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Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Anime Review

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Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

Genre: Science Fiction Fantasy
Director: Tetsuya Nomura
Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Duration: One movie – 101 Minutes
Production Creation: 2005

Plot Synopsis

Based on the supremely successful Playstation Role-Playing Game Final Fantasy VII, Advent Children begins the story two years after the fall of the main villain of that game, Sephiroth. With the planet now trying to find it’s feet and restore itself after the damage that Sephiroth and the Shin-Ra Company dealt to it, many of the younger children find themselves infected by a strange new disease, known as Geostigma.

Blaming himself for the death of his close friend Aerith Gainsborough during the struggle to defeat Sephiroth, Cloud Strife now lives a quieter life as a deliveryman, thinking that he is no good to help anybody else, he keeps himself to himself. However, a trio of mysterious silver haired men appear, seeking the head of Jenova, the alien abomination which spawned Sephiroth. Stopping at nothing and even going as far as to infect the fragile minds of the diseased children, these men wish to create a reunion with their Mother, Jenova, so that they may resurrect a defeated evil from the past.

Now Cloud must take up his sword and steel his confidence once more, as it will take everything he can give and also the help of all his friends, to counter this final and most deadly threat to the planet.

The Review

Every time I see an anime based on a computer game, I wince, especially if it’s based on Final Fantasy. Legend of the Crystals, FF: Unlimited and Spirits Within have all been lackluster adaptations of a series that is overflowing with great characters, ideas and deep, compelling storylines.

How does Advent Children fare though? Well I’ll keep it simple, if you’re a Final Fantasy fan, your day has arrived, if not, prepare to be subtly alienated by the plot and dazzled by the oooh pretty! CG.

Those of you reading this who fall into the latter category will find plenty to enjoy and cherish here. Seriously, being a FFVII fan myself, I got a whole lot from this as from a fan’s point of view everything that I could have wanted was pretty much there. All your favourite characters are here brought to life in vividly animated and lushly detailed CG, complete with a lot of locations from the game and of course the trademark battles, limit breaks, summons and much more.

The plot, while somewhat weak by normal standards, is given a fairly wide concession by FF fans as everything speeds along at a frenetic pace. We understand and ‘get’ what the characters are talking about when they harp on about things like ‘Jenova’s Reunion’ and ‘Materia’ and stuff like that, poor old average Joe though, has no idea whatsoever, he’s just there for the ride. While the amazing CG and hyper kinetic battle sequences will keep non fans entertained, it’s clear that from the wafery plot which relies on a past understanding of the FF7 game, that this was a work for those who love the game and as such, isn’t for the uninitiated.

The characters also, demand a degree of understanding that would only come from the game itself, as there is little to no exposition here for any of them. The writing also isn’t exceptionally brilliant either, as it seems that the scenes where there isn’t any fighting merely serves as a brief vehicle to get the audience to the scenes where they are.

Something of note though, is that on the DVD release Square-Enix have seen fir to include a nice little extra called Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII, which is basically a story digest of the key plot points in that game. While moderately informative, those who have not played the game will unlikely take the time to immerse themselves in FF: VII lore and those that have played the game will have no use for it anyway. This is quite literally a stick of gum solution to the problem of making a film for a specific audience.

As we all know though, what has gotten the movie the coverage it has isn’t due to it’s plot or characters (unless obviously you’re a big fan in which case you wont really mind about the plot) but instead it’s quality shines through in the visuals, the audio and of course, those awesome battle sequences.

Never up until now had I seen CG used so expertly not just to render those crazy battle sequences (multi sword battles on turbo bikes with the kind of gravity defiance that Chinese action cinema would be jealous of) but also quiet more tranquil moments, where you can make out minute reflections in the characters eyes, imperfections in the skin, and even fine follicles of hair.

I will go out on a limb here and just say that this the best example of CG I’ve seen to date, no it’s not done in a hyper realistic like Spirits Within, but then again it was never meant to be as it was always meant to be larger than life (and thankfully CG techniques have moved on since Spirits Within because we no longer have the ‘dead eyed doll’ look anymore).

The music too deserves equal praise, being a very pleasing and deftly composed mix of metal, electronica, rock and opera. Nobuo Uematsu, who was also the composer for the original game, handles the duties here and deserves full credit for the tremendous musical score that he has put together for this movie.

The bottom line is that if you’re an FF fan, you will love this more than your own mother, if you’re not, then Square-Enix haven’t catered for you as all you’re going to get is a bunch of really cool CG action scenes strung together loosely by a weak plot with characters that you don’t know or care about. Personally being an FF fan, I love it, and fans of action cinema will probably get something from it too.
To those two audiences I say, give it a shot, to the rest of you either get involved with the original game or give the movie a miss.

Ratings Summary

Animation: A+
Art: A+
Music: A
Content: B-

Overall: B+

Review by: John-Paul Jones

Suitability for children

There are gun fights, fist fights and sword fights galore. There are a few cuts but no real blood as such. Still the intensity of the fights doesn’t make this suitable for the very young. Parental Guidance is recommended.

If you liked this why not try…

Appleseed (2004) – Geneon Entertainment USA

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Written by bitsnark

October 12, 2008 at 9:30 am

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