“Reunion” is a word used through out Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and that’s exactly what this movie is; a reunion of old friends on screen and a reunion for old fans off it. Disappointingly that leaves Final Fantasy newbies like me out in the cold; for a movie animated with such lavish detail, it’s such a shame that Square Enix decided to so narrow the scope of Advent Children, ultimately reducing it to little more than fan service and eye candy. This could have been so much more.
Set two years after the events of the Final Fantasy VII video game, Planet Earth is a mixture of barren wasteland and half shattered cities. An emotionally crippled Cloud Strife is haunted by the death of his beloved old friend Aerith and the rest of humanity is dogged by a strange plague known as the Geo-stigma.
Early on we also meet a grey haired trio of villains lead by an obviously insane young man called Kadaj. They are searching for their “mother”, other wise known as the “Calamity from the Sky”; Jenova.
So now the race is on; Kadaj and his comrades are looking to again grasp the power of Jenova and destroy Earth and Cloud, mired in emotional turmoil, is our only savoir- but first he must overcome his grief and once again embrace his compassion for life.
We may as well confirm what you should already know; Advent Children looks fantastic. Square Enix deserves an amount of praise just for the sheer detail that has gone into this; every character design, every fabric and every texture is a considered work of art, full of natural fluidity and shaded with an intense detail. It still looks undeniably like Japanese anime, but I think this is the first time I’ve seen human characters so expensively depicted in CG with such a serious, realistic spin. The first 10 minutes of Advent Children are an education in mind blowing animation, but then the story (or lack there of) kicks in.
To be honest, the plot isn’t nearly half as cryptic as I had expected it to be. Sure, there were a few technical terms that flew over my head, but any crippling confusion was put to rest by an early narration sequence that essentially summarised what happened two years prior. The themes of the movie itself aren’t too hard to grasp either; feeling the pain of losing a loved one, learning to get over said loss and approach life with renewed enthusiasm.
My real disappointment in Advent Children is just that it’s a generic action movie; we are told the villains hate Earth, but no compelling reasons are provided. The entire story seems based on the whim of a madman; “I just woke up today and decided that I hated everything”. Characters like Vincent Valentine and Reno flit in and out of the story, often muttering a few lines for their fans but basically adding nothing to the story. It’s a cliché plot, sprinkled with flashy, slow-mo action scenes, in which good takes on evil and I shouldn’t need to tell you how it all ends; a Hollywood movie star like Arnold Schwarzenegger could (and possibly should) have voiced Cloud. This whole movie is just an excuse to see the Final Fantasy characters do stuff; an unambitious and empty example of fan pandering.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is another example of an anime movie that looks stunning but suffers badly from a cliché and frankly dull story. It’s such a shame because had Square Enix had dared to take a chance here, Advent Children could well have gone on to global success- but as it stands, this has limited appeal; one for the avid Final Fantasy fans, Advent Children is merely an average action movie notable only for it’s visual splendour and nothing more.