It took its sweet time, but Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children – the CGI film arm of the new Final Fantasy VII triptych – is finally out (legally) in the West. I last saw it when I was in Japan seven months ago and can’t imagine why an English dub would take that long to record, but at least it’s here and I don’t have to rely on a typo-ridden fansub to understand most of it.
My impressions of the movie itself haven’t changed, even with the slightly better translation. I enjoyed it but it remains quite esoteric, assuming prior knowledge of the games by, for example, not even naming most of the original protagonists. The DVD addresses this slightly with the 25-minute ‘Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII’ feature which gives an abridged history, but even that is hard to follow and more useful for those like me who played a lot of the game but never finished it. Obviously it contains major spoilers for those who plan to finish it and somehow don’t know how it ends.
What will draw many people to this is the spectacular CGI. While characters fall short of looking completely lifelike as they did in the previous Final Fantasy movie, The Spirits Within, for my money they’re the best “realistic” CG humans on film so far, and since the whole thing is styled like an anime (no real hair can be that spiky) the occasional flaky animation doesn’t tend to detract. How does a person look when they’re backflipping off a skyscraper, anyway?
Either way, Advent Children remains an action-packed movie with some of the best high-flying combat scenes since The Matrix. It’s enjoyable as a purely visceral experience, which is probably why most exposition scenes are brushed aside in a few minutes to make room for another motorcycle chase. Not exactly deep, obviously, but good fun. Fanboy pornography, basically, and entertaining despite its vapid nature.