FFVII Advent Children: completely unremarkable director’s cut edition

[[image:090423-adventchildrencomplete.jpg:Is that a control stick in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?:center:0]]

Poor Final Fantasy VII. If you hadn’t been so wildly popular, such a spectacularly successful smash hit for Sony’s fledgling disc-based console, perhaps you would have remained a happy memory. But that’s not how things worked out. When you sell more than 10 million copies and introduce a new generation of gamers to the role-playing genre, it’s hard to be bound by the realm of nostalgia. It makes me wonder who’s more to blame for the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII nonsense — Square Enix, eager to whore out their most popular characters for all the money they can grab, or the fans, who eagerly lap it up and still clamor for that PS3 remake.

The whole thing really began with Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Now, just three years after the release of the original movie, Advent Children Complete is out, resplendent in 1080p and jammed with 25 minutes of extra footage. Supposedly it’s not the end of the line for the Compilation, but it’s all we’ve got for the foreseeable future.

And that’s a shame, because Advent Children Complete does little to improve upon its predecessor. Even though a few of the new scenes smooth out the movie’s rough narrative flow, it’s almost like pumping water out of a sinking ship — the story was already hopelessly dumb, and the added exposition can only improve the presentation, not deliver a cure to the heart of the problem. Plenty of action movies have lamebrain plots and make up for it with explosive eye candy, so it’s a little perplexing why ACC spent only a few of those extra two dozen minutes bolstering its flashy, gravity-defying fight scenes. Even at two hours and six minutes, the film feels too long, and the very fans it caters to will likely be the ones most disappointed by the additional footage.

I do feel bad simply disparaging the film, though; despite the silly plot and been-there-done-that emo character arc Cloud undergoes, I mostly enjoyed Advent Children when I first saw it three years ago. I didn’t expect an amazing story, and I’m still impressed by the dizzying choreography in the action scenes. For a team that had never before produced a movie, they turned in an admirable first-time effort, but it’s hardly a worthy follow-up to a game as monumental as Final Fantasy VII. Whether you love it or not, there’s no denying its impact, but nearly every memorable character from the game gets pushed to the periphery of Advent Children.

I’d hoped that ACC might rectify that problem by giving the game’s best co-stars — specifically Barret, Cid, and Cait Sith — the screen time they deserved. Spoiler warning: it doesn’t happen. They’re just as unimportant as ever, showing up to provide a few minutes of relatively useless assistance and then sticking around to make sexist comments to Yuffie (which is by far the better contribution to the film). I know it’s really Cloud’s story, so pining for more Barret or Cid was a hopeless venture from the beginning. But just imagine the possibility of a sailor suit Barret flashback and tell me that wouldn’t instantly make Advent Children twice as awesome.

If you’ve seen the original, ACC probably isn’t worth your money — unless you’re a sucker for HD video, anyway. Still, if you’re going to import it or wait for the June 7th release date in the US, be on the lookout for some more fun antics featuring Reno and Rude and Marlene’s new Barret impression — it’s easily the best scene added to the film.

7 thoughts on “FFVII Advent Children: completely unremarkable director’s cut edition

  1. AC sucked, but I am a sucker for HD video. However, I’m disgusted by the idea that Square-Enix has the balls to release a movie on BD and then simply upscale 75% of it. Three years of work to add half an hour of footage and they can’t be bothered to type some numbers into a computer and rerender it? Screw that. I wouldn’t buy that BD for a penny unless they rerendered it for the US release (not very likely).

  2. The old scenes still look pretty good — on the whole, it’s very nice looking, at least at 720p — but there is a noticeable step up in quality during the new scenes that’s almost instantly obvious. I don’t know what the deal is with that; could they have designed or scaled down all their material to a lower res, thus making it effectively impossible to truly render it in 720p or 1080p?

  3. Wait, I was under the impression that it was rerendered? I thought that was one of the selling points, that it was completely rerendered with things like more sweat, dirt, and grime.

  4. I seem to be one of the few people who loved AC. Not because of the story; I was actually wasn’t expecting much in that department. What I was expecting was a mindless-popcorn-action movie, and that’s what I got.

  5. It surprises me that they didn’t render the movie at higher than SD resolution when they were originally making it. They would definitely have known about HD TVs at the time and would have known that there would be [i]some[/i] HD movie format even if the war between the consortiums was still ongoing back then.

  6. This should be a showcase for B;u-Ray. Square screwed it up and I’m not buying it twice until they fix it, if they even can.

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