Final Fantasy VII Advent Children © 2005 SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved
The world of Final Fantasy was introduced in 1987, and since then, that franchise has spawned a countless amount of games that bear the same name. Once again, Final Fantasy has made it to the big screen with a sequel to the widely acclaimed Final Fantasy VII game. Final Fantasy VII Advent Children is being well received by FF fans around the world, mostly because of the cult that Final Fantasy VII had already created, but also because of the CG quality of production. I have to clarify that I am not a FF fanatic, which means I am not writing from a fan’s viewpoint.
Sephiroth © 2005 SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved
The movie Final Fantasy VII Advent Children is set two years after the events of Final Fantasy VII. A strange sickness, known as Geostigma, struck the children in the city (and the entire world, I would assume). Cloud, one of the main characters, due to guilt, decided to live alone because he blames himself for Aerith's death.
In the meantime, three brothers arrive to the city looking for their mother and plan to bring back Sephiroth. As you may guess, they eventually accomplish their quest, and Cloud saves the day. At first I felt the story was rather shallow. Thankfully a friend explained FFVII’s back-story, so the second time I watched Advent Children everything made sense.
Yazoo © 2005 SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved
Although everyone has their own opinions as to the logic of the plot, there is one thing that everyone does agrees on — Advent Children can be considered the CGI event of the year. Although the characters retain their anime features — the character’s skin, hair, and clothing appear natural and extremely realistic. The same goes for the environments and props. Although, they are not photo-realistic, because they still have that "CGI" look. It's not like viewing the character Tifa for the first time and saying, "wait a minute, is that a CG character or a real woman?” ... however, the closing credits do show a photo-realistic version of the character Cloud riding his bike on a live-action road. Maybe it's not ILM, but it certainly was an excellent way to demonstrate the level of quality they can produce.
In today's animation standards, character animation is produced using motion capture; with the keyframe animation taking over when the moves became too complex or dangerous for the human performers. If you have seen MoCap before [as in scenes from Lord of the Rings], you will know that the motion is only as good as the performer. In Advent Children, the actors who portray the main characters move very realistically. However, the actors who performed the stunts (you know, the background characters nobody cares about) did a less than perfect job. Although this may not hurt the story in any way, I personally think, that attention to detail is important.
Vincent © 2005 SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved
When it comes to facial animation, again, the background characters are not featured with close-up animation, only the main characters. The background characters are only there to fill the empty spots and keep the action moving forward. Most of the main characters deliver very believable performances, which is very difficult to achieve. There are times however, when you feel they are either overacting or under reacting. For example, near the opening of the film, Yazoo says "Don't cry, Loz." Then we see Loz sort of crying, but to tell the truth he looks like he is laughing, not crying. On the other hand, Tifa seems to overact a lot, but I think that was meant to show off the film's "pretty face."
Cloud and Tifa and © 2005 SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved
The environments, on the other hand, are very detailed. The fields and forests stretch into the distance, which makes you feel like you are actually there. There is one particular scene that I love; when Cloud is riding to meet Rufus, where a continuous forest of trees surround the mountains — to add to the scene ... everything is flawlessly lit. The forest in the forgotten capital is also a nice environment, especially because of the "ice-laden trees" that make the place feels magical and ethereal.
As to the plot ... the movie could be considered average, and, unless you are a big Final Fantasy fan you won't find anything special about it. One of the biggest flaws is that most of the plot is just an excuse for an action sequence. For example, Loz appears at the church and finds Tifa there. They don't know each other but somehow they know they have to fight. He defeats her, and then he takes Materia and Marlene with him. Although it was an amazing altercation, you still wonder why they had to fight. Fans will not care about this, as they will be happy because they get to see Cloud and the others on the big screen.
Marlene © 2005 SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved
I am not saying the movie is bad, but FF fans hold version VII in such high esteem that I expected a lot more from it; nevertheless I can't expect a 90-minute movie to be even half as good as the original 60-hour game.
If you are a die-hard fan you will be pleased. In fact, many fans consider Final Fantasy VII Advent Children to be the best-animated movie — ever! If you are into computer graphics, then this movie is a must see.
However, if you want to view it just because you had fun watching Shrek or The Incredibles ... Advant Children might be a let down. If you are not a fan of the previous versions of Final Fantasy, I would advise you to be sure and watch the movie at least twice. Watching it a second time you will discover new twists to the plotlines that you didn't the first time, and, in the end, that is what I really liked about the movie.
Cloud © 2005 SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved
There is something I am eager to know, and that's if Square Enix will be making additional CG movies; either related to the Final Fantasy realm, or even better, movies based on other titles, or even original stories that will not be aimed exclusively towards Square fans.
There is one thing that everyone will agree upon — Final Fantasy VII Advent Children is indeed one of the biggest events in the CG Industry for 2005.
the official Square Enix - Final Fantasy VII Advent Children web site.
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is a regular featured column
with Renderosity Staff Writer
Sergio Rosa [nemirc].
December 5, 2005