Advent Children takes place two years after the events in Final Fantasy VII, and it introduces three new villains to our cast, as well as a few other characters. The world is being overrun with a disease called Geostigma, and many people are dying. Geostigma turns out to be connected to Jenova and her son Sephiroth—the main villains of the game—and the three new characters also consider Jenova their mother and plan to use some of her remains to revive Sephiroth.
Cloud returns as our main character and works as a delivery boy. He doesn’t really want to be caught up in anything else that’s going on, because he’s still coming to terms with Aerith’s death and being unable to save her. But when the three new villains kidnap a bunch of children suffering from Geostigma and with the threat of Sephiroth on the rise, Cloud eventually decides to stop moping around long enough to do the right thing and stop our new villains in epic, physic-defying battles.
Most reviews for this movie have been mixed. On the one hand, it had amazing CGI for its time. On the other, most people who hadn’t played the original game would have had trouble following its plot. I feel mixed about this movie for a different reason. I like it simply for existing and delving deeper into the world of Final Fantasy VII. However, this movie is completely pandering and clearly only exists as a cash cow for Square Enix.
Nothing in this movie makes much sense, and a lot of scenes should have been cut out while others should have been expanded upon. One thing that I think should have been cut was the physics-defying battles. Our characters might be really skilled in combat to a ridiculous extent in the game, but it makes no sense that they can spontaneously jump on air and collapse buildings with the swing of a sword in the movie. These action scenes only existed to look cool and advanced nothing. They were there because Square Enix wanted us to think they looked awesome. It’s to the point that Cloud and Tifa both use just about all of their Limit Breaks—special attack moves—from the game.
In the game, when we use the number system, I can understand how something might survive Tifa chucking meteors at it, but in a more realistic setting like a movie with realistic graphics, I have trouble seeing how Loz—one of the new villains—got Final Heaven’d by her and still managed to get up and walk around afterward.
Seriously, how did either of them come out of that fight alive?
Nor do I see how Cloud managed to survive being shot in the face at point-blank range. A lot of people say that his goggles were what saved him from certain death. I say that’s not how bullets on skin work. All of these action scenes are just so pointless and pandering, and even plenty on the non-action scenes are too. Right down to the ringtone on Loz’s cellphone. Also, bringing Sephiroth back to life was quite pointless and pandering as well.
Due to Cloud’s internal conflict, which isn’t even handled all that well to begin with, this movie should have cut a lot of these action scenes to deal with it, but why have characterization when you can have epic explosions?
Oddly enough, the only two decent characters in this entire thing are Reno and Rude. I say oddly, because in the game, all of the main characters were interesting, while here they’re boring. And although Reno and Rude take up a good portion of this movie, they only make occasional appearances in the game. In the game, they’re intriguing, but we don’t know a lot about them. They’re members of the Turks, a group of assassins working for Shinra; they provided some comic relief while still maintaining a serious and professional attitude. In Advent Children, they are just straight-out comic-relief characters.
In some ways, this is nice because now there are at least two characters that I can care about. Mostly I care about Reno, if only because his more vibrant personality makes him the only character I can relate to. But one thing that I noticed is that he got a complete personality overhaul for this movie. Here Reno is much more goofy and happy-go-lucky. He cares a lot more about humanity all of a sudden than he did two years ago. He used to murder people without question. Reno is the person who organized and dropped a ginormous fucking plate over a whole town, killing thousands. And he did it without question because he was ordered to. The Reno in this movie is not the same Reno in the game. The movie just rewrote his character, and I’d hate to say it, but I’ve seen plenty of fanfiction that do a much better job of dealing with his personality and justifying this change than this movie does.
I probably wouldn’t have noticed this if it hadn’t been for Reno, but every character had a personality rewrite, and none are as bad as Cloud. As I said earlier, Cloud’s issue is that he couldn’t save Aerith, and he thinks that he’ll never be able to redeem himself for that failure. Because I guess saving the whole world two years ago isn’t good enough. Kind of like Yuna in X-2, Cloud has no idea what to do with himself. And also like Yuna, he seems to be having a midlife crisis at the ripe old age of not-even-twenty-five. I guess once you save the world, there’s really nowhere else to take that.
Cloud had a lot of psychological issues in the game, but he still had a likeable personality. He could still take jokes, make friends, so on and so forth. We could still relate to him and like him. Here, he’s just depressed. Depressed and painfully boring to watch. Advent Children doesn’t really handle this properly, because it keeps shoving in things that don’t matter. Not only are the fight scenes too much and too long, the movie has too many characters. Eight of the playable characters from the game survive for this movie, and instead of just focusing on Cloud and Tifa, as it should have done, it goes out of its way to have all of them cameo for a pointless battle. I think Vincent is the only one outside Cloud and Tifa who does anything plot-relevant, and even Aerith’s ghost has to come back to make Cloud feel better about himself.
And then there are all the new characters that we have to deal with as well. There are the three new villains—Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo—and as far as I’m concerned, they all might as well be one person for all the personality they have. They are not developed at all and so I cannot care about them or find myself interested in them in the least.
Advent Children really wasn’t long enough to deal with all the characters it wanted to have. Even its extended version—which does better justify some things—didn’t have enough time to handle everything. I really think Advent Children would have been better off cutting a lot of parts to expand on others. Or it could have worked as an anime series. It would have had a longer running time then, so the plot wouldn’t feel like a rushed, sloppy mess, and it would have given us more time to connect with and relate to the characters. It’s not too much of a stretch since Square Enix did later release a short anime feature for VII. Or the other solution would have been to just not make this movie.