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Review: Final Fantasy VII - Advent Children

  •  09-17-2005, 10:14

    Review: Final Fantasy VII - Advent Children

    "Final Fantasy" should not be an unfamiliar phrase to anybody who has been entertained by quality gaming from Square Soft (now known as Square Enix) the past two decades and more. It should then not be surprising one bit for me to state that Final Fantasy VII is possibly the greatest gaming experience I ever had in my life so far. Never had I been impacted with such powerful storytelling and character development interwoven so well with gameplay, and truly the first time I cried playing a game.

    So "EXCITEMENT!" would be an outright understatement to describe my feelings the moment I discovered Square Enix was planning to extend that marvellous epic story. It is a joy to once again "meet up with old friends" and see those cherished characters revamped in modern 3D glory, almost drawing the bond with them even closer. Cloud rendered in realistic proportions becomes by far the prettiest character in the show, even outdoing the females. I'm not too sure if that is a good or bad thing. The beautiful musical score nostalgically relives all those moments travelling the Planet, and certainly makes it one of those exceedingly rare occasions when yearning for the past actually becomes a case of truth for me.

    Enough about the "good" old times. What about now? Two years after the Planet saved itself from the comet Sephiroth summoned, the team go their separate ways while Cloud and Tifa run a delivery service business (talk about overly-skilled couriers. And no comments about GetBackers here, please.) back in Midgar and also an orphanage for children suffering for a mysterious disease Geostigma. Cloud and the rest will soon discover the significance of this ailment as a trio of young biker punks appear and attack relentlessly.

    And oh wow relentless action it surely is. This movie is chock full of fights and you will go out of breath trying to keep up with the pace of the action. Strategic use of slow motions at the critical "Matrix" moments really goes a long way to show these characters are way more powerful and skilled than would be expected from playing the game. You want mega fights that can challenge the skillsets of Naruto? You have it here fully animated, and you get your money's worth. However, the extravaganza of materia is completely minimised. Other than the summoning of (a new type of) Bahamut, we are just treated to a crate full of materia that goes unused. A great pity for items that were so crucial in the game.

    Speaking of minimising, the most unfortunate problem to this story will become painfully apparent (perhaps at a slower rate for those enthralled by the action) - there is actually very little story and character development. Contrasting with the massive and deep character development in the game, the plot goes thin to link the elements to Jenova and Sephiroth, and the supporting team characters just about make up for screen time that is largely covered in the trailers and shots. I know a short movie grants little for time rationing, but giving characters more depth and use other than a cameo battle can be done. What we ultimately get out of this scheme is an incredulously paper-thin Cloud-and-Tifa story with mostly Cloud going through his periods of depression and flashbacks for Aeris. Audience who never played the game will be hard pressed to make sense out of anything, despite the narrative effort in the introduction. Of course, we all know this movie is for gamers only, right?

    I believe I came in with the wrong expectation, and came out with major disappointment. The action's great, for sure. But hanging onto the same feelings of the game got me in an unfulfilling state by the show's end. Oh well, at least Aeris is happy now. I guess I don't have to seek a way to revive her anymore.

    Overall rating: 6/10
    Yes High-flying action and extravagant fights; pretty faces
    No Minimalist story; underused characters; not enough materia; Where're the chocobos?!

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