So, in addition to loving movies as much as I do (which I hope one realizes since this blog exists), I am also a functioning video game addict. Ever since I was a little kid and my parents bought me a Sega Genesis, video games have been as integral a part of my life as movies. I never really fully appreciated the medium’s ability to craft incredible and mesmerizing stories though until I was in the 4th or 5th grade and I received Final Fantasy VII for Christmas. It is, perhaps, the most beloved and recognizable RPG in video game history with a story that has the stood the test of time again and again. A couple of weeks ago, I beat the game for the first time since middle school, and I decided that it’s film sequel Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children would make for interesting fodder for reviewing for this site, and while the film’s plot makes little to no sense, it does still serve as excellent fan-service to the legions of fans of the classic video game and is genuinely entertaining for those who grew up with that game as their introduction to the possibility of video game storytelling.

The original game told the story of Cloud Strife, a man suffering from amnesia who believes that he was a member of an elite military unit known as SOLDIER, serving the power company Shin-Ra which pretty much served as both the economic and political power of the planet the game takes place on. Cloud has been betrayed by Shin-Ra and joins the environmental terrorist group known as AVALANCHE, led by Barrett Wallace ( a man with a gun for an arm) and Tifa Lockhart, which is bent on bringing Shin-Ra down and protecting the planet. The story is complicated when a man known as Sephiroth appears bent on destroying the planet, and the layers of Cloud’s mysterious past begin to unravel. If the plot doesn’t sound that entertaining, please believe that I didn’t remotely do it justice or the numerous meta-textual subplots that it contained. Advent Children picks up where the game ended and I won’t discuss the plot of it too much because it honestly doesn’t make that much sense and it’s just an excuse to show off fantastic CGI animation (for the time anyways) and spectacularly choreographed battles.

This film is built on the rule that every scene must look as cool as humanly possible. And it succeeds. The rules of physics are regularly defied. The characters fly around like their characters on Dragon Ball Z, and Cloud and Sephiroth’s swords regular cut through feet of concrete and steel. Yet, it all looks freaking awesome. The fight against Bahamut looks just as cool as you think fighting a giant celestial dragon would. This movie is 6 years old now and all of the animation still holds up fantastically well. It might not look quite as good as some of the cut scenes in the game Final Fantasy XIII but that’s to be expected because of its age.

Part of the reason why this manages to succeed where so many other movie adaptions of games fail is that this movie was made by the people responsible for the games, particularly I’m referring to long time series director Tetsuya Nomura, who helmed this film as well. Nobuo Uematsu also returns to do the score of the film, and while many classic pieces from the original return, he also contributes several excellent new numbers. Nobuo Uematsu ranks along John Williams and Michael Giacchino as one of my all time favorite scorers. He has an impeccable talent for creating memorable music to accompany the action on screen. Unfortunately, the voice acting in the movie is extremely variable in quality. Quinton Flynn (Raiden from Metal Gear Solid) is excellent as Reno as are Mena Suvari and Steve Burton as Aerith and Cloud. The other performances seem really phoned in, especially the person voice-acting Tifa. It was atrocious.

The reason I love Final Fantasy VII so much is for its spectacular story, and as awesome as the fights and action in this movie are, it’s story is mediocre at best and that’s really unfortunate. The Final Fantasy moniker should only be used for productions of the highest quality and it’s a shame that it failed in such an integral way. Because of that, I can only recommend this to fans of the original game, and the score I’m posting for this is the score I’m giving it for fans. For non-fans, I’d knock off a whole letter grade if not more.

Final Score: B