Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children (2004) Movie Review

Guest Movie Review by Alex Lui For followers of the Final Fantasy games, “Advent Children” comes as a reward for those long hours spent in front of the TV pushing buttons and ignoring a social life. For everyone else, this is pure eye candy, especially since the film has a story continued from the game, with no background setup whatsoever for anyone not already familiar with the movie’s world. Since I have never played a “Final Fantasy” game, the only question running through my mind after the movie finished was, “Uh…what just happened?”

The plot of “Advent Children” takes place two years after the events of “Final Fantasy VII”, wherein a disease called ‘Seikon-Shoukougun’, or ‘Geostigma’, believed to have been caused by the body fighting off foreign material from two years earlier, is becoming a pandemic, and has affected many orphans. An ex-soldier named Cloud Strife (Takahiro Sakurai) has also been afflicted with the disease, resulting in his decision to live a secluded, solitary life away from many of his friends, although he does continue to work at “Strife’s Delivery Service”, located in Tifa Lockheart’s bar, the Seventh Heaven.

Tifa (Ayumi Ito) is Cloud’s love interest, and tries to understand Cloud’s guilt-ridden behaviour while at the same time operating a bar that also serves as an orphanage for children stricken with the Geostigma. She also keeps an eye on Barret’s six-year-old daughter, Marlene (Tsuduruhara Miyuu), while Barret searches the planet for an alternative energy source to the fossil fuel Mako. After a confusing battle with some gang members claiming to be looking for their “mother”, Cloud receives a phone call from the former Shinra, Inc. president Rufus (Toru Ôkawa), asking him for protection from a mysterious man named Kadaj (Shotaro Morikubo). Kadaj and brothers Loz (Kenji Nomura) and Yazoo (Yûji Kishi) are the ones searching for their “mother”, believing that Cloud knows where to find her.

If the plot sounds complicated, that’s because it is. And I haven’t even mentioned a talking dog, a magic “lifestream”, and some psycho orphans yet. However, the fault does not lie with director Tetsuya Nomura, who shows a deft hand at capturing the battles by not opting for frenetic camera movements and quick-cuts as a matter of course. The film’s highlight is an action scene between Tifa and one of the brothers, even if the scene in question has camera techniques borrowed from “The Matrix” movies. Then again, who hasn’t borrowed from “The Matrix”? The blame for the film’s ultimate failure goes to screenwriter Kazushige Nojima, who elects to alienate everyone but the core Final Fantasy fans by simply refusing to provide proper exposition for anyone not already familiar with the movie’s history.

On the plus side, “Advent Children” is the product of Square Company, who has been responsible for most of the Final Fantasy games, and has a knack for creating sumptuous visuals. In the case of “Advent Children”, Square has succeeded once again. The futuristic planets in the film are marvelous to look at, and the vehicle designs very interesting, including a motorcycle that looks like a pod-racer from “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.”

When reviewing “Advent Children”, it is impossible not to mention two other movies, the Japanese sci-fi action film “Casshern” and the CGI movie “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within”. Although those two movies are very much derivative and unoriginal themselves, they at least had something “Advent Children” didn’t, which were storylines beyond the games. And besides a script that actually bothered to explain itself, they also had great popcorn value. “Final Fantasy: Advent Children” doesn’t even have those things, mainly because trying to understand the plot means giving the movie a certain level of thought and attention. However, with characters that are hard to care about and a story that seems tailored for fans only, what’s the incentive for non-fans to spend the effort to understand it?

So yes, “Final Fantasy: Advent Children” is great to look at, and has some of the best CGI action scenes you’re liable to see all year. Unfortunately, that’s about all the movie has going for it. Which is a shame, considering the time, money and effort spent on the production values, which at this moment is the only thing about the film worth paying attention to.

Tetsuya Nomura, Takeshi Nozue (director) / Kazushige Nojima (screenplay)
CAST: Takahiro Sakurai …. Cloud Strife (voice)
Maaya Sakamoto …. Aeris (voice)
Ayumi Ito …. Tifa Lockheart (voice)
Tsuduruhara Miyuu …. Marlene (voice)
Keiji Fujiwara …. Reno (voice)
Kyosuke Ikeda …. Denzel (voice)
Yumi Kakazu …. Yuffie Kisaragi (voice)
Yûji Kishi …. Yazoo (voice)

Buy Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children on DVD