Saturday, October 19, 2013

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete Movie Review—Why didn't they release this first?

A few months back I went ahead and bought the blu-ray version of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children without realizing that it was a director's cut "Complete" edition. Imagine my surprise when I plopped it into the DVD player and scenes I knew and loved were "misremembered" (as I thought at the time).

Then I started freaking out.

Because not only was I misremembering these scenes that I had watched over 50 times before (when I first got FFVII: Advent Children on DVD I had it playing for a month straight), but all of the little annoyances and deliberate confusions in the original Advent Children were COMPLETELY REMOVED.

Here's the Amazon link:

It's kinda' crap that it doesn't appear on DVD, but oh well. This was the very first blu-ray I bought of a video that I already owned in DVD format, and it is beyond worth it. This version is the definitive version of Advent Children.

In the original video, there were a lot of poorly constructed, poorly written scenes that glossed over key plot points that left the viewer guessing at what was going on or how everything worked. Originally, I just chalked this up to general Japanese obstinance to constructing something that would be understandable.

(Hmm. Perhaps it's Square Enix obstinance more than Japanese obstinance, but then again, I think any big anime or Japanese video game fan has encountered what I'm talking about. Particularly in FF though, Square Enix seems to delight in misdirection (an understandable decision) as well as deliberately obscuring what the F is really going on (an unforgivable decision...which I end up forgiving EVERY SINGLE TIME).)

But then Advent Children COMPLETE comes out and shows that all of the confusions and obscurations of the original were just bad choices and the director knew it. So he went back and added close to 30 minutes of new footage along with better scene direction/writing (which they call "edits", of which over 1000 have been made). And it's SO much better.

In the original, you could get through it without having played FFVII the video game, and it would have still been enjoyable, but the obfuscations that plagued it made it THAT much more inaccessible. In the complete edition, everything is explained! The disease Geostigma is explained, remnants changing to Sephiroth is explained, character motivations are explained, what happened to different characters are explained, Denzel's existence is explained. SO MUCH IS BETTER. There was also some annoyances stemming from the movie seeming like a cell phone commercial pointlessly, this is lessened somewhat AND actually HAS A POINT in the Complete edition.

The action, as it ever has been, is fantastic. Wonderful, amazing, fantastic. They believably fight Bahamut SIN, a summon monster that easily destroys entire city blocks. It's badass. I would say that the original Final Fantasy VII Advent Children movie strongly influenced how I think magickal/superhero fighting should be and is reflected in my own works, and Advent Children Complete is even better. The final battle is noticeably changed and lengthened for the better.

Some have complained about the English voice actors, but I found nothing to criticize. I think those people are purists AKA douchebags. Seriously, they're synonyms. Look it up.

The Japanese voice actors are fine too. And their words at least fit the lip flapping a little better. I didn't bother watching it in French.

If you're a FFVII fan, get yourself a blu-ray player, and get this DVD...err, blu-ray. There are tons of nostalgia moments to recall, whether it's Yuffie getting motion-sickness, Tifa using the dilly-dally shilly-shally line (which Aerith uses in the original game, in spite of what some morons on online forums are saying), or seeing all of the different limit breaks throughout the battles.

It's not a perfect movie unfortunately. It does benefit from fandom and from at least knowing the basic plotline of the game. It would have been nice to see more of the rest of the group (only Tifa and Cloud are really prevalent, although Vincent comes in a close third to Tifa). Red XIII ridiculously only gets a SINGLE LINE in the movie. If you're a Turks fan, there's plenty of them in there (more so than Cid, Barrett, Yuffie, Cait Sith, Red XIII and Aerith), and I think Rufus features more prominently than Tifa!

All that said though, it's still freaking amazing and strongly recommended to watch even if you are not a Final Fantasy fan. If you like action, steampunk, sci-fi, fantasy, superhero, or anime, it's a must-watch.

Note: I mention steampunk because that is the feel of Final Fantasy to me. It's usually more gaslight fantasy than steampunk, and FFVII has a strong science fiction feel compared to the rest of FF, but to me FF is synonymous with steampunk.

Review: 9.0/10, A-
Zero Recommended

Oh, and there is a quick run-through available of the game in the special features called "Reminiscent of Final Fantasy"; new to FFVII: AC Complete, there is a "Reminiscent of Final Fantasy VII Compilation" which summarizes much of the various additional games that have been released in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII subseries. Additionally, the disc has the OVA "On the Way to a Smile" that falls between AC and Dirge of Cerberus and has some flashbacks to Denzel's past before Cloud, Tifa and Marlene.