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Review – Movie – Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

I don’t review too many movies. Generally, I don’t find I have too much to say about most movies I watch so I steer clear of trying to do detailed reviews. However, Advent Children is one movie I found I had a lot to say on, and it’s the sequel to a game I’ve reviewed twice in one of my favorite game series that I’ve done many reviews for, so I’m sort of obligated. I’ll also add, before I get started, that this review contains spoilers for the film, so if you care about having the plot ruined, which the movie does a good job of doing itself, don’t read too much into this. Most of the spoilers are probably fairly minor and vague though if they don’t fall intot he obvious category.

Where to start. I like to go with good points before I get to bad points so we’ll go there. This movie is the most visually impressive and incredibly choreographed movie I have seen to date. It uses a very generous helping of “Game Physics” to accomplish most of it’s stunts, but the reactions and fights betweent he various characters are quick and generally believable. Of particular note are Tifa’s duel with Loz in the church and Vincent’s first appearance. The climactic battle with Bahamut was a bit lame an over the top but not for it’s effects, there are other reasons I’ll cover later why that whole section of the movie pretty much destroys the entire experience.

On the negative, what was up with the whole subplot of the brothers kidnapping the children? What were they using them for? What was the point other than to incite Cloud into attacking them? Maybe that was the point. But if so, why bring them to the town’s circle? It was very unclear. The Geostigma subplot all around was pointless and only served to add needless confusion. Still it’s something that could have been remedied with a bit more cohesion added to the plot.

On the subject of completely pointless. Why did the cast of the game show up at all? Cloud, Tifa, hell I’ll give you Vincent, they are all useful to the plot. They make sense to be there. Cait Sith residing around on Red XIII’s back? Cid and Yuffie? Why are these characters even present? They appear completely out of nowhere, charge around battling Bahamut while mutteringrandom cliché lines (almost all of Yuffie’s lines have the term “Materia” in them somewhere, she’s more obsessed than in the game). Barret makes a vague appearance through Cloud’s cell phone early on and the predominance of Marline could have almost let his presence be allowable to the plot except that it’s overshadowed by the pointlessness of the other characters.

It’s total blatant fan service. The whole movie feels this way. They actually have a fairly decent plot that goes well with the plot of Final Fantasy VII except that it’s bogged down with pointless showy fan service of “This is what a remake of FF7 would be except instead of a game you get a movie!” Cut short that overly long battle against Bahamut and give us a bit more explanation behind our villains.

Speaking of villains, the Turks make a very large reappearance. Reno and Rude are fantastic throughout the entire movie and help to pick up the rest of the slack a lot. They aren’t quite the bad guys this time around, much like in the game. In face, one might even say they are heroes. The other Turks show up for a short bit too. Unfortunately, Tseng and Elena’s appearance only serves as one of the movies largest flaws and plot holes.

In the opening scene, we overhear a radio conversation between Elena, Tseng, and Reno. Elena and Tseng are attacked, we hear the battle but we see nothing since it takes place far below us and in fog. It’s a pretty nice tension effect. Later Kadaj tells off the Turk’s leader, who serves as lame plot hole number 2 but I’ll not go into detail on that. Anyway, Kadaj tells off the Turk’s leader and tosses down the bloody badges of Tseng and Elena. It is strongly implied both have been killed. This is a great plot device and helps show that despite his overly whineyness Kadaj is indeed quite sinister and capable of killing. The fact that the blood on the badges is one of only a couple of points where the movie has any blood makes it all the more apparent, Tseng and Elena are dead.

So what do they do? They show up, much like the rest of the Hero cast, completely out of nowhere to rescue their falling leader, then to stand in a group shot of the Turk’s later on near the end. They don’t say anything in the later half of the game and their return not only makes no sense but it completely kills the relevance of two previous strong scenes.

The writers at Square need to learn that bringing people back from the dead is not a good idea. Hell the writers of Japan need to learn this. Many games and anime unceremoniously bring dead characters back negating the impact of their deaths. Thankfully Aeris does not return. The plot has absolutely nothing to do with reviving Aeris and in fact had a lot to do with Cloud letting go of her and moving on with life (Dilly-dally shilly-shally?). Aeris does make several appearances though through visions. The voice of Yuna is used and it fits extremely well for the character.

While the plot doesn’t revolve around the revival of Aeris, it does revolve around the revival of another key character. The whole movie is essentially an excuse for Square to give us a modern CG battle between Cloud and Sephiroth. While Sephiroth is extremely bad ass in the films final conflict, his presence is poorly explained for anyone who hasn’t played the game.

One last high note. Materia is present in the film, though somewhat lightly. Its use is pretty well done. Instead of joining with weaponry the orbs are merged into the person themselves. There is even a vague explanation as to what they are.

And to keep things balanced, the events revolving around Cloud during the final moments of the film after the final battle are completely needless and stupid. It just comes as a really dumb ending for an overall lame movie. If you watch this film, watch it for the fight scenes. The plot is almost good but it’s filled with so many holes that don’t necessarily need filled but just flat out don’t need to be there.

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