Cinematic Flashback: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete (2009) Review

There was one SOLDIER named Sephiroth, who was better than the rest. But when he found out about the terrible experiments that made him, began to hate Shinra. And then, over time, he began to hate everything. Shinra, and the people against them. Sephiroth, who hated the planet so much that he wanted to make it go away. And the people who tried to stop him. There were a lot of battles. For every battle, there was more sadness. Someone I loved went back to the lifestream too. And then it came; the chosen day. In the end, the planet itself had to make the battle stop for good. The planet used the lifestream as a weapon and when it burst out of the earth, all the fighting, all the greed and sadness, everything was washed away. Sadness was the price to see it end. It’s been two years since they told me that and Jason’s Movie Blog’s “cinematic flashback” for Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete.

FINAL FANTASY VII: ADVENT CHILDREN COMPLETE

“Is it for the children, for a memory, or for himself?”

Director: Tetsuya Nomura and Takeshi Nozue

Writer: Kazushige Nojima and Brian Grey (English screenplay)

Starring: Steve Burton, Rachel Leigh Cook, Mena Suvari, George Newbern

Run Time: 126 minutes

Release Date: June 2nd, 2009 (North America Release)

Rated: PG-13

THE STORY


Two years after the events in “Final Fantasy VII”, a disease called “geostigma”, is spreading through the planet. this disease is believed to have been caused by the body fighting off foreign material that invaded the body two years earlier, at the end of “Final Fantasy VIIi”. guilt-ridden and haunted by his past, ex-soldier Cloud Strife has decided to live a secluded, solitary life away from his friends while maintaining “strife’s delivery service”, whose headquarters is located in Tifa Lockheart’s bar, the seventh heaven. Tifa’s bar serves as an orphanage for children stricken with geostigma. here, TIfa keeps an eye on Barret’s six-year-old daughter, Marlene, while Barret searches the planet for an alternative energy source to the planet’s energy, mako. one day, cloud receives a phone call from the former Shinra, Inc. president, Rufus, asking him for protection from a mysterious man named Kadaj. Kadaj, in the meantime, along with his brothers Loz and Yazoo, are searching for their “mother”, and seem to believe that cloud knows where to find her. meanwhile, Vincent Valentine has been wandering the planet gathering information on Kadaj’s scheme, and Cloud and his friends must come together again to fight these new enemies.

MY THOUGHTS


For the record, this review is gonna be based on Final Fantasy: Advent Children Complete (the extended version of the film). What can I say…i love the Final Fantasy video game franchise. I’ve loved the franchise and much of its games (more a fan of the old school JRPG games, so more of the lower number entries than some of the new ones). So, yes…. I’m fan of all things Chocobos, Moogles, various magic systems of Final Fantasy. Like many, Final Fantasy VII certainly has a special place in my heart that, while it wasn’t my first foray into the franchise, but it surely was one of the most memorable games of series (and still is). Of course, I remember being so eagerly waiting on every piece of news when it was announced that there was gonna be a Final Fantasy VII movie that took place after the game’s events as well as the fabled rumor of second showdown between Cloud and Sephiroth. With the release of Final Fantasy VII Remake for the PS4 being a hot topic for everyone currently, I decided to take a stroll back down memory lane and revisit what made Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete so intriguing and fun to watch. So, without further ado….

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete was directed by Tetsuya Nomura and Takeshi Nozue, with the former being character designer for the Final Fantasy series as well as the handling many of the Kingdom Hearts series (Square-Enix’s other popular video game franchise) and the latter being a part of being part of several Square-Enix titles (movie or video games director capacity). Together, both Nomura and Nozue collaborate on a story that serves a entertaining narrative that feels very much “in-line” with the spirt of the PlayStation game; finding Cloud still dealing with the events of the game (i.e. losing Aeris / Aerith) and the world healing from the game’s climatic ending. While there are some filler points in the narrative, Advent Children’s story is quite intriguing, with the notion of Kadaj and his brothers looking for Jenova’s head for a possible reunion with Sephiroth, and Cloud reluctantly returning to the fight. This, of course, leads to the feature’s main event, which sees Cloud fighting Sephiroth again and in awesome and exciting fashion. As one can imagine, Nomura and Nozue play up the nostalgia and fan service moments throughout the movie, which is definitely a treat to watch and for us (the viewers) to get lost in. Additionally, Advent Children Complete adds 25 more minutes to the feature, which is utilized to flesh out certain storylines (more in the first half) and a few extended sequences, including a few more cool shots in the climatic battle of Cloud vs. Sephiroth. I could go on and on about the movie, but you get what I’m saying, for Advent Children Complete is a solid companion piece to the original game….and I think many fans will agree with it.

In terms of visuals, Advent Children Complete enhances and enriches the CGI world of Final Fantasy VII into a CGI animated feature that’s amazing to look at. Along with the feature adding to its runtime, Nomura and Nozue update some of the film’s visual in certain areas, which are quite noticeable (at least to me) and definitely “updates” the story’s visuals in a better way. In terms of actual visuals, the movie looked (and still does) incredible. Of course, today’s Final Fantasy games have improved upon various cutscenes and movies (see Kingsglavies: Final Fantasy XV), but Advent Children Complete definitely was top notch and the best of CGI animation during its original release as the movie provided plenty of technical visual achievements in camera work, body movements, and fighting / action choreography wizardry. Just to see these character made more realistic rather than there blocky PlayStation video game character was simply amazing and rendering them in more believable CGI construct was beautiful. Plus, the cinematography work on Advent Children Complete is stunning and beautiful; rivaling some live-action movies of the 2000s. Lastly, the film’s score, which was done by Kenichiro Fukui, Keiji Kawamori, Tsuyoshi Sekito, and legendary Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu, deliver a phenomenal composition for the movie, which has plenty of fan-favorite Final Fantasy VII theme songs playing throughout (may of them rearranged and reimagine). Definitely one of personal favorite movie scores soundtracks Can’t say if it’s the best, but it’s definitely up there.

There were some minor criticisms that I have with the movie, which, while not derailing the feature, do somewhat take away from elements. Perhaps the more glaring problem is that the first half of the film seems a bit tedious. Sure, it sets a lot of things in motion and introduces / reintroduces the characters, but not a whole lot happens during this section as it becomes tedious and slightly boring. In addition, the character of Denzel, a new character in the Final Fantasy VII world, is pretty bland and boring. He certainly gets fleshed a bit more in Advent Children Complete than in this initial release, but his character is rather uninteresting, especially when compared to the rest. The same with Kadaj’s brothers (Loz and Yazoo). They certainly look cool, but not much beyond that. As a minor quibble, there were a few parts that I wished could’ve been better handled, including some of the various characters; mainly Cloud’s companions. I’m a big fan of Red XIII in the game and, while he’s in the movie, he’s pushed more to the side, and only has one line of dialogue.

Since I reviewing this movie for North America, I normally view the movie with the English dub voices and, for the most part, the voices are pretty good; bringing to life many of the Final Fantasy VII characters with voicework for the first time. Some of them are pretty good, especially Cloud (Steve Burton), Tifa (Rachel Leigh Cook), Aerith (Mena Suvari), Sephiroth (Greg Newborn) and Vincent (Rick Gomez) perfectly match their respective Final Fantasy VII character perfectly. That being said, some of them feel a tad wonky in their voices, which are most notable in Kadaj (Steve Staley), Loz (Fred Tatasciore), and Yazoo (Dave Wittenberg) and few others. Plus, the movie does have a few hiccups when it comes to matching the lip synching perfect as well as a few other standard awkward grunts and groans throughout (i.e. gasps of air breathing). However, it didn’t bother me as much.

As a whole, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is a satisfying feature film that works and delivers as an entertaining sequel to the original game as well as a promising companion to the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII collection. While some elements don’t exactly work (neither tedious or uninteresting) and its appeal is limited to its fanbase, the movie is bursting with callbacks and references to the original PlayStation game as well as serving up plenty of fan service moments that will surely make its Final Fantasy VII gamers glee with excitement. In addition, the Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete fleshes out certain characters and improved visuals; bringing out the true iteration of the story. A definite highly recommended for fans of Final Fantasy VII, especially those who grew up playing the PS One classic or the PS4 remake. Always remember….”For those who loved this world and knew friendly company therein: This reunion is for you.”

Cinematic Flashback Score: 4.3 Out of 5

Fun Fact: Cloud uses five noticeable limit breaks from the original video game. He uses Blade Bean when he is fighting Loz and Yazoo at the Forgotten City. Then he uses Braver when he is fighting Bahamut Sin. He uses Climhazzard to defeat Bahamut Sin. He uses Finishing Touch when fighting with Kadaj. Lastly, he uses Omnislash to defeat Sephiroth, which is also the attack he uses to defeat Sephiroth in the game.

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