Advent Children in its original form is far from a great film. However, it did serve its function as the most expensive fan-service created to date. Continuing the story of Final Fantasy VII, Advent Children treated fans to a gorgeous, albeit nonsensical, film filled with over-the-top action sequences. The upcoming Blu-ray release of Advent Children Complete goes a long way into bettering the film, however fans may be upset that a large majority of the new footage is dedicated towards characters not from the original PS1 RPG.
For the uninitiated, Advent Children was an impossible-to-follow film that relied too much on the legacy of the Final Fantasy VII anthology. Advent Children Complete, surprisingly, pads the film to make it a far more accessible film than the original. Geostigma, the mysterious disease that plagues the citizens of this world, is humanized by newly added scenes surrounding Denzel, a child whose role becomes fleshed out in this director's cut. Through the eyes of Denzel, we can better understand the chilling effects of the disease, and the desperation of those that are infected with a seemingly incurable and lethal disease. The film's villains, Kadaj and company, stood out as two-dimensional leather-wearing freaks. The Complete cut makes their intentions, plans and outfits all the more obvious.
The two hour run time for the Complete gives director Tetsuya Nomura a better opportunity to explain the Geostigma, and he succeeds in humanizing Cloud. Yes, the blond haired hero is just as emo as ever, but Complete gives further insight into the character. Integrating footage from Crisis Core reminds the viewer of how much Cloud has gone through, and adds a necessary gravitas to the film. While lengthy, the new cut does something the original failed at -- make sense.
Although Complete is a largely improved film, it still suffers from many of the same problems that plagued the original. Nomura still has trouble pacing and sequencing these scenes, creating an unnecessary (and perhaps unintentional) ephemeral effect that makes the story difficult to follow. Much of the supporting cast falls victim to Nomura's "style over substance" mantra, with many characters relegated to being mere caricatures. In spite of all of Complete's improvements over the original, it's clear that Advent Children is still a very flawed, oftentimes unenjoyable, film.
Advent Children is almost four years old now, but the quality of the CG holds up remarkably well (a testament to how advanced Square Enix's rendering capabilities were back then). The newly rendered scenes look just as polished, if not more so; the additional blood and dirt added to characters during fights does make for a more visually compelling look. The quality of the Blu-ray transfer was impressive enough to make for a comfortable viewing experience at a theatrical screening. Videophiles, however, will notice that some scenes suffer from poor compression issues.
The English dub on the disc is competent, but purists will undoubtedly choose the Japanese language track with subtitles. While the English performances are more than adequate, the dub syncing is noticeably off at times. Perhaps the added resolution of the Blu-ray transfer makes the dubbing a bit more apparent.
The US version of Advent Children Complete won't include a demo of Final Fantasy XIII, unlike the Japanese release. It will, however, include a "special sneak peak" which we weren't privy to at the early screening. Ultimately, the quality of the film is what purchases must be based upon. Although ultimately a flawed film, Complete offers a far more enjoyable viewing experience over the original. The added visual fidelity added by Blu-ray, coupled with a more consistent story, may be enough for fans to pick up the disc. The Blu-ray will be available on June 2nd.
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