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Customer Review

33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One for the Fans and CGI Enthusiasts, 7 April 2006
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This review is from: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2 Disc Special Edition) [DVD] (DVD)
Simply one of the best CGI movies I have ever seen. A beautiful work of art.

All the movie's locations are modeled in wonderful, unique detail and have a story of its own to tell like all good paintings. Most of the stories behind each location will be known by players of the original Final Fantasy VII game or its fans but there are also a few that is unknown to all.

One good example is the new city of Edge. A place of which we can see is built completely from scrap metal with its odd looking structures and transparent metal frames standing upright everywhere. The streets are bustling with people dressed in plain simple clothes painted in dull shades of grey. Vehicles drive among the crowds of adults with no sense of organization whatsoever, while abandoned orphans sit in the side alleys, some in bandages stained in an ominous black substance. No tree, flower or even a blade of grass can be seen apart from the looming ruins of Midgar in the background. An air of sullen despair lingers.

Other locations include the tranquil church, the ancient Forgotten City filled with dimly glowing white trees and the great ruins of Midgar itself, with the giant broken cannon standing at its centre.

Wishing to add extra depth and meaning to what you see, the staff also added in symbolic objects such as the angel statue that would appear now and then between scenes. What they symbolize is up to the viewer to ponder about.

CGI enthusiasts will notice the great amount of work the Visual Works staff put into this movie as separate teams were responsible for the simulation of clothing and the way hair flows. Materials look authentic and reflect the way they should such as the smooth reflective look leather clothing has, with wrinkles etched into it. We even see how a leather glove stretches realistically as it gets pulled onto the hand. Other notable effects include how strands of hair collide with one another as they flow in the air. We don't see any hairs "cutting through" each other. Clothing also creases accordingly as characters move around in different environments.

Plot-wise though, the story is very thin. The short story summary you find at various retail sites pretty much sums the movie up. This is probably due to the reason that it's a sequel aimed more towards fans of the original Final Fantasy VII game. The movie's done in such a way that it expects you to already have a grasp of what's happened in the game. While The Spirits Within had an exclusive story for its movie, FFVII:AC continues a story. So if you've never played or read about it then, you will most likely be confused about what's happening as old friends and enemies alike reunite. The opening introduction does a fair job of explaining what has happened but obviously omits a lot of detail.

Fortunately, the DVD gives you the option of reviewing what happened in the game. The staff behind the movie also attempted to design the movie so that casual movie viewers can always watch it as part of the action genre. Battle scenes are stunning and very fast-paced with moments of slow motion blended in for those critical moments.

Sound effects are solid with the clashing of metal swords, firing of guns, heavy explosions and footsteps resounding on hollow wooden floors being very convincing. Music has been chosen well too as the music done by Nobuo Uematsu's rock band, The Black Mages, blend in well with the furiously intense fight scenes or where the dark enemy lurks. Besides that, Uematsu's orchestral compositions also appear now and then to enhance the mood.

In one scene where one of the main female characters is battling it out with one of the enemies, the fast piano score "Those who Fight" is used instead of a rock tune. The piano is well known for its elegance and by choosing such a score, it really brought out the beauty in the female character while at the same time, highlights the power and intensity of the fight.

For FFVII fans, nearly everything you were familiar with from the game makes an appearance such as the locations I mentioned above. The cast of characters remain true to their traits; Cloud still carries an oversized sword about with him, Yuffie still has motion sickness, Cid still talks with his disgruntled voice, Vincent still lurks around in his red cloak and of course, the Turks remain as hilarious as ever. Then there are the familiar tunes such as the character theme songs, "Jenova" and of course, the unforgettable Jimi Hendrix inspired "One Winged Angel". Nearly everything is present apart from Chocobos.

A lot seemed to have happened in the two years of FFVII. Once you start playing the movie, fans will already find themselves a bit lost as the camera flies through the newly constructed city of Edge and reunites them with the original game characters.

However, answers and what happened during the last two years can be found by reading the two short stories in "On the Way to a Smile", written by the scenario writer Kazushige Nojima, bridging the gap between the game and the movie. The first story was published a few weeks before the DVD release in Japan on the official Japanese movie website.

Unfortunately, the stories are only available in Japanese at the time of writing this. It would have been great if these stories were translated and included as a booklet with this Western DVD release of the movie. An essential read that can change your entire perspective during the movie. It certainly did for me.

Overall, other than the thin storyline this is a great movie to watch many times over for both FFVII fans and CGI enthusiasts.
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