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2-disc dvd

Director: Tetsuya Nomura; Release Date: February 13, 2007

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4 ½ Stars: JAW-Dropping CGI Animation Blends Extreme Fighting, Drama and Epic Fantasy!

  • Jul 8, 2009
Rating:
+4
One of the most influential RPGs in recent memory is the Final Fantasy franchise that has spawned numerous installments that are highly popular in Asia, Europe and the U.S. While it isn’t exactly a necessity to have played the video game for one to fully appreciate the beauty of Tetsuya Nomura and Takeshi Nozue’s 2005 pure CGI-animated film “FINAL FANTASY VII: Advent Children”, it would definitely be an advantage since the film takes off 2 years after the game ends. For those who haven’t played the game, the film is still a groundbreaking achievement in CGI animation and features of Japanese anime designs. Yes, I am going out on a limb to say this; it dwarfs the animation that we have gotten used to from so-called animation giant PIXAR studios (Yes, I said it). Oh, this film is totally unrelated to “Final Fantasy Spirits Within”.
 
I will have to give a small background on the events of the game. The film does give the viewer some background, but I am going to do it anyway. The world of Final Fantasy is full of mysticism and magic, science and technology. The two faces are always at odds with one another that it almost appears to be a war between the planet and technology. In the world of Midgar, a corporation called Shin-Ra had found a way to harness the energy of the life stream, which is called Mako and to turn it into power. It is the source of the planet’s life energy, and provides life to its inhabitants. When one passes on, his or her life source is returned to it and life goes on; think of the Mako as the ‘cycle of life’. Shin-Ra discovers that there is such a land where Mako is rampant and only Cetras are able to find it, Aerith is the supposed last one of her kind.

               Razoo

             with old sword

             Aerith
 
Cloud Strife is a member of Shin-Ra’s SOLDIER unit as well as other characters who were introduced such as Tifa, Barret, Sid, Yuffie, Vincent, Red XIII and Cait Sith. They all fight for the welfare of the planet against a being called Sephiroth and an organism from another planet called Jenova. This is where the plot becomes complex as Sephiroth is found as having genes derived from Jenova. Also Cloud himself is a product of the Jenova gene as a form of cloning if you will. Now as the game moves along, Sephiroth has evil intentions of using black materia to summon a huge meteor to destroy the planet. Materia is an element that gives its user special powers, the element is believed to be a byproduct of the life stream and Mako. Anyway, our heroes come together to stop the machinations of Sephiroth but not before he murders Aerith in cold blood. Obviously our heroes managed to defeat Sephiroth or else we wouldn’t be privy to this film…or are their problems just beginning?
 
“Final Fantasy VII Advent Children” takes off two years after the events of the video game. While Sephiroth’s threat has been vanquished, things are still very bleak. The once-great city is now in shambles and the Shin-Ra corporation is now no longer in existence. There is also a new problem in Midgar, a sickness called “Geostigma” has infected thousands of children across the world. There is no known cure for the disease that usually ends in pain and death.
 
In this city, Tifa Lockhart (Ayumi Ito) has opened a bar and operates a delivery service with Cloud (Takahiro Sakurai). They have also provided shelter to Barret’s daughter Marlene (Miyu Tsuzurahara) and a geostigma-stricken child named Denzel (Kyosuke Ikeda). Cloud apparently hasn’t come home in a long while, as we find him in a barren area of the city, fighting off a trio of powerful beings; Kadaj (Shotaro Murikubo), Loz (Kenji Nomura) and Yazoo (Yuji Kishi). The trio can summon shadow monsters and are able to match Cloud in combat. Who are these three who appear to call Cloud ‘brother’, and also has the same type of energy signature as judged by the color of their eyes? They are also obviously related to the menace of Sephiroth whose goal is to bring about Jenova ‘REUNION’. Also the founder of Shin-Ra is found very much alive and is determined to atone for his past sins, that proves to be the catalyst for the battle between Cloud and Kadaj--but it appears Cloud is a lot weaker than before, and is only a shadow of his former self. Cloud is infected with ‘Geostigma’…


 
Anyone who had played the game can attest to my claim that the death of Aerith is one of the most tragic events in the game. Her death set the tone for the rest of the game’s story and made Cloud’s quest to save the world more of a cry for vengeance. Since the events of the game, Cloud had become more isolated and withdrawn, the screenplay shows him living in a church gathering flowers is a true testament to the pain that Cloud is bearing for his loss. I liked the fact that director Nomura took the time to expose Cloud as a shadow of his former self. It makes him more attached to the events of the game, and gives him a sense of humanity. The film’s emotional side also provides a balance to the film’s awesome fight sequences. The film never forgets to initialize a mood and an atmosphere--it is easy to invest in Cloud’s character since he has to overcome his own personal demons to overcome this new threat brought about by Kadaj who is a vassal for Sephiroth. The film has scenes that go deep into Cloud’s psyche, as he remembers, and expresses pain for Aerith’s death. While some may see such scenes a little too sentimental, keep in mind that Cloud himself lost a part of himself, and sees himself as undeserving of anything good--nor do anything right. Cloud needs to forgive himself. 

          Cloud

                               Vincent
 
Enough about Cloud, we see classic Final Fantasy VII characters that would give its fans a great sense of nostalgia, it is such a treat for fans to see the old gang back together. There are some differences to their appearances such as Cloud’s “Daytona” motorcycle has been replaced by a bike more reminiscent of Akira--and oh boy, does Cloud carry a lot more swords! The one minor issue I have with the screenplay is the fact that aside from Tifa and Vincent, the other characters seemed to be minor plot devices and they play such a small part in the film’s big picture. However, there may be hope for us, since there is such as longer version such as “Final Fantasy Advent Children” Complete. (Which I will review much later) Thankfully, as moody and emotional the film is, it does have doses of humor as embodied by Reno and Rude; their scenes of satire does lighten the mood a bit.
 
One element that gives the film its sense of awesomeness is the exquisitely executed battle sequences. There are many fights in the film--even Tifa gets to rumble with Loz in a very cool church fight. The fights are nicely placed around the film’s screenplay to keep the viewer interested; there is just nothing better than cool, stylish brawls to keep us invested in the film. Some may say that some encounters resemble the ‘Matrix’ but remember, the Japanese have been doing this type of battles longer than the Wachowski brothers have in their Hollywood movie. The fights blend the use of magic, martial arts and awesome swordplay--it is fantastic action to be sure, but they aren’t really realistic. I also fancied the weapons being used by our combatants, they are obviously advancements in technology made through the enhancements of magic. There are a lot of fight sequences to be had with the film, as we see Cloud and company engage a huge mystical dragon, the tunnel fight is destined to be included in the annals of the coolest fights ever filmed. The final encounter between Cloud and Kadaj and Sephiroth also matches the quality of the rest of the fight scenes.

               Tifa underfire

           sephiroth
 
I have mentioned that the animation in “Advent Children” trumps the ones that Pixar can offer--Square-Enix has definitely outdone themselves. Given its emotional nature, the film isn’t exactly for kids and more meant for fans and adults. The skin tone, the fluid motion, the reflections, the texture of the material and light sources; wool looks wool, skin looks like skin, metal is metal, shiny is shiny, clothes mimic the body's movements--SquareEnix’s CGI animation is just stunningly beautiful and breathtaking--it is a work of true art. The characters look photo-realistic and doesn’t have the over-expressive eyes seen in the game. Not that the animated facial features lack emotion, look at the eyes, it is just overflowing with different streams of emotion. The movements are also very fluid and never stiff; the motion capture is just stellar.
 
I am such a fan of the game but I do have to point out that the film isn’t perfect. While the film does make an effort to give a background of previous events, one may feel a bit alienated at times if you have no prior knowledge of the previous comings and goings; one may feel the film’s small emotional sequences to be a bit of a drag. “Final Fantasy VII Advent Children” is definitely aimed at its fans, but no one can deny that the film is a TRUE technological marvel. The action, the jaw-dropping CGI animation is just such a sight to see. To Nomura’s credit, it doesn’t get too over zealous with itself, and manages to strike a compelling story that balances its eye candy.
 
As a fan of the Playstation game, I was blown away the very first time I saw this movie. The characters, this world that blends magic and mysticism, science and technology, action and drama is just enthralling and awe-inspiring. The film may be a bit light in its storytelling, but the extreme action is definitely one for the senses. I think I can safely say that “Final Fantasy Advent Children” is the BEST CGI-animated video-game themed movie ever made.
 
Highly Recommended! [4 ½ Stars]
 
Note: Watching the film in its original Japanese Language is advisable.

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        Kadaj

        the gang

limited edition Cloud on Bike Cloud Aerith Tifa underfire Dvd 2-disc Cloud with old sword Vincent Tifa Lockhart sephiroth Razoo Kadaj the gang

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August 28, 2010
I'm not a big fan of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.  it's a movie that, as far as I was concerned, was all flash and no substance.  The story hardly gets any focus and I just wasn't feeling any sort of emotional pull whatsoever.  The characters return for mere cameos more so than anything else (were they even necessary to include in the movie at all?) and most of the dialog (even through subtitles) is just awful.  I like the movie as a technical achievement (though comparing to PIXAR is a little unfair, I think... PIXAR's art style requires them to make sure the children watching have the sense that it's a cartoon... Advent Children, by comparison is aimed at an older audience so it looks more real because it's supposed to be more real). 

I don't know.  It's one of those movies I can watch, but it seems like one of those movies that people enjoy because of the cool factor.  I have a hard time watching a movie like Advent Children because the movie clearly wants to tell a good story... but it just sort of forgets about it at some point.  It's a technological achievement and I hope to see more movies that utilize the capabilities, but I'm hoping most of them won't make the mistake Advent Children does and think it means they can leave the story behind simply because it's gorgeous. 
August 28, 2010
Well, I cannot say that I disagree with you that this one is about flash and substance. (I actually need to review the extended complete cut still on Blu ray) but it is quite a big style LOL! The story on this one is just well...aimed for those who played the game, and the emotion comes from the unspoken silence that is the stuff of Japanese anime. Anime goes "ask yourself for the motivations" while American filmmakers often show the emotions and motivations.

Yeah, you may be right about the Pixar bit--I like Pixar, (but for me their storytelling just borders around the same formula save for some others). I compared the animation because as I've worked in CGI some years ago, I can tell Pixar uses the same code which makes their characters have similar shapes and features (this may actually be intended since cartooning has to have profound similarities) and their reluctance to mimic textures is a huge minus (skin tone and clothes are often alike, Toy Story 3 is a huge example of failing with textures). They don't need to look cool in the sense for an older audience, but they have to show some real art in the artform called animation. Pixar is a business while anime for the Japanese is an art.

This one had a huge push up in points (that resulted with me rounding up the 4.5 to 5) because of the technology behind it; it was a tribute to gaming and Final Fantasy. It was a display of its advancements in technology. I agree, there should be more of a story, but this was a series as collected in the huge collection in Japan. We in the U.S. only got the SE until the boxed set got released and now the extended Blu-ray. Now that the makers have built the proper technology (5 years in the making), then maybe they can concentrate on making the proper story.
September 08, 2010
Btw, I just rewatched the "Complete" edition and I've decided to round down my 4.5 rating on this one; since that was undoubtedly the superior film. I think I'll review it real soon...
 
January 20, 2010
I've been interested in this film ever since I saw a clip of it a while back, and your review may have just sealed the deal. I haven't played any of the games, but perhaps this film may inspire me to pick one up. Thanks for the in-depth review.
January 20, 2010
Thanks! If you have Blu-ray capability, check out the FF VII Complete version of the movie. It is a lot better with added scenes that fleshes things out and more intense battle scenes...
January 20, 2010
I do have a Blu-Ray/DVD player, so I will definitely do that.
 
October 08, 2009
Honestly, were I to review this film, I fear my review would likely mimic yours too closely to warrant posting. I haven't read Trashie's yet (but will do so now) but suspect that yours and my taste are paralleled on this one. Oh and you were right, the Japanese dialog track adds such an incredible element to the material. Everyone NEEDS to try the Japanese dialog regardless of whether they've done the English version or not.
 
July 08, 2009
Nice review man. Its funny on your final note that you suggest watching it in its original japanese language. The first time I watched it, it was in japanese with no subtitles and I don't know a lick of japanese. But I was amazed and entertained by the graphics and the fight scenes. About a year later, I watched it on netflix streaming with english dubbed. It was so bad, that I now refuse to watch any japanese anime with english dubs. It just feels so unnatural with english voices. Hopefully, I'll have time to watch it with english subs.
July 09, 2009
I know what you mean, bud. The Japanese language track is the way to go! An anime film loses a lot of its mood when the language is too Americanized. I do however, prefer some in English such as "Le Chevalier De'eon" or something like that. Hey, I know you're a martial arts buff, you check out my write up for "Fighter in the Wind"? You may have but I didn't see your comment...
July 09, 2009
Yea there was a few that I didn't mind the English dubs in like Berserk for some reason. I think its cause of the medieval type setting. As for Fighter in the Wind, I haven't read your review on it yet or ever heard of it before. I'll check out what you have to say about it sometime after work. Thanx for the info
 
July 08, 2009
Bravo Woop! This is a fine piece of entertainment reviewing right here. I can say this as alas this is a movie I've enjoyed myself. To be honest, I haven't tried the Japanese dialog track yet (but will now). Again well done! By the way I got the Gungrave boxset today. Have you seen that one yet? It sounds like something you might enjoy.
July 08, 2009
Thanks, bud! This is among the very best in Japanese CGI animation and it would be a farce that a film such as this didn't have even one  review in this site. The Japanese dialogue is indeed better! I have seen about 10-12 episodes of Gungrave before I went on an anime dry spell. I'll wait for your review!! Thanks for the read, buddy!
 
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More Final Fantasy VII: Advent Chil... reviews
review by . August 26, 2009
I remember playing Final Fantasy VII when it first came out in 1997. I was eleven years old. The game was one of the greatest I ever played. I am now twenty two  going on twenty three and I still play through it constantly. The storyline was divine (albeit, didn't completely come together in the end), the characters memorable, and it still has one of the most memorable video game moments in history. When one of your main characters is killed off permanently with no way to revive said character. …
review by . January 11, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Tifa looks hotter than Jessica Alba     Cons: HOW did the game's designers forget to write a story?     The Bottom Line: Stick to the game.     Ten years ago, Final Fantasy VII would have been released as a movie and its movie sequel, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children would have been the video game. It's a pretty unusual case: The video game should have been a movie and the movie should have been a video game. The thing that's really …
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Wiki

This computer animated film picks up where the Playstation FINAL FANTASY VII video game left off. Cloud, the hero of the game, has retired into seclusion, but when a mysterious and lethal disease known as Geostigma begins to spread across the planet, and three powerful, villainous children appear, he reluctantly emerges to face the new and mysterious threats. Featuring some of the most spectacularly lavish computer graphics ever created, ADVENT CHILDREN continues the complex and compelling tradition that has made the Final Fantasy series one of the most popular games of all time.
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Release Date: 2005
MPAA Rating: PG-13

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