Many people view Final Fantasy VII as the video game equivalent of the second coming of Christ. In a 3D world, a party comprised of different professions embark on a pilgrimage to rid the planet of evil, eventually leading to the death of a martyr which was planned by a fallen angel - that sounds nothing at all like the biblical story of Jesus.
20 years down the line and the world is still obsessed with the time when not all Final Fantasy protagonists were comprised of brooding teenagers with swords that made them look like they were compensating for something.
With the inevitable remake supposedly on its way and Tetsuya "belt-buckles-and-chains" Nomura at the helm, I can't help but worry that yet another classic might be converted into something so generic it makes future generations avoid the franchise like a plague of locusts.
For those who were still in their mothers' wombs back in 2005, Tetsuya Nomura's first shot at directing anything Final Fantasy VII-related was in the CGI fantasy movie, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.
Taking place two years after the events of the PlayStation classic, this mess of a film abandoned the feel of the game in favor of a very serious story, complete with a main protagonist who changed from a lighthearted fellow into an emotionless boy band member whose attempts at going solo weren't fruitful.So join me as we revisit the world of Gaia and see just how this movie fooled newcomers into thinking that Final Fantasy VII was all about wearing black clothes and moping about everything under the sun.
To start off, the story told was total taff. Never mind the horrible English dubbing (because watching the movie with that on counts as a mortal sin), but the two main focal points of the film were told in such a way that even the most dedicated fan would forgo them in favor of playing the game.
The first main focus of the film centers on the trio of Kadaj, Loz, and the unfortunately named Yazoo as they try to resurrect Sephiroth, a supposed rock legend with hair as long as his gigantic katana, through the retrieval of the head of Jenova (a literal alien) and an incurable disease called Geostigma. I couldn't make this up even if I wanted to.
You would think that the idea of bringing back one of video games' most iconic villains would be a good plot point, but Advent Children banks on this known fact all throughout the movie that it fails to focus to any of its other characters, save for one.
With the film's second focus on Cloud Strife (that blond-haired kid with a sword the size of a surfboard and a migraine issue in dire need of some aspirin), viewers are treated to a 100-minute long film that zooms in on his beautifully stylized hair and his internal struggles after the death of Aerith (or Aeris).
The result is a movie that focuses on one character and his attempt to get over his grief without the use of therapy - which apparently involves a lot of sword-fighting and motorcycle-riding.
Let's get this out of the way: the only reason anyone would ever want to watch Advent Children is to see the fight scenes.
There are lots of these. Fight scenes on motorcycles, fight scenes in falling buildings, fight scenes within fight scenes - it's a real far cry from the turn-based slog that was the Final Fantasy VII battle system.
But what the movie makes up for in flashy action sequences and finely-rendered textures, it lacks in any depth or story.
What makes this movie so mind-boggingly bad is that it was made specifically for fans of the original title, yet borrows so little from the source material that no one can really enjoy it (kind of like every video game reboot out there).
Yes, familiar locales and characters make their appearances, but Final Fantasy VII had a lot of side stories and character development, none of which are referenced or carried over into the movie apart from the platinum-haired anti-messiah Sephiroth and the widely-known death of Aerith (both of which are played to death like a catchy Carly Rae Jepsen song).
When I said that it was only Cloud Strife who had any focus in the film, I didn't mean that in a good way. Though he does have an unhealthy amount of screen time, this version of the character spends the majority of the movie moping about everything and never really getting over it. His failure to save his friends, his loneliness (which he himself caused), his inability to look like a man, I could not find a single moment in the movie where he had any other emotion other than being depressed.
And while Square Enix focused on him, the rest of the cast suffered for it.
Though the film introduces a trio of new characters, all three of them serve little purpose than to parrot the same lines over and over, wanting to bring back their beloved Sephiroth like his mere presence could cure cancer and rain ice cream from the sky.
Characters like Tifa and Marlene have a couple of moments where they can at least speak two sentences without Cloud hogging their spotlight, but even they are reduced to minor characters that were there just to appease the fans and move the flat story along to the next action sequence.
And when all the party members finally reveal themselves, they treat Cloud like he's the only one who can really get anything done. Cloud wasn't the only protagonist in the game; that's like saying Frodo was the sole hero in Lord of the Rings because he was on the cover of the DVD and carried a piece of jewelry.
Even the much anticipated return of Sephiroth is a complete letdown that leaves him with as much screen time as his main theme song. These aren't the characters that the fans have come to love over the years; these are carbon copies with fewer dimensions than their original sprite counterparts.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is a movie that rides on the back of a game with as many fans as an appliance store. In wanting to make everything look cool and modern, the producers failed to realize that in order to make a good movie, you need more than just fight scenes and fan service; you need an actual story.
While die-hard fans of the game might still watch this just to see more of Cloud and company, they will be severely disappointed because what they'll get is a two-hour brood-fest that makes them wish Square Enix would just focus on making video games instead.