With an excess of free time at home and the Final Fantasy VII Remake craze, I found no better time to get back into FFVII and take a look at the movie that got me into the series all the way in 2010: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. The movie premiered in April of 2005 (which is why I didn’t watch it then), and as a 9 year-old with no knowledge of the game it was based on, it instantly captivated me. Now that I have older eyes that have gone through the entirety of the original Final Fantasy VII, I wondered if the movie would have the same effect.
What’s first important to note is that, like the recent Final Fantasy VII Remake, the experience is vastly improved by prior knowledge of the original’s story. It can technically be watched by a non-fan (like I did) and they’ll likely still have an enjoyable time for the most part, but they’ll also be confused about the plot for the vast majority of it. The main appeal of Advent Children is seeing how beloved FFVII characters and settings evolved two years after the events of the original game. Character designs have matured, Midgar has a new huge and realistic look that was mostly likely the inspiration for its appearance in Remake, and as a fan it’s fun to see where different people are and what they’re doing after two years. The updated looks can still be enjoyed by non-fans for what they are, and the movie’s visuals are still impressive today, despite being released 15 years ago.
The actual storyline of the movie is not something I want to spoil, but I do want to mention a few aspects that should pique the interest of people that have already experienced the FFVII story and might shrug at the idea of retreading it: it takes place two years after the end of the game and does a great deal to spruce up the status quo. For example, it introduces the character of Denzel and three new surprisingly enjoyable antagonists: Kadaj, Loz and Yazoo. Apart from surprising changes done to well-known characters, the story is reinvigorated by the presence of the three new antagonists and their goals.
Advent Children’s other main selling point, apart from its extensive amount of fanservice, is its stunning presentation. My father and I (when we first watched it) were completely clueless about the many story details that were being thrown around, but we didn’t care too much because a lot of screen time is devoted to its various bombastic fight scenes. The fight direction, cinematography and soundtrack all work together to create grand elaborate battles that I can’t resist grinning at to this day. It’s said that the incredible action of Advent Children is one of the reasons why the Final Fantasy series has moved away from turn-based combat to real-time combat; it’s easy to see why when the mostly static animations of the original FFVII are upstaged by characters fighting in the middle of falling debris in the air or throwing motorcycles at each other. Yoshinori Kitase, Final Fantasy VII Remake’s producer, is even credited for stating: “Advent Children became a benchmark for us. When we were developing the game, the cutscenes and the fights that happen in them as well as the general combat and game itself we always think ‘how can we push this’? […] And it always turned out that we’ve got to meet that benchmark. We’ve got to get to what was shown in Advent Children.” Non-fans get to watch a spectacle, and fans get to watch on with glee as FFVII gets a proper sequel in the form of film.
If you’re currently hungering for more FFVII content as I am or you’re curious about the series but don’t have the tools to play its games, Advent Children is a fantastic way to spend an evening.
Originally Published on www.bandersnatch.ca Vol.49 Issue 14 on April 29th, 2020