There's a reason why I didn't lump Square's Advent Children OVA (the straight-to-video sequel to Square's blockbuster videogame, Final Fantasy VII) as either an anime or a movie... There's no real plot -- just an hour and a half of some of the greatest computer animated action scenes ever rendered. No plot though.
This is going to be a very difficult review and rating for me... See, I enjoyed the show for what it was, but there is NO MEAT to the damn thing. Let me back up a little here. Let's go back to the original Final Fantasy VII video game so that this whole page can maybe start to make sense.
FFVII was Squaresoft's biggest thing ever when it first came out for the original Playstation gaming system (back in like 1997). It was bigger than sliced bread! It was bigger than Free Whore Night at the Sea Wench Pub... Wait, no. But close. Like I said in my full Final Fantasy review; FFVII was more or less Square's attempt at making a feature-length movie with tiny bits of interaction (where the "interactive" choices didn't even amount to anything in the end) to really keep the player glued to the screen. Then they made Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, which WAS a movie; just not a movie that really had anything to do with Final Fantasy. In that respect, Advent Children was much more in line with what I expected from Square in theaters back in 2001... Only with less plot.
Advent Children goes a little something like this: It all starts out with a quick refresher as to what happened at the end of the actual game. We see Red XXXIIIVIMIIX, the lion, running to a cliff with some red lion cubs in tow, and we catch him howling over the overgrown remains of Midgar City. That was a cool start, as it lets the viewer know that no, Square is NOT about to fuck you over and pretend that that finale doesn't happen now that they received free reign to tell another story with the characters from the game after that huge original ending. But then we jump blindly into the middle of battle after battle after battle between Cloud and three Sephi-wannabees, Tifa and a Sephi-wannabee, Cloud and Vincent against the three Sephi-wannabees, and the whole cast against a summoned monster... Oh, and Cloud against the Sephi-wannabees again... And again... Oh, and then Cloud versus the original Sephiroth too. Did I also mention the fight between the Turks and some of the Sephi-wannabees? Lots of fightin'... Loooooots of fightin'.
Very little storytelling.
The whole plot was basically about these three guys who resemble (but who are even gayer than) FFVII's big, bad guy, Sephiroth, and who try to get Jenova's head from what's left of Shinra Corp. (i.e. the Turks), but they don't know where to look for it. So they attack Cloud. Then they attack Tifa. But the orphans that Tifa and Cloud are taking care of are all sick with some sort of disgusting leprosy. Oh, and Cloud's got it too, but Tifa's still hot for his bod, though he can only think of Sephiroth... Yeah, it's almost as gay as it sounds... No, actually it's worse. Anyway, so the Turks hire Cloud to protect them from the three Sephi-wannabees (who claim to be Sephiroth's clone or his brother or something... I didn't quite catch that) while they try to... Well, quite honestly, I don't know what their plan was. Turk Rufus ended up just handing the head of Jenova over to the three gaybees anyway, so all the fighting and shit beforehand was totally pointless. But there were TONS of really sweet looking fights throughout, so honestly, who gives a shit about plot holes big enough to fuck with a blue whale wang.
My quick explanation above may have sounded complicated, but it really isn't. Let me cut it down to it's most basic plot line to show you how stupid it is: Three Sephiroths show up and fight people. The Turks hide Jenova's head from the Sephis. Lots of fights. More fights. Couple more cool fights. Sephis get the head. Couple more fights. Status quo is maintained in the end. That pretty much sums it up.
Now, you may think that because I like long, complicated movies (that one has to watch 3-4 times in order to fully comprehend them) that I HATED this
film cgi-fest. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. I have been a fan of computer animation since The Mind's Eye and Beyond the Mind's Eye first came out. Scratch that. What I meant to say is that I've been a fan of GOOD computer animation since then. Live action movies and TV shows, and anime that just chuck in a few cgi backgrounds or cgi objects without making sure that they blend in with the rest of the actors or animation in the least (like the Fantasdick 4 movie and the Initial Deez Nuts anime) make my eyes bleed. Final Fantasy VII - Advent Children is made up of some of the BEST cgi I've ever seen. There are a couple of shots in it that are so photorealistic that you will think that they actually filmed a real scene with real actors... But then Cloud will turn towards the camera and you'll see that his face is a little too cartoony to be real... But that's the STYLE of the show. That's what they were going for. And let me tell you something -- it works.
I was never bored during the entire 90 minute feature (the credits are like 10 minutes long, bringing the whole runtime to 100 or so minutes, but that info is just for those of you who have to know EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING. Get a life). There were lots of fun, insider revelations or jokes going on throughout the DVD too. Seriously, anybody who never played or played but never made it past the 1st disc in the original game is going to be lost lost lost. "Lost" in a Jack, Locke and Sawyer kind of way. There is a joke that nobody who I saw this with originally got that had me rolling on the floor when I realized what was going on. It was the best use of a ringtone EVER... Well, at least the best since the League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse movie. There are also TONS of references to characters and situations that occured in the game, and they're usually just mentioned matter of factly in passing, without any background or further discussion. Personally, I was fine with that, but if you never played FFVII you are going to be reeeeeally confused. "Who's that chick in the pink with the braids? Who's that other soldier guy in the back of the truck with Cloud? Who's that ninja chick, that big black man with the gun for a hand, that goggle-guy, and that dude in the wheelchair who all just showed up? Is that lion's tail on fire?" Lost lost lost. Man, it totally sucked having to stop this thing every 90 seconds and explain the backstory to my sister and the Skipper. "Arrrrrr. So, that wench in the pink be dead? Why is that kid with the lousy haircut still talking to her? Blow me timbers! If I could talk to a fine piece of arse who croaked again I wouldn't be wastin' me time stumblin' over me own tongue. I'd shove me tongue down her throat faster than--" You get the point.
One thing about Advent Children that seemed to bug a few people I've talked to is its gratuitous use of the Matrix's "bullet time" effect. Every fight in AC uses it at least 3 times. Yeah, they take it to the next level (with lots of zooooooming and wicked-fast flybys), but it does stop the insane action right in the middle of it. I took it as a much needed breather (most of the fights are like watching two crack monkeys with rocket packs kicking the crap out of eachother in Benny Hill fast-forward speed) and as a good way to pace the battles. Otherwise it would just be too much too fast. You'll see what I mean if you watch it. The music was a little unstable too. Sometimes it would be a beautiful choral rendition of say Aerith's theme, or a full orchestra of the Final Fantasy Main Theme that brought a tear to my eye... But then the gorgeous tune would be cut short and intercepted by some lame techno beat that jarringly takes you out of the pretty FF world and into a gay disco. Sole music credit is given to Nobuo Uematsu, but I'm willing to bet that one or more of his musical lackeys threw their ideas into the mix since there's no way a god like Uematsu could mess up that noticibly. I refuse to believe it. Goddamn gay lackeys...
All in all I find that Advent Children was worth the price of admission. But to be honest, I'd much rather have seen a 26 episode retelling of FFVII's gameline in this kind of sweet animation. Or even better, FFVIII's story... Or even better still, FFVI's. Why the fuck did Square fuck up so badly with Final Fantasy Unlimited?!?
Oh, and that Final Fantasy VII - Last Order "bonus" animation that came out on the $400 Extreme Super Bonus Hyper Edition of Advent Children ain't worth the money it's printed on. Wait, what? It's just a 22 minute long, hand drawn animation of crap that we've mostly already seen or heard about in the FFVII game itself about Cloud's backstory. And although the animation is pretty good in and of itself in Last Order, after watching Advent Chillun, you just scratch your head and wonder "why the fuck did they hand draw this piece? They already had all the characters rendered. Just CGI the fucker!" Not worth it.
That was pretty! I really enjoyed this movie. True, I didn't have ANY idea what was going on, but that's probably for the best. If I did understand it that would mean that I was as big a geek as my brother... And I'm not. Yeah, I like the Star Wars and the ewoks, but I really don't like those video games he plays. I just don't get them.
He can sit still for hours and hours and just fight the same monsters in the same field or forest over and over again. Boooooooring. True, I do like that fighting game with that Chinese girl in it who kicks all the time. I can really kick butt with her kicking. Even my brother loses to me sometimes when I do nothing but make her kick like that... And NO, that is not cheating. You can't cheat in videogames, that much I'm sure.
So anyway, yeah, I really liked this movie, even though it was a sequel to a game. I did have to keep asking my brother what was going on all the time, but it was pretty confusing. Like where the heck did all those monsters keep coming from? What were those crystal balls (that those white-haired guys stole) all about? Who was that weird-oh with the towel on his head, and why did he keep that locked box with him? Ick! Was that really a person's head inside? It looked like green blood came out of it! Double ICK!!
Yes, very nostalgic. Yes, best CG designs you’ve ever seen. But damn, if you fanboys could stop circle jerking for all of ten minutes you’d be able to see what a mediocre piece of crap this was.
The animation for anything more action packed than pretty-boy Cloud posing with his cock in his hand were ass-tacular. Good god, who the hell thought that choppy, sped-up action followed up with constant Matrix bullet-time would mask the fact that the action looked worse than Virtua Fighter 1. If I wanted to see amazing skins on crappy animation, I’d go to the cheap nudi bar and watch those strippers that just stand there and don’t even dance.... Hell, I might just do that right now anyway.