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Overall Rating
3.71

Awesome44.2%
Worth A Look: 15.94%
Average: 13.04%
Pretty Bad: 20.29%
Total Crap: 6.52%

2 reviews, 126 user ratings


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Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children
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by David Cornelius

"You'll have some fancy CGI to look at while you're bored and confused."
2 stars

I suppose if they can make a “NeverEnding Story II,” they can make a “Final Fantasy VII.”

The whole “Final Fantasy VII” thing confuses me to no end, and I figure I better mention this right up front. I have never played a “Final Fantasy” video game. I do not know what happens in any of these games. I have no idea why “Final Fantasy VII” - not “III” or “VI” or “IX” - is the one sequel game that everyone loves so much that not only have they made spin-off games from that sequel game (instead of calling them “Final Fantasy XVI” or something, it’s “Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII” and the like), but now they’ve made a spin-off movie, “Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children,” which is a sequel to the game “Final Fantasy VII” and not at all a sequel to “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within,” which was another movie based on the game series, although that one was more of a loose spin-off than a full adaptation or a direct sequel.

My brain hurts from trying to tie it all together, and I haven’t even gotten to the movie yet.

Here’s the thing: “Advent Children” was made entirely for hardcore fans of “Final Fantasy VII” - and nobody else. And watching it, I’m certain that those well familiar with that game will very much enjoy seeing this film. In fact, the filmmakers include a loving dedication to the fans who have stuck with the story all these years; translated from the original Japanese, it reads: “To those who loved this world and knew friendly company therein: This Reunion is for you.”

“Reunion” is a very important word. “Advent Children” makes only the slightest effort to bring non-fans up to speed, but because the clumsy, rapid-fire exposition narration doesn’t quite do the best job, watching the rest of the film feels like going to another school’s ten-year reunion. Sure, you can get through the evening, but you don’t recognize the faces, you don’t get the in-jokes, you’re bored out of your skull.

If this were the sequel to a movie, I could possibly forgive the lack of consideration given to the newcomer, perhaps under the guise of a “continuing cinematic saga” or whatever. But this is a sequel to a long, complicated role playing game that’s pushing its ninth birthday, manufactured for a game console that is very much outdated. It’s not like you can run down to your local video store and be all caught up in an hour or two. The only possible way to make the film successful is to make it accessible to all, which it decidedly does not.

But I gave it a try anyway. “Advent Children,” from what I could gather, takes place in some sci-fi otherworld where some planet (ours? not?) is powered by a giant mass of energy, called the Lifestream, which surrounds the globe. Apparently, some mega corporation found a way to suck power from the Lifestream, which led to wars and devastation, capped off by the planet itself destroying those which did it harm. (There might have also been an alien invasion tossed in there or something.)

This all happens in the prologue (one so poorly written that the narrator actually gets off track, then says a casual “anyway…” and carries on), and the story proper picks up two years after all of this, with a major city in ruins. A good number of people, mainly children, are stricken with a disease called “Geostigma,” which apparently has nothing to do with the shame of driving an inexpensive compact car. A couple of heroes run a delivery company and also a makeshift orphanage. Then comes a mystery man, a search for a major supply of Lifestream energy, and the secret about one character’s past. Or something.

It’s all a mess, but surely the action will fill in the gaps, yes? Not really. Although the film is wallpapered in action sequences and mammoth fight scenes, none of them thrill. This isn’t just for lack of being into the story, either (although that is a problem - the plot is just a loose thread tying the various car chases and sword fights together, and the blandness of it wears thin all too quickly); the action fails on a purely visceral level. No cheap thrills here, no matter how much they try.

Why? Because like “The Spirits Within” before it, “Advent Children” is entirely animated by computer, the intent being to create as lifelike a world and inhabitants as possible. And like the previous film, this one’s fairly gorgeous, filled with stunning visuals that seem to have been created simply to show off the software of those who made it and the hardware of those who watch it.

But here’s the catch: making everything so artificial removes the element of danger from the stuntwork. Sure, we can watch as heroes and villains leap off racing motorcycles and over explosions, but there’s no meat to any of it. The animation intends to approximate reality, meaning that instead of taking us somewhere new and allowing these cartoon creatures to defy physics in wonderful ways; and instead of forming an exaggerated reality in which hyperbole reigns supreme; heck, instead of merely thinking up some cool move we’ve never seen before; the filmmakers merely give us CGI versions of things we’ve already watched in countless John Woo flicks. The problem, then, is that the cartoon versions of these action set pieces become rather dull - unlike seeing the exact same thing performed by real stunt people (the thrill seeing an actual human being defy death, even if aided by the special effects crew), the animation forces a lack of immediacy. There’s no threat - they’re just cartoons. (And this doesn’t even include the fact that every action bit runs on a few minutes too long, eventually losing the viewers instead of wowing them.)

Of course, perhaps I’d be more wrapped up in the action if there were anything to the story. By getting involved with richly detailed characters and the drama of a story well told, we get wrapped up in worrying about the consequences: will he leap to safety in time? With nothing here to carry us through, we’re just stuck watching animators recreate their favorite car chase scenes from better movies, followed by what I’m assuming is some reference to something that happened once in the video game.

From all this, it’s easy to see why, despite the immense popularity of the game and the seemingly easy marketability the familiar title provides, Sony opted to wait well over a year before importing this Stateside, and even then they merely dump it with a direct-to-video release. This is third-rate sci-fi cobbled together with familiar elements of a video game some people like, and that’s not nearly enough to work as a film. Sure, it may play out nicely as a valentine to the game’s fans, but to lovers of movies, it’s little more than a franchise tie-in, easily ignored and instantly forgotten.

Update (4/25/06): I’ve already gotten a handful of emails about my review, most of them belonging in the “I haven’t seen the movie yet but it’s Final Fantasy so it must be great and you suck ass” category. One very helpful (and polite and intelligent - flamers and complainers, take note!) email came from Johnathon Brown, who writes: “SquareEnix (not Sony) mentioned long before release that Advent Children would be direct-to-DVD and that it was geared almost entirely to those that played Final Fantasy VII.” Which pretty much negates the whole Sony-dumping-it notion of my final paragraph.

Brown also goes on to remind me that the DVD includes a collection of cut scenes from “Final Fantasy VII.” After watching the film, I did check out that feature, which pretty much runs down the entire game story in lengthy, dialogue-heavy role-playing clips. As a non-fan, the presentation was too uninteresting: it’s nothing but clips, set to the film’s musical score, and it’s kinda like watching your friend play a video game while you sit around with nothing else to do. I turned it off after a couple of minutes. There’s also a detailed making-of feature on the second disc in the DVD set, which I did not get to watch.

But then, this only emphasizes my point. In order to enjoy a movie, it should stand on its own, yes? “Advent Children” does not. As I already said above, it’ll work with fans of the game, but if you need to include multiple DVD extras just to explain what’s going on, then you’ve failed as a storyteller.

Update no. 2 (4/26/06): And now, another reader, Michael Ramirez, chimes in with smart, courteous comments that prove that does well in the putting-me-to-shame department. After making some comments about how I’m not too fair in judging it as a sequel (he says I picked up on enough plot that I shouldn’t have complained as much as I did), he writes:

“The other thing you seemed to rant about were the fight scenes and how they’re just remakes of live action movies... Seriously, I think this is one of those times where a line like ‘What were you smoking?’ would be fitting. … Defy Physics? In every single fight scene there is physics being defied. All the other reviews on Rotten Tomatoes speak of this, I don’t understand how you don’t see it. I mean do you see what these 150 pound men do to those huge motorcycles? What about the scene where they launch Cloud into seemingly outer space? I’ve never seen stuff like that before. You didn’t mention anywhere how the camera angles in some of these fight scenes are fairly exciting, fast moving, and oddly placed, unlike their live action counterparts. At least put some key examples and comparisons in your review of where you’ve seen stuff like this before.”

And herein lies the problem. I wrote the review the day after watching the film - a viewing that was filtered with the glazed-over haze of terminal non-interest. So when it came time to write my review, I was relying on blurry memories and barely legible notes that read something along the lines of “car chase - long, boring.” Now, I could probably whip up some sloppy defense for myself, claiming that these were my honest reactions and memories of the movie (which they were) and that if the movie was any better, then I’d be remembering all the physics-defying that was on display, instead of focusing on the more mundane aspects (which is also true). But it’s my own fault for not only supporting my argument with the examples and comparisons that Ramirez notes as being shamefully absent, but also for being so eager to pound this one half-assed notion into the ground (especially when there are so many other problems that I could have discussed instead - even Ramirez laments the shabby voice acting and laughable dialogue). So I’m forced to concede to him on this issue, especially his remark about “cameras” being impossibly placed, which I regrettably overlooked before.

Out of humility, I’ll be keeping the original text of my review unchanged; after all, it is my first reaction to the film, fuzzy memories or no, and first reactions are always worth something. Besides, my opinion of “Advent Children” as a dull, cluttered, chaotic affair remains the same, and that’s the main point, right?

(A big thanks to Brown and Ramirez for their input in all of this.)

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14321&reviewer=392
originally posted: 04/25/06 10:42:25
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5/30/10 Saj FF7 was the greatest thing of my life! AC just enhanced it. 5 stars
5/20/10 Nzm Seriosly, game was good and had awesome storyline. The film is poor fanservice 2 stars
5/06/10 Elmo Visually good, otherwise an okay try... 3 stars
2/16/10 Mick David Cornelius=Asshole. 4 stars
11/02/09 hehehe AC was awesome. i never heard of ff until that movie. there is such a thing as research.duh 5 stars
9/21/09 huhwhat I've played the game and you know what? This movie is tripe- horrible fanservice only 1 stars
8/23/09 Cloud You should watch my new movie: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete 5 stars
8/16/09 Jo You are not a part of its target audience. You may not enjoy it but don't trash talk. 5 stars
8/08/09 #message_main_keyword# If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that aft 2 stars
8/02/09 Just Me I love Final Fantasy, but this is a bad movie. It's only for the mindless hardcore fanboys. 2 stars
8/01/09 Rue Don't review unless you've played the game. Poor review. F- 5 stars
5/31/09 Patrick Campbell I loved the game, but this film was like a 90 minute kick in the nuts. Poor show. 1 stars
3/26/09 Alex If you have no idea what the franchise is about; don't review it. Simple as. 5 stars
3/20/09 AN Most beautiful movie ever 5 stars
2/20/09 Jonathan Before you attack this movie, get a playstation and play the fucking game, you asshole! 5 stars
2/19/09 Total Crap For Final Fantasy VII fans only. We don't expect you to understand. 5 stars
11/21/08 Shaun Wallner Friiggin Awesome!! 5 stars
7/02/08 CopperHIkari To the normal man, it's tripe; to the fans, it's an orgasm in a box with Cloud on it. 5 stars
6/30/08 Callighan Not top notch, not epic. But a very entertaining film for a fan. 4 stars
6/23/08 archont If your ordinary Joe Everyman can run up walls, why don't they have vertical catwalks? 1 stars
4/25/08 Sze How is it possible to properly review something inwhich you do not understand? 4 stars
4/19/08 Gestahl Technically impressive, substanially dull, even coming from a player of the game. 2 stars
4/16/08 Ty Good for a movie, but lacked some background and too many cameos. Awesome action sequences! 5 stars
4/14/08 Ariki Aboe all i love the soundtrack. But loved the movie and the game 5 stars
4/13/08 xhead sephiroth is awesome, he made this movie worth the while 5 stars
4/10/08 Stan This movie was made for people who have played FFVII. If you have, this movie is amazing! 5 stars
3/20/08 John Gaskin Agreed on the dubs issue. Putting myself in the reviewer's shoes, I can see his point. 4 stars
3/13/08 Max Great film, terrible review, shame about the crappy US dub. Japanese + subtitles = win. 5 stars
2/11/08 mike I agree with this review. the movie is a mess. 2 stars
1/10/08 The Vicker the defying physics has to do with the fantasy. americans are used to realistic, so yeah. 4 stars
12/28/07 Chris Only the fans will fully understand this, which is what this movie was FOR. 4 stars
12/11/07 Tip this critic is a douche. its SUPPOSED to resemble the game...moron 5 stars
12/06/07 Kyle If you TRULY understand the storyline of the game, this movie is amazing!!! 5 stars
11/21/07 Bon The guy who reviewed this is a wanker... 5 stars
11/14/07 Jones It may not explain to newcomers well, but sit back and pay attention and you will enjoy. 5 stars
11/08/07 Joanna/Edo A wonderful movie all the way around! 5 stars
10/31/07 Timothy I'm a huge fan of the game, but this movie was a turd. Maybe work on the plot first? 2 stars
9/03/07 Ian I agree totally with Ferenc Kovacs. You are not qualify to be a professional critic 5 stars
7/22/07 Jay Awful flim that didnt make any sense at all. 2 stars
7/16/07 Total Crap Awesome though i think IGN should review game movies, not EFilmCritic. 5 stars
7/01/07 Alice I've played the game and am a huge fan and the movie is still crap. 1 stars
5/06/07 Ferenc Kovacs Next time, do some research, before write a critic about something, that you don't know. 4 stars
4/26/07 Char Its a seuquel.. you are expected to know what happens in the original to enjoy this. 5 stars
4/18/07 Stevo UK Chances are, the Japenese will love this. but not everyones Japenese. 1 stars
4/12/07 GG This movie was a cheap nostalgic cash-in. It fails as a sequel and a standalone. Shallow. 2 stars
3/09/07 Giancarlos Calderon A very good movie and enjoyable but it has more action than story 4 stars
2/17/07 DJA The guy has a point, if you havn't played the game the movie dosn't have the same appeal 3 stars
12/17/06 Alvin If you dont understand it play the game first!!! especially the critics... 5 stars
11/20/06 Rock it isnt so much of the movie but the storyline of the 1st VG and how it grew from that. 4 stars
11/16/06 Rho The thing with FF is that the games/movies make the viewer actually use their brain.OhNoez! 5 stars
11/02/06 3man Best I've seen in 2006 5 stars
10/26/06 DTP it's great. i wonder how long did it take for the computers to render this movie... 5 stars
10/19/06 DJA I love this movie but if you don't know much about the plot, watch the reminecence first. 5 stars
10/15/06 Adam If you think of it as an epilogue to the game, it works. Otherwise.... 3 stars
10/15/06 Joe WHO EVER SAYS THE MOVIE IS CRAP DESERVES TO BE SHOT :P I loved the movie 5 stars
10/01/06 wktx Yes, AC has ist 4 stars
10/01/06 mec_doe i finished the game yesterday, it was amazing, but the movie could be better. 4 stars
9/29/06 phiuk yiu I don't give a fuck what anyone says. This film kicks ass. Especially Cloud vs Sephiroth 5 stars
9/25/06 10 I have not played the game, and yet I found the movie quite entertaining. Great effort 4 stars
8/30/06 Joe The plot's weak, but it's a real treat for your eyes. You'd better play FF7 first, though. 3 stars
7/03/06 Kerry Good point...next time try to understand it yourself before you call it incomprehensible. 5 stars
7/03/06 Derek um, one word for the reviewer.....NEVER PLAYED THE GAME BEFORE GIVING A REVIEW! Thank you. 5 stars
6/24/06 William Goss "If nothing else, it's flashy." Bingo. 3 stars
6/11/06 Jim FF7 is the best of the series but I found this movie baffling at times. Still worthwhile. 4 stars
6/06/06 DJM Keep watching it over and over 5 stars
6/03/06 Cameron If you didn't like this film, quite simply, your opinion is wrong. 5 stars
5/31/06 Tony Great visuals and creative way to continue the FF7 legacy. 5 stars
5/14/06 Jordyn Even though I never played the game, I understood it very well and it didn't bore me onebit 4 stars
5/12/06 mr.seraph the movie tries to cram the aspects of the game into it to please the games but fails 4 stars
5/11/06 Rick S. This reviewer must not have played the game ... I love this movie, and so do others. 5 stars
5/09/06 Darren Serwinek This film raped my senses. 1 stars
5/08/06 Niki stewart this movie was great 5 stars
5/07/06 Charlene Javier Loved the game, bored with the movie... 2 stars
5/07/06 Adam Great movie lots of action 5 stars
5/06/06 Johnny Deaton It was a gret movie, i really liked it 5 stars
5/05/06 Manuel flat out i expected more. meaning more story and not just terrible action scenes 3 stars
5/04/06 Lina Koltun This movie is an outstanding piece of work, the storyline is very clear. 5 stars
5/04/06 Goldwing GREAT!!!! I love the movie 5 stars
5/02/06 KC THis movie is GREAT! I thought you weren't very fair in judging the movie watch it again 5 stars
5/02/06 Paul I liked it. Unlike some, I liked the over-the-top action. 5 stars
5/01/06 Gael I'm a fan of FFVII but this was a terrible piece of filmmaking 2 stars
5/01/06 Gustav Margueriff A great sequel to one of the greatest RPG's of all time. Plot was sorta choppy, but fun 5 stars
4/30/06 Loka i've never platiyed FF games. awesome movie. no animation this great ever comes from US. 5 stars
4/30/06 Ronin This is VERY CLEARLY a movie for the fans of the game ffs! If you aren't one don't judge! 4 stars
4/29/06 joey the movie is only good if you know the story.. if you dont, then dont bother watching 5 stars
4/29/06 Ishin ookami The reviewer was dead on in everything, you have to be a hard core FFVII fan to enjoy this. 1 stars
4/29/06 Jared Wulterkens Loved the game, loved the movie....couldn't have asked for anything more. 5 stars
4/29/06 Mike Great movie, and even better if you've played the game 5 stars
4/29/06 Vincent The movie did go low on story but being a final fantasy fan i dont really care I enjoyed it 4 stars
4/27/06 ff7_ate_my_balls as if the first one wasn't bad enough... *myech* 2 stars
4/27/06 Sheldon In one word....crap 1 stars
4/27/06 Adrian This was awesome and I never played the game before. 5 stars
4/26/06 Jon A film for the fans, first and foremost. Just eyecandy without a plot for the uninitiated. 5 stars
4/26/06 Roxanne To viewers new to the series, some context may be lost, but fans of sci-fi will not find th 5 stars
4/26/06 Johnathon Brown If you know the source material its worth a look, otherwise you'll be at a loss. 4 stars
4/25/06 kfarschman Someone who bashes Final Fantasy, Rpg's, and CGi obviously won't like it (David Cornelius). 5 stars
4/18/06 Adrian To anime for people expecting a standalone affair, but Final Fantasy fans will feast on it. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  25-Apr-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 20-Feb-2007

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