Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Anime Review
ファイナルファンタジー VII: アドベントチルドレン
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
Square / Sony
US Release By
Sci Fi/Fantasy RPG Spinoff
As chronicled in the PSX game Final Fantasy 7, mercenary warrior Cloud Strife and his band of do-gooders have successfully stopped Sephiroth's plans to destroy the world. But all is not well. The world is still in shambles and to make things worse, a deadly new disease called Geostigma has started to spread, and no cure is in sight.
Pursuing what might be a job lead, Cloud finds himself propositioned by none other than his old enemy: the now-defunct Shinra Company. His former employers have disturbing news; A gang of superpowered warriors are seeking the remains of the alien entity Jenova to continue what Sephiroth had started. Something that even the greedy and opportunistic Shinra dread.
Listen carefully and you can hear sighs of relief and screams of joy from fans of Final Fantasy 7 all around the world. For the uninitiated, Final Fantasy 7 (a massively popular RPG for the PSX that pretty much paved the way for cinematic RPGs) ended on an ambiguous note very open to speculation, and boy did the fans speculate. The movie puts to rest the question of what really happened to Cloud and co. after they stopped the meteor from hitting the planet.
Now that I think about it, the previous paragraph says a lot about the nature of this movie; It's a movie intended for FF7 fans. The movie does make a half-hearted attempt at getting people who have never played FF7 up to speed, but non-players will miss out on a lot of plot elements and references. Heck, people who have played FF7 but didn't unlock all of its secret characters and story lines (Zack, anyone?) will be scratching their heads at some point.
In a way, I think this is Squaresoft's way of saying: "Hey FF7 fans, thanks for your loyalty. Have some candy." Because if there's one word that you can use to describe FF7:AC it's "Fan Service." (Okay that's two words, but you get the idea.)
Squaresoft has long been a powerhouse in the CG cinematics business, and the pedigree shows. FF7:AC has some of the most gorgeous CG to ever grace a screen. Long gone are the days of plasticy-looking characters with Popeye arms; here they're replaced by semi-photorealistic characters that interact in breathtakingly beautiful scenery. Even Cloud's famous spiky hairdo looks realistic and physically possible this time around (if you use tons of industrial-strength hair gel that is).
The action sequences, which are (next to the movie's heritage) the real draw, are extremely well choreographed and follow the school of packing as many WOW! moments as possible in a fight scene, while Cloud, Tifa and the rest use their signature moves from the game in ways that would make any FF7 fan drool. Fans of the all-too-brief motorcycle sequence in the game should also rejoice at the movie's own motorcycle-centric battle scene. The music plays along well with many familiar-sounding pieces getting the big-screen treatment. An electric guitar version of "One Winged Angel" (Sephiroth's final battle theme) is especially noteworthy.
If you've noticed a trend where I mention FF7 fans every other sentence, then you've hit the "catch" of FF7:AC. While fans of FF7 will be in Tifa's Seventh Heaven (Ah how clever I am, another reference that only FF7 fans will get!), the rest of the populace will find less to like. Sure the visuals are gorgeous and the fights entertaining, but that's it. The story is paper thin and will probably make little sense to those unfamiliar with the game's backstory. On the other hand, the movie is simply packed with references to the game that fans will most likely enjoy (keep an ear out for a cameo of the famous Final Fantasy victory chime!).
So, for fans of FF7 this is a no-brainer purchase (finally, a good Final Fantasy movie!); for other people this is enjoyable if short and somewhat shallow CG eye candy. Oh, and don't forget to visit the Nibelheim library in the basement during Disc 3 of the game to get the low-down on who Zack is if you haven't already :)
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Notes and Trivia
The film, if it's not already obvious, is a follow-up to Final Fantasy VII, the inordinately popular Square RPG for the PlayStation (it, like a couple of other Final Fantasy games, was also released for Windows, though that version apparently did not sell well).
US DVD Review
The 2-disc special edition set from Sony Pictures features the film in both Japanese and English with your choice of English, Spanish, or French subtitles. The special features it lists--a full DVD worth--are a featurette about the original game, a making of featurette, deleted scenes, footage of its appearance at the Venice Film Festival, and more. The Collectors box set edition adds a book of bonus stuff, a physical copy of the script, and some postcards to a fancier box with what appears to be the same two discs.
There is also an earlier DVD release that doesn't include the 2nd disc of bonus materials, and a Blu-ray edition that appears to have the full set of extra stuff in addition to a high-def video transfer.
Rated PG-13 "For Sequences of Intense Sci-Fi Action Violence," and indeed 13-up is about right.
Violence: 2 - People fight with swords, guns and fists, but with surprisingly low blood spray.
Nudity: 1 - Tifa maintains her sexy reputation without showing inappropriate skin.
Sex/Mature Themes: 0 - Sorry fans. Cloud is as useless as ever! :)
Language: 1 - FF7 was one of the first games to feature the word "damn" and it maintains its level of mild expletives.
Staff & Cast
Original Japanese Cast
Cloud Strife: Takahiro Sakurai
Aerith Gainsborough: Maaya Sakamoto
Tifa Lockhart: Ayumi Ito
Kadaj Morikubo: Shotaro Morikubo
Reno: Keiji Fujiwara
Rude: Taiten Kusunoki
Yazoo: Yuuji Kishi
Loz: Kenji Nomura
Vincent Valentine: Shogo Suzuki
Barret Wallace: Masahiro Kobayashi
Cid Highwind: Kazuyuki Yama
Yuffie Kisaragi: Yumi Kakazu
Cait Sith: Hideo Ishikawa
Red XIII: Masachika Ichimura
Marlene Wallace: Miyuu Tsuzuhara
Denzel: Kyosuke Ikeda
Tseng: Junichi Suwabe
Elena: Megumi Toyoguchi
Reeve Tuesti: Banjou Ginga
Zack: Kenichi Suzumura
Rufus Shinra: Toru Ookawa
Sephiroth: Toshiyuki Morikawa
English Dub Cast
Cloud Strife: Steve Burton
Aerith Gainsborough: Mena Suvari
Tifa Lockhart: Rachael Leigh Cook
Kadaj: Steve Staley
Rufus Shinra: Wally Wingert
Reno: Quinton Flynn
Rude: Crispin Freeman
Yazoo: Dave Wittenberg
Loz: Fred Tatasciore
Vincent Valentine: Steven Jay Blum
Barret Wallace: Beau Billingslea
Cid Highwind: Chris Edgerly
Yuffie Kisaragi: Christy Carlson Romano
Cait Sith: Greg Ellis
Red XIII: Liam O'Brien
Marlene Wallace: Grace Rolek
Denzel: Benjamin Bryan
Tseng: Ryun Yu
Reeve Tuesti: Jamieson Price
Zack: Rick Gomez
Sephiroth: George Newbern
Original Music by: Nobuo Uematsu, Kenichiro Fukui, Kyosuke Himuro (song "Calling"), Keiji Kawamori, Tsuyoshi Sekito
Directed by: Tetsuya Nomura, Takeshi Nozue (co-director)
The film is available in North America from Sony Pictures (Columbia Home Video) on bilingual Blu-ray, a bilingual 2-disc special edition (the second disc is entirely bonus material), and a 2-disc collectors box set that also includes a book, script, and postcards. Was previously available on a single-disc bilingual DVD version and bilingual UMD for the PSP.