Final Fantasy VII might just be the most influential instalment in the entire FF franchise. It’s not my personal favourite and the polygonal graphics certainly don’t hold up well compared to most of the other instalments, but it did have an epic story with a grand scale and some fantastic characters. Naturally, Square-Enix decided to take advantage of the game’s legacy with a prequel game, a sequel game and some film/OVA adaptations. Most of which were not good. This brings us to Advent Children, quite possibly the best received of all of those tie-ins. The film came out in 2005 with a slightly longer, complete version coming out in 2009. We’ll be looking at the complete version and asking a simple question. Does it hold up?
Two years after the events of VII, a strange disease called Geostigma is decimating the populace. With that to be concerned about, Rufus Shinra, who wasn’t quite dead, is approached by three silver-haired pretty boys clad in leather and looking for their mother. These are Kadaj, Loz & Yazoo, they call themselves remnants and are after Jenova. Obvious conclusion is obvious. With things starting to move elsewhere Cloud has gone missing due to his own Geostigma affliction.
The biggest issue with this film is just the ending. Everything wraps up far too nicely and easily where the narrative would have really benefited from a more bitter-sweet conclusion. It’s like they’re afraid to take some risks which is strange given that the source material had plenty of sad and downright depressing moments that added to its gravitas.
That being said, there are plenty of strong moments to Advent Children. The build up and pacing are both fantastic. What the story is building up to is pretty obvious, but it’s also compelling enough that you want to see the whole thing unfold. I will also give it credit for holding up pretty well as a sequel. It uses those elements that were already a part of the story and expands on them.
The main cast of VII returns, including Aerith & Zack who make their appearances in spirit form. They don’t have the same level of development as they did in VII, since that was a three disc game and this is a film that runs for less than two hours. That being said, they’re all recognisable and there are some strong character arcs. I will also give them credit for using Cait Sith just enough to get his character across but not enough for him to get to be a nuisance. Cloud in particular has an arc that centres around him learning to rely on his compatriots instead of trying to shoulder everything. The culmination of the whole thing comes up during an action sequence, but it actually works really well. The minor problem with the characters comes in the form of a group of small children. They show up, they have Geostigma and we’re supposed to feel sorry for them. Which doesn’t really work. I don’t know anything about these kids nor am I ever given a compelling reason to care. That being said, there are some strong character moments involving Marlene. So, you can’t say that having the children was a complete waste.
The animation in this is absolutely fantastic. The character designs are nicely upgraded. The action sequences are amazing. The game’s world comes across as lively and vivid, with large crowds and sprawling landscapes.
It had to be quite the challenge to take characters this iconic and choose just the right actors for them. Fortunately, Square Enix did a pretty stellar job in that department. Sakurai Takahiro, the voice of Rockman X & Kururugi Suzaku, is fantastic as Cloud Strife. Morikawa Toshiyuki gives a strong performance as the One-winged angel himself. Really, there are no bad performances in this. The music is superb, including an excellent rendition of the one-winged angel theme.
There isn’t any in this.
Advent Children holds up remarkably well, actually. That being said, it’s really for fans of the game. Especially since the character investment relies heavily on you already knowing Cloud, Tifa and the others. You can get the gist of the characters and understand what’s happening without having played the game, but there’s not much reason to be invested in it. For FF VII fans, it’s an opportunity to see the characters you know and love in a new adventure with a compelling story in its own right. As well as possessing music, voice acting and artwork that are all top-notch. My final rating is going to stand at an 8/10. Tomorrow I’ll forge ahead with film festival week with a review of Love Live: The School Idol film.