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Blu-ray Review: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete

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Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete is at the same time blindingly brilliant and horrendously dull. The computer animated spectacle — and make no mistake, it is a spectacle — takes place two years after the events that occurred in the video game Final Fantasy VII. The game's success — it was hailed by many as a masterpiece of gaming — encouraged the creators to go out and spawn spin-off titles in the same universe and then to create Advent Children direct-to-DVD and now to create an updated and expanded Advent Children for Blu-ray.

Starting with the good, the animators in Advent Children Complete have created a world that is ultra-detailed and in some shots one might be convinced that what they are seeing is real. Not having seen the DVD version, I can't state how much of a leap forward the Blu-ray release is, but it does look absolutely incredible. The graphics are sharp and clean, the blacks rich, the textures unbelievably well-defined, and the range and subtly of the colors incredible. One could spend the entire two-hour feature marveling at the hair the characters sport. Sadly, the facial expressions are somewhat lacking when compared to the rest of the detail. Additionally, the sound is less outstanding. While it is 5.1 channel, for battles that seem to range all around the viewer, the effects seem, disconcertingly, to remain fixed mainly in the front speakers.

As the film is based on a video game, or at the very least an outgrowth of one, the fighting scenes are what truly stand out in it. They are certainly in no way whatsoever realistic — the physics of the universe the characters inhabit is vastly different from the physics of our universe — but that doesn't make them any less marvelous to watch.

Then there's the bad — the story. It is a massive disappointment. It's not that it plays out merely as bad science fiction, it plays out as bad science fiction that is completely incomprehensible to anyone who has not played Final Fantasy VII either recently (it came out in 1997 for the original Playstation) or a good memory of it. Without that, the viewer will either spend much of the movie trying to piece together what is happening or simply give up on it and focus on the visuals.

I could try to delve into the narrative here and explain all about Cloud and how he killed Sephiroth, what the deal with Geostigma is, what Rufus Shinra has to do with it all, which is tied up with why the planet they live on is in disarray, who Kadaj is, and why Kadaj is searching for his mother, but it wouldn't really make very much sense. If somehow it did make sense that would be a pretty good indication that I'd spent far too long going into it all or that you knew the whole story before I began explaining it.

Fortunately, the Blu-ray includes as bonus features a nearly 24-minute digest of what took place in the original game and an almost 30-minute synopsis of what took place in Final Fantasy VII Compilation, which is the name given to the spin-off titles in the same world. If one dares to venture into Advent Children Complete with a desire to understand what is taking place in the film they need the requisite information contained in these synopses. Also included on the Blu-ray is "On the Way to a Smile – Episode: Denzel" which gives background information on another of the characters in the movie, and while not essential viewing, it does help one understand Denzel's point of view in the film.

It is not wrong to necessarily expect an audience member to have some sort of background knowledge when sitting down to watch a film or television show but unfortunately, the amount of knowledge required here is just too great for something that is, after all, the first film. What the creators of this movie have ended up with is a truly dazzling and dizzying world both in terms of the visuals and the story — the visuals for how amazing they truly are, and the story for how perplexing and indecipherable it is.

The Blu-ray release also features various Advent Children trailers and a trailer for the upcoming game Final Fantasy XIII. Anyone who has ever ventured into an RPG game will be impressed by what they see there.

Big fans of Final Fantasy VII and its various spin-offs will undoubtedly love Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete and all the extra bonus goodies it has to offer in its expanded format. Everyone else will undoubtedly be impressed by the animation and left dumbfounded at the absurdity of the tale. Essentially, it's just a non-interactive video game, and viewed in that context perhaps it does deliver. Those looking for a movie, though, will not be impressed.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
  • Kyle

    On the Way to a Smile Episode: DENZEL. Not DANIEL. I wish someone who knew of this universe better had reviewed it. Thanks.

  • Josh Lasser

    Correction noted.

  • Of course, the point being made in the review is exactly the one you make in your comment – it’s all incomprehensible to people not completely immersed in the culture of the game and it’s follow-ups. I played the game when it was first released, but haven’t thought of it since. Consequently, the movie was nearly impossible to figure out.

  • Shane Coy

    Of course someone who has never played the original FF7 isn’t going to be able to understand this movie. This movie is the story of FF7 CONTINUED that picks up 2 years later after the end of FF7. So don’t give this great movie a bad rating just because you don’t have the common sense to realize that this isn’t a whole new different movie or story, it’s a continuation of FF7’s story.

  • Shane Coy

    PS- You should know your shit and all the details on a movie that belongs to a series before you review it

  • jake

    This review is awful…this movie is a continuation of the FFVII game, that (litterally) millions of people played. It is heralded as one of the greatest games ever made, and brought tons of people in to the world of RPG’s. To one of those millions that enjoyed the game, and subsequetly this movie, your review comes across as woefully ignorant.

  • Jacen

    This is like a caveman reviewing TV. It just doesnt make sense. The story was very well done, it followed through and made a complete continuation (

  • Derek

    [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor] You start off watching what is basically known as final fantasy VII part 2 and you bitch because you don’t know what the hell is going on even though you don’t know the story line of the first part? [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor] That’s like watching the last movie of Star Wars and complaining because you don’t know what was going on. [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

  • Actually, as you’ll see if you read the comments, I did play the original game, and I still didn’t know what was happening.

  • Joe

    I have to admit, even I havent played the first Final Fantasy for years, and plan on playing it again on the PSN now that it is out. But despite that, Advent Children complete was a remarkable movie and a beautiful storyline, but lets also remember that the movie was made only for the fans and all the fans loved it. Im not saying that you are not a fan of it, but I dont believe you fully understood the first game well enough to give a review to its sequal. No disrespect but next time if you do a review get all your facts straight before you do it, other wise keep it to yourself.

  • laura

    take your review off. It stinks

  • Anthony

    I think this review is correct in terms of the movie looking great, but being impossible to understand if you never played the game. But one has to take into consideration that the main reason why they made the movie was to continue and end the story of the original game. Also the fact that it is a CGI made movie makes it very hard for people that don’t know the series to pick up since not many adults are big on CGI. So i don’t really see the point of a review for the people that didn’t play the game because unless the movie inspired them to figure out the whole story, they are just going to go Ohh and ahh at the CGI and pay the majority of their attention to the fights. Also they themselves would say the movie was bad or they didn’t know what was going on. All in all there should just be a review aimed at people who know the story line and the movie itself should have a disclaimer saying “it is highly suggested you play the game Final Fantasy 7 before viewing this movie as it is a continuation of said game and will leave you rather confused if viewed without solid understanding of the Main story”. It’s sad to have a movie with the requirement of having to know something that happened in a game made in 1997 but then again no one should be dumb enough to buy a movie where on the back of the box it clearly states that it is a continuation of a game made 12 years ago without thinking hmmmmm I never heard of the game but what the hell I’ll go for it. As for your review it should have been this. Its a Great movie that nicely ends the final fantasy 7 franchise story as well as being beautifully animated as well as great music from Nobuo Uematsu although it is recommended that you do not buy this movie unless you are going watch it after completing the game Final Fantasy 7 or you have prior knowledge of the main storyline. That’s all it’s short sweet and tells the curios movie buyer to save their money on something if they do not plan on playing a 12 year old ps1 game or if they are over the age of lets say 30 considering a person at that age they probably didn’t play FF7 because they were already 18 and most likely past their age of video games. Also either way you look at it no matter what the only people that are most likely going to buy the movie are people that beat and know the full story of final fantasy 7 considering the only people that buy final fantasy 7 anything are people that are fan boys/girls. I am not one of those. I will not sell my soul for a plushie of Cloud or Tifa. But i will defend something that i believe is treated unjustly.

  • Hos

    This film is for hardcore fans of the game ONLY! Theres no point in trying to explain the back story to newcomers because the game is immense.

  • Stevos Gloriosus

    Be fair Anthony, games aren’t restricted to teenagers any more. There’s no cut off date at which stage someone is no longer going to play as you suggest. Loads of “adults” are fully aware of CGI and loads of over 30’s who grew up playing Space Invaders and the like still play these games – you only have to look at the number of PC games in any games store to realise the market for adult gamers is massive.