Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary Movie Review: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete

By Thom Compton 20.12.2017

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Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete (UK Rating: PG)

Apparently, people really liked Final Fantasy VII. Apparently, it was the best game in the whole series. That last point is contestable, but the impact Final Fantasy VII had on the industry really isn't. While it wasn't the first in the series to receive a sequel, it was the first to receive a plethora of additional content. An anime, a spin-off in Dirge of Cerberus, a mobile game about snowboarding, and even a collection of stories about Cloud Strife's friends - Final Fantasy VII has gotten a lot of attention. Even more so, it now has a remake in the works. However, out of all of its spin-off material, Advent Children was probably the biggest one.

The original release felt fairly disjointed and off course at the time it was released. Fortunately, Advent Children Complete adds in several scenes that make the whole film feel more cohesive. Denzel gets more screen time to feel more important, instead of like a random kid viewers are expected to care about. The relationship between Cloud and Tifa also gets a bit more time to flourish. Unfortunately, this doesn't make the film any less underwhelming than it was previously, at least in the long run.

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In terms of films based on video games, Advent Children Complete is honestly one of the better ones. Even back upon the film's original release, it was hard to believe that gaming movies would ever have any luck. Even Square's The Spirits Within was just messy. Advent Children, however, showed real promise that someday a film could be made based on a title that held real weight. Sadly, even with the addition of scenes that fill in the blanks, Advent Children Complete is an underwhelming and wholly unnecessary film.

Taking place two years after the events of the original game, Advent Children Complete deals with the aftermath of Jenova and Sephiroth; a disease, Geostigma, spreads, at least through Midgar, like wildfire. The decision to keep the events largely in and around Midgar is actually smart, because it keeps the film focused. Most of it follows Cloud and Denzel, really. Marlene and Tifa have a good amount of screen time, but Cloud and Denzel's relationship is the more important aspect. It is not just about Cloud and Denzel developing an almost father and son-like relationship, built around Cloud living in the moment, and overcoming the past.

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While this is all well and good, it's really just a continuation of what Cloud was dealing with in the main game. Of course, now he has more to overcome, but watching him try to do so just feels stale. He has memories of certain characters who, to discuss at any real length, would ruin some of the better plot points of the original story, but suffice it to say, it can be annoying to watch him try to overcome these issues again when he seemed to have overcome them in the RPG adventure.

For those hoping to get more time with the other characters, don't hold your breath. Rufus Shinra, Reno, Rude, and Tifa are the characters with the most screen time, and for the most part they aren't anything special. Reno is kind of an idiot, Rufus is just cocky and talks a bit too much, and it's really hard to apply an adjective to Rude, considering he doesn't have any real distinguishing characteristics. He's taciturn, but kind of goofy.

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Tifa's constant upbeat attitude can be grating, but she doesn't get to say enough of value to really keep your attention. Also, she's incorporated into one of the film's better fight scenes, but once those have been discussed, you will see why that doesn't really matter. The remainder of the characters could have honestly been left out, because they range from insufferable to boring.

Vincent is underutilised, and he sounds like someone doing Christian Bale doing Batman, although not as aggressively. Barret is obnoxious, spouting one-liners and feeling more like a stereotype than his own character. Yuffie is outright terrible, as she seems content to just shriek words in a high pitch voice, like how old men think teenage girls sound like. Cid feels like what millennials think old Southern mechanics sound like... and then there are the bad guys.

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Kadaj is the most likeable character on the bad guys' team. His arrogance is overshadowed by his generally conniving nature, and at his worst he feels like a straight to DVD Disney villain. Yazoo is just there, as in he just exists. He adds very little to the conversations, and his most distinguishing characteristic is picking on Loz. Loz is, and this justifies a wow, one of the worst characters in the whole film. He is the lug, kind of Krunk in The Emperor's New Groove, except not as endearing and just a bit more menacing. He's an intimidating villain, sure, being very quick and physically imposing. However, listening to him try to be tough, or even crying about his mother, then saying he didn't, gets old very quickly.

Fortunately, or not, Cloud gets most of the show, and even the most prevalent of the other characters gets very little screen time. Cloud's whole moping thing is handled much better than it could have been, as you will rarely want to smack him and tell him to buck up. However, Cloud was a pretty easy character to translate to other material. It was really Sephiroth, the game's main villain and one of gaming's most popular antagonists, who the film had to worry about. Sadly, it must be reported that Sephiroth, on screen, is a complete and total waste.

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Before breaking this down finally, to be honest, Sephiroth's script in Final Fantasy VII wasn't exactly poetry. However, here he's just plain terrible. He spends the entire film quipping lines that could have been better said by much better bad guys. That's all he does. He beats up Cloud, and says something. Rinse and repeat. His fight scene with Cloud is the flashiest, but thanks to his terrible and cringe-worthy one-liners, like "Tell me what you cherish most. Give me the pleasure of taking it away," it's most frustrating. Of course, as is the rule of the good/bad guy dynamic, Cloud's lines can't be better than Sephiroth's, so you can imagine how dumb his get.

Fortunately, Sephiroth's lines are mostly drowned out by the genuinely fantastic music. Seriously, the music in this movie is perfect. During Tifa's fight in a certain church, the playful and intense piano in the background is stellar. The music plays fantastically throughout, and is largely just remixes of the original soundtrack.

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The film also looks really good, although character models all look sickly. Midgar does, too, but that's a bonus considering the disease plaguing the planet. With the characters, not all of them are sick and, therefore, the ghostly pale make-up they have on is just weird and unappealing. Seriously, Vincent looks like he has hypothermia, and Tifa looks like a doll you would avoid in your grandmother's attic.

The saving grace is the first half - oddly the one with the least action. The story behind Geostigma is genuinely interesting, and Cloud and Tifa's life after the events of the game feel natural and deserving of a film. The action could have worked, but thanks to largely feeling like some dollar store film called Wanted: The Matrix, almost all of the action is incredibly boring. Really, Advent Children Complete isn't unwatchable, and it's hardly the worst video game film ever made. However, it's hard to imagine it doing more than waste two hours of your time while your 58k modem downloads the original game to your PS4.

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4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Fanfare at its finest, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete is just a collection of characters you loved in a game you can't get enough of. While Cloud's story is interesting, literally every other character gets shoehorned in to make sure he has people to talk to. Diehard fans might find something to love in this shallow and largely unlikeable film, but for the rest of the world, there's always just playing the original game again… or literally any other components of the Final Fantasy VII Compilation.

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