Five years after the events of Final Fantasy VII (that’s the video game; yes, this is a sequel to a video game) a disease with almost no symptoms ravages (well, not really) the land, hitting orphans and Cloud Strife, a man given no back-story unless you’ve played the game. While Cloud bemoans his state, three white-haired bikers attack and kidnap the orphans. It is up to Cloud, and his old friends, who pop up without explanation, to defeat the strangers and stop the epidemic.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is a film for people who love Final Fantasy video games, but don’t want to be annoyed with actually playing them. If you like tossing around names like Cloud Strife and Aerith Gainsborough, but find picking up a game-controller just too exhausting, you may enjoy this film. You won’t enjoy it a lot, but nobody else will have a reason to even look at the box.
So, for fans, you get your favorite characters expertly animated; it’s CGI that puts the game version’s to shame. If you want to see Cloud and Tifa wave their hair about, well, you’ll be satisfied. Unfortunately, that’s all you get. Don’t look for any insight into their personalities or information on what they’ve been doing since defeating Sephiroth. There is absolutely nothing in the way of character development. There’s no romance and no one discusses his philosophy. And outside of learning that there is a small chunk of the alien Jenova in a box, you’ll get nothing about the world either. The filmmakers had to work to say so little. Only an expert could make a film so devoid of anything.
And don’t be fooled by the advertising that implies Aerith Gainsborough is back. She’s not.
For non-gamers, there are some guys (and girls) who attack other guys, and nothing ever says who any of them are. They all have powers of one kind or another, but you’ll never know what those are. One of the guys uses a ridiculously oversized sword which doesn’t look “cool,” just silly, and he mopes a lot for reasons that aren’t explained. The villains say they want their mother, and that’s all you’ll ever learn about them (actually, it isn’t much clearer for gamers). There are quite a few battles that you will have no stake in, and are staged with little excitement. It all leads to a climatic duel involving a guy who hasn’t been in the movie till that point, over a goal that is vaguely stated at best. Does this sound interesting? If so, I’m not doing my job.
While I mention the combat, because that’s when things finally happen, more time is spent with these unknown people gazing at nothing. They sigh, and then, with long pauses, say things like: “How do you (pause) live with (pause) guilt? (pause) It makes me (pause) feel (pause) guilty.” Yup, that’s about it.
I have never seen a movie that tried less to engage viewers who hadn’t already bought into the franchise. If you don’t know the video game, then you’ll get more from watching randomly flickering lights.