Every Final Fantasy fan knows that when it comes to movies, Square Enix might not be the best choice to produce. The Spirits Within wasn't released to especially glamorous reviews. But with Square Pictures dead and gone, Square Enix might yet surprise its fans with another venture into the silver screen market.
From director Tetsuya Nomura, responsible for Kingdom Hearts; produced by Yoshinori Kitase, the director of Final Fantasy X; and written by Kazunari Nojima, the writer of Final Fantasy X, comes an all new cinema masterpiece: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.
Maybe "masterpiece" is a bit premature, but anything to do with Final Fantasy VII is sure to inspire anxiety and anticipation in its fans. This is hardly surprising, as FFVII is the most popular product Square Enix has ever released. For years, the RPG fan public has been hungry for a sequel, a side-story, anything related to FFVII to appear. Finally, that hunger might be satisfied.
The original game was released in 1997 on the Sony PlayStation to a curious public. It presented them with the first truly cinematic RPG on the then-new console. Wild ARMs and Suikoden, among other titles, had already come and gone. While good in their own right, they couldn't completely fulfill the expectations of the 32-bit generation. That was left to Square Enix (then Squaresoft) to tend to.
Final Fantasy VII starred a spiky-haired hero named Cloud Strife who, along with his comrades, battled against the world-renowned villain, Sephiroth. Along the way they also contended with the penultimate faceless corporation, ShinRa; its elite squad the Turks; and the genetic monstrosity Jenova. Of course, like any good band of heroes, they won the day and saved the world.
At the very least, it seemed that way. Enter Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Although there's been a decent bit of clamor over the format of FFVII:AC, it is indeed a movie. The film will run approximately an hour and a half and be rendered entirely in CG. The story takes place two years after the events in the game and concerns a new virus which is plaguing humanity: The Star Scar Syndrome.
Trailers and press releases have revealed that Cloud, Barret, Marlene, Tifa, Yuffie, Vincent, Cid, and Red XIII all make appearances. Fans of the Turks need not worry, as both Rude and Reno have been sighted. In addition to the returning cast, three new figures have also come forward to challenge Cloud and company. These are Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo. Additionally, there have also been scenes showing Kadaj bowing down to a cloaked man in a wheelchair. This figure's identity is wholly unknown, but much conjecture has been thrown about as to the mystery.
Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo all bear a striking resemblance to the late Sephiroth, and there has been rampant speculation on whether they have connections with him or not. Nothing has been confirmed, however. Sephiroth does make an appearance in a flashback, using a scene lifted and updated from the original game. One other notable scene also shows Aeris, the flower girl from the game and a character who has been sorely missed by many fans.
Nobuo Uematsu will be fulfilling the role of music composer, ensuring that many familiar themes will appear in the movie. Uematsu is perhaps the best known composer in the video game industry, having worked on virtually every Final Fantasy title, as well as several other Square Enix projects. Among his best known compositions is 'One Winged Angel', the orchestrated, Latin-chorus final battle theme from FFVII.
The visuals in the movie are extremely high-quality. Square Enix has always been known for excellent cinematics, and while their movie, The Spirits Within, showed off just how realistic CG can get, Advent Children may yet top it. TSW focused largely on realism, doing away with the anime inspirations of most Japanese games. FFVII:AC however has taken a more stylized route, balancing realism with retaining the original character designs.
The hunger of eight years may finally be satiated when Advent Children releases in Japan this Autumn. Nothing has been confirmed as to a North American release, but fans should stay posted as the situation may change.