[[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.