FINAL FANTASY VII: ADVENT CHILDREN COMPLETE (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
May 24, 2009 by Dennis Amith
“This is not just a mere re-release, it’s a retelling of ‘ADVENT CHILDREN’ with 26 additional minutes, over a thousand revised scenes and a more coherent storyline. For fans who have enjoyed the original video game and have played the other ‘Final Fantasy VII’ games that have been released since the 2005 release of the original film, then ‘FINAL FANTASY VII: ADVENT CHILDREN COMPLETE’ is worth recommending on Blu-ray!”
TITLE: Revolutionary Road
DURATION: 118 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Aspect Ratio: 1.78, Language(s): Japanese, English, French (Parisian) Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Subtitles(s): Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin Simplified), Chinese (Mandarin Traditional), Dutch, English (UK), English (US), French (Parisian), Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish (Latin Am), Thai
COMPANY: SquareEnix/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: June 2, 2009
Directed by Tetsuya Nomura, Takeshi Nozue
Written by Kazushige Nojima (Event Scenario Writer)
Produced by Shinji Hashimoto, Yoshinori Kitase
Music by Kenichiro Fukui, Keiji Kawamori, Tsuyoshi Seikito, Nobuo Uematsu
Edited by Keiichi Kojima
Art Direction by Yusuke Naora
Costume Design by Takayuki Takeya
Takahiro Sakurai/Steve Burton (voice of Cloud Strife)
Ayumi Ito/Rachael Leigh Cook (voice of Tifa Lockhart)
Shotaro Morikubo/Steve Staley (voice of Kadaj)
Maaya Sakamoto/Mena Suvari (voice of Aerith Gainsborough)
Keiji Fujiwara/Quinton Flynn (voice of Reno)
Taiten Kusunoki/Crispin Freeman (voice of Rude)
Yuji Kishi/Dave Wittenberg (voice of Yazoo)
Kenji Nomura/Fred Tatasciore (voice of Loz)
Shogo Suzuki/Steve Blum (voice of Vincent Valentine)
Masahiro Kobayashi/Beau Billingslea (voice of Barret Wallace)
Kazuyuki Yama/Chris Edgerly (voice of Cid Highwind)
Yumi Kakazu/Christy Carlson Romano (voice of Yuffie Kisaragi)
Hideo Ishikawa/Greg Ellis (voice of Cait Sith)
Masachika Ichimura/Liam O’Brien (voice of Red XII)
Miyuu Tsuzuhara/Grace Rolek (voice of Marlene Wallace)
Kyosuke Ikeda/Benjamin Bryan (voice of Denzel)
Junichi Suwabe/Ryan Yu (voice of Tseng)
Megumi Toyoguchi/Bettina Bush (voice of Elena)
Kenichi Suzumura/Rick Gomez (voice of Zack)
Toru Okawa (voice of Rufus Shinra)
Toshiyuki Morikawa/George Newbern (voice of Sephiroth)
Continuing the storyline based on the hit Playstation(r) game Final Fantasy VII, two years have passed since the ruins of Midgar stand as a testament to the sacrifices made in order to bring peace. However, the world will soon face a new menace. A mysterious illness is spreading fast. Old enemies are astir. And Cloud, who walked away from the life of a hero to live in solitude, must step forward yet again . . .
In 2005, fans of the Square Enix Sony PlayStation video game “Final Fantasy VII” were excited when a new CG film was released and that video games based on the characters would follow. The film was well received by fans of the video game but was not received well by critics who were not well versed with “Final Fantasy VII” or the games that have come out afterward.
The DVD release in 2006 was successful as it became the first direct-to-DVD film to sell over a million copies, in fact worldwide sales were over 2.4 million copies.
But a lot has chanced since 2005. In fact, more backstory to “Final Fantasy VII” has been fleshed out with the release with an anime OAV series titled “Last Order”, of a mobile game (not released in the US) titled “Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII”, “Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII” for the PS2, “Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII” for the Sony PSP.
Here we are with “Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Complete”. Despite being announced at the Tokyo Game Show in 2006 for a Blu-ray release, Square Enix postponed the release until 2009. The main difference is that this film would feature 26 minutes of new footage and over 1,000 revised scenes. Although the Blu-ray scene in Japan has been slow compared to other countries in terms of copies sold, the release of FF7:ACC sold over 100,000 copies in its first day, the highest selling Blu-ray in Japan was “Macross F” which sold over 34,000 in 2008.
For the fans who played the video games that came after 2005, especially the Sony PSP video game “Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII”, it furthers the fan’s appreciation of this film. In fact, the new footage actually makes the film much more coherent and enjoyable. But like the original release of “Advent Children”, if one had no interest in the video game to begin with, nor have they had a vested interest in the “Final Fantasy VII” video game series, they probably still won’t get it. But as a person who has played the games (with the exception of “Before Crisis”), I felt that “FINAL FANTASY VII: ADVENT CHILDREN COMPLETE” was much more enjoyable this time around.
The film takes place two years after “Final Fantasy VII”, and the survivors of Midgar have started rebuilding efforts. But for some survivors, they have somehow attracted an untreatable disease known as “Geostigma”. Where green/black scars which start to ooze from a person’s body and eventually kill them.
We learn that Tifa and Cloud live together along with two orphans, Marlene and Denzel. But for some reason, Cloud has been distant and no longer communicating with his friends. While answering a call from Tifa, Cloud races back home but is attacked by three men, led by their leader Kadaj who are looking for their “mother”.
He receives some help from the Turks Reno and Rude who tell them that he needs to meet with someone immediately.
Cloud goes with them and discovers that the person he has to meet is the former Shinra President and the ruthless leader of the company, Rufus Shinra who managed to survive the destruction of Shinra but now has changed his ways.
Suffering from Geostigma and wheelchair bound, Rufus tells Cloud that he has changed his ways and now wants to protect the planet and wants Cloud to join him and the Turks to defeat Kadaj and the other two who are looking for Jenova. [note: This is where it's important that people have played "Final Fantasy VII" or most importantly, have played "Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII"]. Rufus tells Cloud that the three intend to resurrect Sephiroth.
Meanwhile, at Tifa’s home, we learn that the orphan Denzel is suffering from Geostigma and his health is rapidly deteriorating. Marlene, the other orphan try to keep him comfortable but Denzel who senses that he probably will not make it, wants to see Cloud one more time. While Tifa and Marlene head to the church, they see a strip of cloth and learn that Cloud is also suffering from Geostigma and that is why he has been distant. Tifa feels Cloud has given up on life and is expecting to die from the disease.
But before Cloud could make it home, Kadaj’s men looking for Jenova beats Tifa and takes the mako (this is energy that can be cultivated as power) and Marlene. Meanwhile, all the children inflicted with Geostigma hear that they can possibly be cured, so all of them get on trucks (driven by Kadaj’s men) and taken to the lifestream.
Cloud arrives and finds a beaten Tifa and immediately heads to the lifestream where he discovers Kadaj and his men who now have enough children that he can control and build his army in order to prove his worth to his mother. Immediately, Cloud heads to the Forgotten City and sees all the children who have Geostigma and is being controlled by Kadaj. So, he fights against the three men who call him the black sheep of the family. With the help of Vincent, Cloud manages to survive the battle and learns from Vincent of what Kadaj and his men are looking for and that they are planning to bring back Sephiroth (the main antagonist of “Final Fantasy VII” – The former SOLDIER, the most powerful, who learned that they are not normal human beings but created using the genes of Jenova and thus has fueling his hatred). With the possibility of Sephiroth coming back alive, this has rejuvenated Cloud, that despite having the deadly Geostigma disease, he will do what he can to stop Kadaj.
Meanwhile, two of Kadaj’s men Loz and Yazoo have put the infected kids including Denzel circled around the fountain in the center in the town of Edge. The people of Edge do not know what they are doing and suspect something foul. But their goal is to remove a fountain which they believe Jenova is being hidden. They summon Bahamut SIN who goes down to pull out the fountain and unleash these rabid monster looking dogs on the people of Edge.
The Turks Reno and Rude try to fight off Loz and Yahoo but while Tifa tries to protect Denzel from Bahamut SIN, their allies from their past battle such as Barret, Yuffie, Cid, Red, Vincent and others arrive in time to fight together once again. Will Cloud be able to prevent Kadaj from reviving Sephiroth? Will their ever be a cure for Geostigma?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“FINAL FANTASY VII: ADVENT CHILDREN COMPLETE” is featured in 1080p High Definition (aspect ratio of 1:78:1). When the film was released in 2005, the animation was realistic and just awesome to look at. The animation still holds up four years later but part of the problem is that the video is upconverted. The extra 30 minutes is pretty much all throughout the film but for those with a keen eye, you can tell which piece looks upconverted and which doesn’t. The newer scenes are much crisper and sharper. But for the most part, depending on your TV, many people probably will not know the difference on the Blu-ray but comparing to the DVD, the image quality is of course, much, much better.
There are a lot of details in the newer scenes from books, papers scattered on the shelves. You will now see dirt and grime on the people getting into the fights. You will also see more footage of people around Midgar, more to the buildings and destruction around the city and just more additional footage that made the film much better. Scenes and backgrounds come out quite clearly on the video that even scenes where characters are looking out windows, you can see the backgrounds through the windows much clearer.
I also want to add that there were certain scenes that displayed white speckles. Although I didn’t see compression artifacts, I was surprised to see this a few times in the video but very few times. Overall, picture quality was very good.
The audio features a lossless track with an English, Japanese and French Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track (note: The Japanese version does not have the French audio track nor does it contain the English subtitles). To be truthful, I was hoping the sound would be much immersive and that there would be full utilization of audio throughout all channels but FF7:ACC was more front channel heavy with occasional panning of sound but I didn’t hear any low level frequency bass coming out of my subwoofer, nor did I really hear anything coming out throughout my rear surrounds. But the dialogue, the awesome music and action scenes with swords clanging and destruction of buildings do come out quite clearly through your front and center channel speakers.
Also, when it comes to voice acting both Japanese and English are well done. Square Enix really went all out by having actresses Mena Suvari and Rachael Leigh Cook to lend their voices to the characters but overall, both audio tracks were well done. If anything, I tend to prefer the Tifa “tsuru tsuru tsuru tsuru” than the “dilly dally shilly shally” but overall, I enjoyed both. I did not watch the film with the French dub track though.
As for subtitles, the Blu-ray features English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese (Traditional), Chinese (Simplified), Korean, Thai, Arabic and Dutch. The Japanese version only features Japanese subtitles.
“FINAL FANTASY VII: ADVENT CHILDREN COMPLETE” includes a good number of special features. Included are:
- Legacy of Final Fantasy - (6:37) This featurette features a quick history of the “Final Fantasy” video games and then leads up to the screening at the Venice International Film Festival, discussion of how the DVD sold over a million copies in Japan, 3.6 worldwide which is unprecedented for a direct-to-video release. And also the release of this latest Blu-ray release which features nearly 30 minutes of extra footage and 1,000 revised scenes.
- Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII - (23:55) A featurette/digest that features the replaying of the story of “Final Fantasy VII” from the Sony PlayStation. For those who haven’t played the video game or it has been too many years that has passed by since you did play the game, this is a good refresher on the original video game.
- Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII Compilation - (29:43) Where the original digest featured “Final Fantasy VII”, this time the stories from “Beginning Crisis”, “Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII” and “Dirge of Cerberus” are featured. So, if you never played any of these three video games, you can watch this featurette and learn about the Turks, the relation between Zack and Cloud and also how the FF7 group especially Vincent have started assisting the World Regenesis Organization (WRO).
- On the Way to a Smile – Episode: Denzel – (28:04) The following anime OAV takes place right after “Advent Children” and focuses on the orphan Denzel who is inspired by Cloud and his friends to be a member of the WRO. Denzel shares his story about his family and then living in the slums but most importantly information on how the disease Geostigma started to affect the people of Midgar and how quickly it spread and how people started to die.
- Exclusive Sneak Peak at Final Fantasy XIII – (7:12) A sneak peak of the upcoming “Final Fantasy” PlayStation 3/XBOX 360 video game.
- Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete Trailers – A total of five trailers. The original teaser trailers for Advent Children and the teaser trailer for “Advent Children Complete”.
In Japan, a playable demo for “Final Fantasy XIII” was offered. Also, the Blu-ray came in a black Blu-ray case. In the US, the version comes with a slip case and in the standard blue Blu-ray case. Since “Final Fantasy” games in the US tend to come out nearly a year and more later after the Japanese release, it was expected that there would not be a playable demo of the game with this release. Both the Japanese and the US release do not contain the 2005 anime OAV “Last Order: Final Fantasy VII” which was included in the “Ultimate Edition” DVD release for “Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children” back in the Fall of 2005.
When “ADVENT CRISIS” was released, I truly found the release to be action-packed and visually, incredible. From the facial mannerisms of each character, to the details of each character model including the buildings and the roads. So, much went into this project of creating a side of realism with the character models. It was amazing what “Final Fantasy: Spirits Within” was able to achieve in CG back then but to see how far it has evolved with “Advent Children” and the fact that unlike the previous “Final Fantasy” film, there was now an emotional attachment previously from the FF7 video game and now to this film.
But where the original film seemed like eye candy and action-packed sequences that were a definite nod to the fans who enjoyed the series, the release of “FINAL FANTASY VII: ADVENT CHILDREN COMPLETE” is much more satisfying as the storyline seems much more coherent now than before. Also, since the release of the original Advent Children, there have been additional FF7 video games that gave us more storyline of things behind-the-scenes with the SOLDIER program and most of all, the relationship between Sephiroth, Cloud and Zack.
After finishing “Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII”, the video game gave me a stronger understanding of why Sephiroth became this madman bent on destruction but most of all, why Cloud kept thinking about his old friend and why he fights with his sword. Many questions answered in these last three years from the video games that makes things much more easier this time around when watching “Advent Children Complete”.
With the release of “FINAL FANTASY VII: ADVENT CHILDREN COMPLETE”, with how much time I have invested in the “Final Fantasy” video games but specifically the FF7 releases, I found watching the film this time around, much more enjoyable. I found myself noticing mannerisms in the face of Tifa and the children, Cloud’s conflicted emotions with having the Geostigma disease and just small details which I never took noticed before until now.
This is more than a re-release to Blu-ray but an enhancement of the original release. Many of you are wondering if you own it on DVD, is it worth the double dip. The answer is YES! It really is worth purchasing on Blu-ray. Newer storyline, newer features but it’s not going to change non-FF7 fans or those not at all familiar with the series to enjoy it. But for those who truly enjoy “Final Fantasy VII”, have played the recent releases and want a much better version of the film than what we bought back in 2006, then “FINAL FANTASY VII: ADVENT CHILDREN COMPLETE” is highly recommended!
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