My family might be the biggest bunch of ‘Final Fantasy’ fans you will meet. My wife and her brother live by ‘Final Fantasy VII’. They could tell you every line in it and detail you every sequence. Mine was ‘Final Fantasy X’. I love the characters in the game so much that I have actually watched it as a 10+ hour movie on YouTube and mastered it over 100 hours when I was a young man. These games are like epic novels that breathe.
If only the movies could be nearly as good. The first attempt at extracting the name was in ‘Final Fantasy:The Spirits Within’. A beautiful looking movie with an interesting concept, but the characterization and execution of the action sequences were off. It had its moments here and there. However, you would be hard pressed to find a single person who remember that movie with much specificity. It had the convoluted story of the games, but not the great characters or wondrous action.
Next, they tried to give us a sequel to ‘Final Fantasy VII’ and it managed to fill in the blanks on what was missing with the previous incarnation. There were tons of extended action sequences with absolutely beautiful animation and great characters pulled straight out of the game. The problem was that the story sucked, the dialogue sucked, and the sound design left the beautiful action sequences without much intensity. I have watched it casually with my kids a few times and it’s cool to check out visually, but overall a pretty weak film.
The latest attempts to remedy all those mistakes, but makes a few new ones. ‘Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV’ is certainly a big step forward from a narrative perspective and worth watching if you plan on playing the new game. Yet, the question of whether it works as its own self contained movie is hit and miss. There are a few important questions that must be filled in with the game and the backstory for the world is a bit confusing. I’m sure if I watched it a few times I’d feel I understood it more (it makes enough sense to get you through the simple story), but it’s still a head scratcher.
The characters of consequence are King Regis (Sean Bean), Nyx Ulric (Aaron Paul), and Lunafrey (Lena Headey). King Regis is essentially the good King who has lots of power. He shares this power somehow with a group of knights called the Kingsglaive and Nyx is the leader of sorts. Well, he’s the most powerful and a war hero. Lunafrey is a Princess who is supposed to wed King Regis’s son (a character we never see, but will be the focus of the upcoming video game) and has a good rapport with Regis. Unfortunately for her, she is being used as a pawn in a deadly game.
The real story here involves an evil group from Niflheim trying to take over King Regis’s city of Lucis through a treaty that will lead to a whole lot of action. They do this to try and end a war, but it’s really just a step in the war that will continue to go on in the video game. Which is fine, but it leaves the audience feeling a bit like you just watched a really long episode of a television show. That might be okay considering how good TV is today, but is it okay for a movie to be a prelude to something else? I’ll let you be the judge.
Now, let’s cover the good. The animation is outstanding. The action sequences are exciting, beautiful, and mostly well put together. The sound is dramatic this time around and really delivers the impact. The dialogue is better here and the story feels more rounded than previous films. It’s not great or anything, but it’s an improvement on the last films. The voice actors are all good. And the main characters get some time to shine here (even if they are all underdeveloped).
The bad really boils down to some simple choices by the filmmakers. In the early scenes, there are a ton of fades that make it come off like an elongated music video. It’s very distracting. Then, at the end of the film, some of the action is completely indiscernible. It’s only in bits and pieces, but I couldn’t tell who’s monster was who at times. It’s a beautiful mess. There’s also the narrative issues I mentioned earlier, but I won’t tread that ground again.
So, if you are planning on buying the game than this is a must buy. I’m not going to tell you to run out and see it, but I’m not going to tell you not to. It’s really up to you. It’s an improvement on the others, but still a messy movie overall.
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