When it comes to game franchises few compare to Square's (now Square-Enix's) Final Fantasy. The franchises 28 titles have amassed sales of 85 million units around the globe since the first game hit the NES way back in 1987. Of all those games Final Fantasy VII on the Playstation remains a firm fan favourite despite the somewhat disappointing ending. That's where Final Fantasy Advent Children VII steps in. This provides a fitting ending to the videogame, but as a feature length, direct to DVD and Blu-Ray, movie.
Two years have passed since the ruins of Midgar stand as a testament to the sacrifices made in order to bring peace. However, the world will soon face a new menace. A mysterious illness is spreading fast. Old enemies are astir. And Cloud, who walked away from the life of a hero to live in solitude, must step forward yet again...
If you walk into this film with little or no knowledge of Final Fantasy VII then prepare to be confused. The themes and characters are quite unique and if you go in blind it would be easy to walk out just as confused. That could, in part, go some way to explaining the very different reception this movie received with different reviewers. For my, this is a great conclusion to one of the greatest videogames of all time. For my wife, who has never played the game, there were moments of entertainment, but raised more questions then it answered.
Obviously aimed directly at fans of the Final Fantasy franchise, and especially those who know and love Final Fantasy VII this movie provides all the right ingredients that Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within did not. Characters taken from the games, a storyline that fills in more of the storyline, and plenty of action makes this a good action movie. The CG is certainly impressive, if a little plain in places, but this movie looks and sound the part and fans of the franchise would do well to check this out. Even if you've seen the original release there's enough new content here, and improved visuals (not just due to the higher resolution of the Blu-Ray) to make it worth another look.
Final Fantasy Advent Children Complete is presented on Blu-Ray at 1.78:1 meaning it will fill your Widescreen TV. The video has been encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec and the majority of the move hovers around the 18-24Mbps mark according to the PS3 we were running the disc on. The image is very impressive although there was the occasional scene (for instance the opening with the dust being kicked up by the motorbikes) where there appears to be some very minor and infrequent compression artifact. It will take a keen eye, and large TV, to spot them though so there isn't any major concerns. As expected, coming directly from a digital source means there are no film artifacts such as dirt or marks on the presentation.
In terms of the movies actual visuals this is an impressive effort. Originally conceived as a short film on a low budget the movie was finally given a full 90 minute runtime. The DVD release was impressive, but this version of the film has seen the filmmakers return to improve many of the visuals with better backgrounds, texturing and animation in places. Of course this new version of the film runs considerably longer too so there is plenty more to see.
Subtitles on this disc are provided in multiple languages with the English and English SDH tracks being accurate to the dialogue on-screen. Other subtitle tracks include Italian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Swedish and Turkish.
Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII (23:55): If you've played the Playstation game many years ago, or even the recent re-release on PSN then this will bring back a lot of memories. Essentially the entire storyline is played out with text on screen and set to the delightful music from the game. It's worth a watch to get a refresher before watching Advent Children actually.
Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII (29:43): This extra actually expands on the previous one by including storylines and scenes from other games in the franchise related to Final Fantasy VII.
On The Way To A Smile: Episode Denzel (28:07/HD): An animated cartoon which focuses on the young Denzel. It's presented in HD, but the image is actually a little softer then I expected and only offers 2 channel audio. Still, this offers quite a bit of back story to Denzel, and is worth a look.
Trailers (10:30/HD): Trailers for Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Complete from Jump Festa 2009, Tokyo Game Show 2008, DKS3713 2998, Tokyo Game Show 2007 and Square-Enix Party 2007.
Review By: Dave Warner