I watched Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children almost the moment it was leaked. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I devoted a monstrous amount of time to FFVII in my early teens, seeing every last scene in the game (although I never bothered to play it so that Cloud would take Tifa to the Golden Saucer. Yuffie and Barrett, yes, but Tifa? Meh. Even though they ended up together, ring and all!). I spent my days reading various speculations on the ending and even having my own little site with what would now be called crack fanart comics. So I was understandably quite excited by the prospect of Advent Children.
CG still has a long way to go before it looks truly real, but the graphics displayed here are phenomenal. Beautiful stuff, with some daring directorial decisions. The early fight scenes seem a bit clunky to me, and not all the animation is convincing, but by the time the whole gang was reassembled to fight the Bahamut-like summoned creature, I was so captivated that I didn’t care. That scene had me grinning for its entire length. Even Cait Sith made an appearance!
Set two years after the end of the game (I guess Red XIII just ages badly!), human life goes on as normal, despite the intervention of the life stream. However, many people have been infected by the cells of Genova, giving them a disease called Geostigma, giving disturbing visions and scars. Three men have apparently received more of Jenova’s cells than others, as well as being 'remnants' of Sephiroth thanks apparently to his strong will refusing to be absorbed. These men, led by Kadaj, assemble everyone with Jenova’s cells in order to have a ‘reunion’, which will heal them, or bring back Sephiroth, or stop them making angsty nonsensical speeches, or something. Honestly, the plot barely exists: it’s just a loose framework in order to link one fight scene to the next. For this reason, it’s not a great film, but its entire purpose seems to be to give a thrill to fans like me – and in this, it succeeds admirably.
Snazzy graphics, overlong and overblown fight scenes, lots of psychobabble and plot incoherence are exactly what I was expecting from a FFVII movie. And if it made little sense to a devotee of the game like me, to the uninitiated it would surely be an hour and a half of utter nonsense. Cloud says ‘I pity you, who understands nothing’ - but I can't help but feel he's talking to the audience as a whole.
Not too impressed by how totally useless the Turks were, and it was a shame they didn't have an updated version of their theme, which was always damn cool. Still, an in-joke involving a ringtone really made me giggle.
Nice to watch something from Japan where the characters, to my eye at least, actually look Japanese. Albeit all Japanese models and boy band members. Oh, and Vincent rocks my socks, clocks and even my box. And I love Yuffie, too. They need more screen time!
Overall, highly enjoyable just for the fact that I could see well-loved characters in glorious CG. Otherwise, not great.
(originally written 13.9.05)