now one that likes it even better than the above reviewer!

Oh Lord, I'll run out of adjectives on this one...

The /Final Fantasy/ role-playing game series is by far the most popular, reknowned and hailed series in that particular genre for computer or console players on earth. Square is the name of the company who created /Final Fantasy/, a franchise which spawned a whole lot of brilliant games on almost every platform available. In 2001 Square decided to take their franchise to an entirely new level and released a theatrical movie called *FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN*, which remains unbeaten in technological standards until this day. Sadly, the completely computer-generated movie disappointed many fans with its boring story and lame pacing.

Some time after the flop of the extremely expensive movie, short trailers of something called *FINAL FANTASY VII: ADVENT CHILDREN* began to roam the internet and fans were delving into anticipation instantly, once again. Near the end of 2004, the fans finally got what they were waiting for - a movie based on the (seldom disputed) best game in /Final Fantasy/ history, which is the seventh instalment in the main series. People who have never heard of something called /Final Fantasy VII/ may leave now, because this review is recommended for fans only, since you cannot write about this movie in a purely subjective way if you know the game.

The entire fact, that this film has been released on video and was only granted few theatrical screenings, shows that Square Enix (as the company's name is now) made this movie to please the core of their supporters - the fans of the game. *FINAL FANTASY VII: ADVENT CHILDREN* takes place two years after the events of the video game, which has been released on PlayStation and PC, and its prologue does little to set up a base of knowledge for someone who has never gotten in touch with /Final Fantasy VII/. Nevertheless, those who know the original story will have a hard time taking their eyes off the screen if only for a second as soon as the prologue starts.

*ADVENT CHILDREN* has - as its unlucky predecessor - entirely been computer-generated and the experience is the same as watching a 100-minute, extremely-high quality in-game movie. The visuals are breathtaking and your eyes will have a difficult time staying open this wide for so long. The whole world and scenery and every little object or item looks astonishingly realistic, even if the characters cannot match the brilliance of *FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN*. There are maybe one or two awkward moments of animation, but - really - you don't care. Every single second of this movie makes you gasp in awe of what you're experiencing.

The story may not be the ultimate achievement in writing ever, especially compared to the /Final Fantasy VII/ story itself and even to die-hard fans of the game, but it does work and keeps you fixed on the action until the last sound of the ending theme has vanished. But - again - you won't really care, because Square Enix have done a beautiful job in connecting dramatic moments with awesome action sequences. There is a great motorcycle chase right at the beginning which introduces the main character, Cloud Strife, whose not-so-childish-anymore looks are obviously based on Japanese singer Gackt, and his opponent, the Jenova spawn Kadaj.

Fans of the game will try hard to keep their heartbeat steady when well-known characters make appearances every five minutes and remember all the great moments of the game when short flashbacks interrupt the rash pacing. The second big fighting sequence features Tifa Lockheart and you're gonna burst out in laughter when the original winning theme is suddenly played, only to see that it's actually the bad guy's handy ringtone! A classic moment in movie history, if you ask me.

Another ultimately great moment, or let's say a whole lot of connected moments, is the gorgeous and very long sequence of the whole hero party fighting big bad Bahamut. Seriously, that fight beats every other action sequence I've ever witnessed and if you're gonna complain about those jumps not being realistic, I'll guarantee to kick your ass so hard that you're gonna feel like Cloud in exactly that sequence. Speaking of Bahamut, there are so many big or little insiders in this movie that you'll have to watch it twice at least to catch every one. Hell, even Cait Sith is in this!

The ending of the movie really puts a satisfying and sad edge to the entire story of the /Final Fantasy VII/ saga, even if the big showdown of Cloud versus Sephiroth cannot quite live up to the Bahamut fight. There's Aeris at the end and, seriously, you'll want to cry, if you didn't already. But not everything in this movie is sad, of course - especially Reno gives a shining performance that will make you smile more than once. Just to add it here, all the voice actors did a terrific job and I won't name a single one, because there is not a single exception. I also advice you to watch this with the original Japanese voices, because it's just the way it should be watched. I haven't seen a American dubbed version of *ADVENT CHILDREN*, but then, I don't want to.

Nobuo Uematsu, who has written the soundtrack for almost every /Final Fantasy/ game, has also done the movie's soundtrack and this is, of course, a blessing. He uses many themes of the original game soundtrack and shows once again, that he's possibly the best man for fantasy soundtracks on every platform, be it game or movie. Tetsuya Nomura has done a beautiful job directing this movie, which is full of climactic moments, gorgeous action sequences and quiet, sad scenes. There is not a single misplaced shot in the entire movie, so I'd say, work well done.

*ADVENT CHILDREN* is the holy grail for /Final Fantasy/ lovers and nothing short of brilliant. Its story is, of course, not as well-developed as in one of the games, but this is a 100-minute movie and no game where you can spend 80 hours on. In return you get a movie that will blow your mind, features the usual coolness and style of any of the games and will end your /Final Fantasy VII/ experience in a way you've ever dreamt of. The average movie fan may prefer a movie like *CASSHERN* to see his cinematic dreams in a similar genre fulfilled, but for fans of the game, *FINAL FANTASY VII: ADVENT CHILDREN* can only be described by one single word: Perfection.


See ya, Cava~

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