V.G. Movies #20: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.

[Welcome back to the Evolution of Video Game Movies series. Every week, I will be moving forward through time, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent of video game movies. I will be detailing the histories of the games and how the films came about, and both my and fan reaction to the adaptations. Practically all of my background information is either common knowledge or from Wikipedia. So without further ado, let's move on to the next film on the list.]


Around mid-April, I discussed the most important video game series of my life and its first film, Final Fantasy. In that article, I briefly mentioned a handful of times the most popular game of the series, Final Fantasy VII. So popular, in fact, that almost half of The Spirits Within stole from it. The game series itself has never actually had a direct sequel, at least up until 2003 when Final Fantasy X-2 was released.

Eventually, rumors of a Final Fantasy 7 remake ran rampant, updating the graphics and whatnot to enhance the experience of the original game. While that still has yet to happen, Square-Enix decided to create the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, which is a series of games and other media expanding on the world of FF7. Each title would focus on a different aspect or set of characters to help on the expansion.

The first to come out for this was a phone/mobile game called Final Fantasy: Crisis Core that acted as a prequel to the original game and focused on the Turks. However, it wasn't the first to be announced. That honor went to a movie sequel the game--Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. The film was conceptualized to follow the story of Cloud and Tifa, along with the children they helped to take care of. And while there were other game titles to follow, it's the film we're focusing on for now.

The film takes place 2 years after the end of the game, and this brings with it some positives and negatives. First and foremost, the film caters to the fans of the game, giving you characters, events, music, and overall visuals that are an FF7 fan's wet dream. On the downside... the film caters to the fans of the game. If you have not played Final Fantasy 7, this movie will make absolutely no sense to you, and this has been the primary complaint of reviewers and critics everywhere. But is that the only problem with the movie? Let's see...


Of course I own this on DVD, but it's been a while since I last watched it. Even having played the game more than once... I found it a lot more confusing than I remember it being. The film, as I said, picks up 2 years after the end of the game, and everyone is just trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild what's left of their lives. But a deadly illness called Geostigma has spread around the world, mostly infecting children and young adults. Cloud and Tifa have begun a delivery service (on top of taking care of orphans), but Cloud has run off to be alone, leaving Tifa to take care of Marlene and other kids. However, the remnants of Shinra Corp have contacted Cloud, wanting his help taking care of a certain matter. Three guys who look suspiciously similar to Sephiroth--the previous big bad--have appeared, and they're looking for the head of Jenova (an alien being that wanted to destroy the planet and that was used in experimentation by Shinra, thus helping to create both Cloud and Sephiroth). With it, they can resurrect Sephiroth and continue the plan to destroy the world.

See? Even in the opening plot summary I had to go into background game information just to get through it. To be fair, the movie doesn't intend to alienate its audience. There's an opening narrative that gives a brief (very brief) summary of the game. But it leaves out some information that can leave the unaware viewer a bit lost, particularly anything dealing with Aerith or Zack (or any of the other side characters that show up in the film later, at least anything outside a quick visual of them all fighting Sephiroth). Regardless, the biggest thing a viewer unacquainted with the game is missing is the character development and connections. Gamers would have spent anywhere from 60-100+ hours with these characters prior to getting to this film. They would know their background, their connections to each other, and everything they had to go through to get to this point. In other words, a non-gamer would have no emotional connection to any of these people or their situation going into this... and, unfortunately, the film tends to rely on the fact you already know them.

Don't get me started on the Geostigma stuff--it's a new thing to the film, and it's kinda poorly explained so that even I have a hard time following it. In fact, for the most part, the new stuff (geostigma, the Sephiroth remnants, etc.) could have been fleshed out a wee bit better. It's like they had a cool idea, but ran out of time in the writing department to figure out and explain exactly what these things are or how they came about. Geostigma is at least mostly explained, but the baddies are just... there. No idea how they came to be, they just are. I suppose if you don't think about it too much, it's fine.

All of that being said, practically everything else about this film is outstanding--particularly the visuals, the action, and the music. Let's start with the pretty, pretty pictures. This is basically the best looking animated film you're going to see for years. Even just watching it again, I have to say I'm having a hard time thinking of an animated film that is more gorgeous than this one. The animation is purely brilliant and ahead of its time. Matching this are the awe-inspiring action sequences. They actually tried to do as much motion capture as they could for the action, but then had to go back to pure animation when it came to things that were physically impossible to pull off in the real world. The way the "camera" is used and the set-pieces and the choreography... everything just comes together perfectly to give a lot of style and some of the best damn action scenes you'll see in an animated film (not to mention better than some live action films). And then, of course, the music. Composer Nobuo Uematsu returns with a score taken and updated almost entirely from the game, giving a fun, beautiful, nostalgic feel.

So whereas Spirits Within was considered a failure (though it really isn't) based on how it's absolutely nothing like the source material, Advent Children can be considered a failure (though it really isn't) by those who haven't played the game, since it relies too much on the source material. Regardless, the action and animation are so brilliantly done that you'll sometimes forget you have no idea what's going on. So if I'm saying the story is the issue, but the visual aspect makes up for it--it's a style over substance film? Completely. If you're going into this movie, you're going to take out those two things as the biggest positive (well, those and the music). Honestly, I don't think I could recommend it to anybody who hasn't played the game, unless you just want to see it for the cool factor. It ain't perfect, even for a gamer, but it's a fun enough time.

A Keanu 'Whoa'


  1. I dig this film. I used to like it a lot more, but after watching it again, I found some similar problems, such as the geostigma.

    But the action and animation is so spectacular, that this film is a lot of fun. It does have some spectacular animation. It's been a while since I've seen it, so I'm not sure if the animation is still quite spectacular as it was several years ago, but the stills of the film certainly have a level of detail we wouldn't see another animation studio achieve for a few years.

    1. The animation actually does hold up. I was surprised. I thought it might be a similar situation with Spirits Within, where it was awesome at the time but looked fake and kinda creepy now. Not the case. Even 7 years later, it's some of the best animation I've ever seen.

  2. Made zero sense as far as story goes, but as for everything else, holy hell...

    Vividly remember the morning my friend downloaded this, upon which time my friends and I immediately ran over to his dorm in our pajama pants and watched it with jaws on the floor. Final Fantasy VII is still the greatest video game ever made, and I remember instantly thinking this was my favorite movie of the year.

    Good review, man. Definitely not for the uninitiated, but unmissable for the converted.

    When are they gonna remake that game already? FFXIII was one of the most disappointing, and honestly worst, games I've ever played. Serenity now...

    Awesome feature, btw.

    1. Yeah, this one is pretty impressive. And I would totally buy an FF7 remake. I agree that 13 was incredibly disappointing. Great visuals, but awful gameplay and a handful of annoying characters. I actually still haven't finished it yet. I mean, I even went back and finished FF12 a year after I started it (that game is LONG!), but 13 isn't worth it. I asked a friend, who is a huge FF fan and will pretty much like a lot of it no matter what, if it would be worth finished to play 13-2, but even she was like "Eh... it depends where you're at in 13."

      Thanks for complimenting the feature. It doesn't get a lot of love, and sometimes it feels like I'm doing it for nothing. But a little compliment every now and then makes me feel like it's appreciated.

  3. I think anyone with half a brain would by an FF7 remake. Played it again last year for the first time in ages, still my #1, but there are some serious translation issues in the script at times.

    But as far as 13 goes, I didn't finish that either. Put about 30 hours in, then got to Gran Pulse, realized I'd be grinding for the next 30 hours just to finish a game that I already hated, and decided to stop there. Never done that with a game before, I even saw X-2 to the end, and that's the second worst/most disappointing game I've ever played. Ugh, that series needs a wake-up call.

    12 is great though, HUGE like you said. Just wish there had been one real main character to rally around since I never felt like using Ashe and always used Vaan.

    Anyway, this feature rocks. Often thought about doing something similar, but given that no one has actually made a good video game adaptation yet, I can only see it as a true labor of love that would infuriate me to no end. I often daydream about being the guy who brings Metal Gear Solid to the screen, and the world will rejoice. Some day...

  4. I loved whatshername in 12... Vaan's blonde friend. I gave her a giant hammer, pimped her stats, and she was easily my best and strongest party member.

    Dot write off video game movies yet. Most are shit, sure. But I actually have found a couple good ones out there!

  5. Penelo, I think it was. Yeah, she was my go-to mage. The party was usually Vaan, Penelo, and Basch. Lot of really good characters in that game though, been anxious for a while now to go back and play it differently.

    And I am all ears to these supposed good video game movies you're referring to. I really hope we're not gonna have to hash out our differences over Prince of Persia.


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