A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 27 – Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children – March 27, 2010

I’m going to make a confession: I have never played or watched Andy play a Final Fantasy game. To be honest, most of the JRPGs I’ve watched have bored me. Endless repetitive grinding and then cut scenes that make me miss the grinding. So I don’t bother. Therefore, I had absolutely no clue what any of the backstory was for this movie.

Now, another confession: We watched this in multiple sittings. I’m giving us a pass on this, not because of the movie, but because of the weekend. Yesterday we had a block of time picked out for Stand By Me and tomorrow the con ends at 6pm so we’ll be home in the evening. Today we weren’t sure what the mid-afternoon to evening time would hold for us so we watched about half while we ate breakfast, some more while we were at home to feed the cats, then the rest this afternoon while we took a little break from the con. In the future? I think I’m going to have to insist on single viewings, especially for movies like this. It was hard to make myself pay attention to it after a break.

I will say, the movie is pretty. It is an hour and forty minutes of pretty. That being said, it definitely takes a trip to the uncanny valley. The characters are beautifully done, but they’re creepily reminiscent of a line of life-size dolls I wish I didn’t know existed. So overall, the pretty is beaten out but the creepy and the feeling that there’s a lot more story somewhere, and I’m not talking about the videogame.

See, the thing is, I watched an hour of it and felt totally lost. But I assumed I was totally lost because I didn’t know the game. So then when we took a break to head back to our home and the cats, Andy filled me in on some backstory for the main character (Cloud) and the world the movie is set in. And the result? Yeah, still pretty fuzzy on the details. There’s this guy, and he was a soldier (or actually, a SOLDIER, except he wasn’t, as Andy told me, except that doesn’t EVER come into play in the movie so whatever) and now he’s got these kids living with him but he’s never there I guess and there was obviously a big war or something and now lots of people are infected with some sort of plague or supernatural taint. And there’s a guy in a wheelchair who’s being all mysterious and manipulating stuff all over the place. And people want the soldier dude to come back and have a life, but he doesn’t want one, and the wheelchair guy wants him to fight for him but he won’t do that either. And then there are bad guys on bikes who want to take all the infected kids and do… something… I guess.

And then there’s the climax. It lasts for approximately an hour. It’s a series of boss fights, really. Just strung together with pauses in between for encouraging looks from the female lead and sometimes character introductions for people I might care about if I’d played the game but I didn’t so I don’t. They’re just set dressing for me.

Eventually, after the hour long climactic battle(s) the good guys win and the bad guys lose and it rains and everyone’s cured. Hooray!

What a slog.

March 27, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

March 27, 2010

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

We’re at a gaming conference, so we’re reviewing gaming movies.  This morning we’re watching the Final Fantasy VII movie, Advent Children.  If you played the interminable Final Fantasy X I’ll bet you wondered to yourself “Why does Squaresoft keep making games?  They stagger from cut scene to cut scene, sometime without a single battle between… why don’t they cut the game parts out and just make a movie?”  The answer, if this movie is any indication, is “because a movie based on a Squaresoft property just wouldn’t make any blooming sense.”  It turns out that all that time spent exploring villages, stealing everything from every chest you can find, and talking to random passers by is not just busy work, it lets you take in the world in little segments.  If your brain doesn’t have this time, and if you’re not introduced to the world a little bit here and there between the cutscenes you end up with a big mess like this.

Advent Children presupposes a working knowledge of the world and characters of Final Fantasy VII.  You don’t get introduced to any of the characters, they’re all just sort of thrown at you with any past adventures and relationships a part of the complete package.  Two years have passed sing Cloud and Co. defeated the evil Sephiroth and they’ve all gone their separate ways.  Cloud and Tifa are living together (though it seems in the movie to be totally platonic and the two of them have no chemistry whatsoever.)  For some reason they’ve taken in a couple orphan kids too.  There’s some mysterious malady afflicting people that’s probably related to corruption of the world’s spirit energy by the final battle with Sephiroth.  And Cloud is all mopey and distant because he’s still mourning Aerith.

Or something.  You don’t really get much explenation for anything.  There are these three dufuses who want to resurrect Sephiroth (part of the same experiments by the Shinra corporation that made Cloud and Sephiroth in the first place I guess.)  And then stuff happens.  There’s a motorcycle fight scene, a fight in a glowing forest, a fight in the heart of some ruined city (possible Midguard) with a giant summon beast, another motorcycle fight scene, and a climactic rooftop fight scene.  At no point in this is there any characterization, explanation or plot exposition.  All Cloud’s companions show up very briefly then leave for no apparent reason.  (They come to the rescue during the climactic rooftop fight but quickly chat with each other and decide not to rescue Cloud after all.)  So if you were a fan of Barret or Yuffie or anyone from the game don’t expect a heartwarming reunion scene or anything.  They show up, pose a bit, then leave.

I’ll not deny that technically this movie is impressive.  A whole lot of artists spent a whole lot of time making this one long killer cutscene.  It’s full of amazing crowd scenes flowing hair and clothes (check out the hair on that wolf near the beginning… quite an achievement by itself.)  And you can’t complain that there isn’t enough action.  It just doesn’t make any sense.

So what are we left with?  A collection of very, very nicely rendered CGI fight scenes with no context.  Updated character models with ridiculously high polygon counts but with pretty much the same silly pointy anime hair.  Grand orchestrated versions of some of the tunes from the original game.  And a slightly empty feeling.

Oh, and a question for the creators: what’s up with the cell phones?  Was the movie partially funded by Motorola?  One of the bad guys has the Final Fantasy victory tune as his ringtone (something which I’m sure is true for at least somebody at this con as well.)  Characters ridicule Cloud for not answering his voice mail and rag on Vincent for not having a cell phone at all.  There’s a moment that I think is supposed to bring home Cloud’s alienation from his friends when his phone sinks into a bottomless puddle and all their voicemails play.  And yet at no time do we see a brand or anything… it’s just as though the movie is one long advertisement for cell phone use.  (Like a feature length modern version of the MST short Once Upon a Honeymoon.)  Very, very strange.

March 27, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment