Mar 15, 2017

[Movies] Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV

Final Fantasy movies have a mixed history. Animation quality has certainly been high but never exactly 100% human. Some stories are okay and some are just terrible. Or at least they end up being quite confusing since Final Fantasy stories are often a strange mix of love stories, environmentalism, politics and other story prompts.

I didn't know how to feel about Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV. Actually the news of the movie was not something that had blipped on my radar. And really, the idea of a movie as a sort of parallel companion for a video game felt odd. I can see the value but this sort of cross-platform tie-up venture rarely pans out all that well.

But here we are with a movie that's related to a video game but not quite the main story of that video game. It's another weird mash-up of magic and science fiction with a lot of CGI characters. We get a story with a lot of confusing bits but in the end it becomes something more maybe? Or not.

Synopsis: Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is a 2016 CGI animated movie directed by Takeshi Nozue. The screenplay was written by Takeshi Nozue and depicts events that happen in parallel to the Final Fantasy XV game. The movie was made available on Netflix.

Central to the story is the conflict between Niflheim and Lucis. Niflheim is a technologically advanced civilization that has managed to conquer other nations. Lucis on the other hand is protected by a magical barrier and the Kingsglaive, which is an elite group of warriors of wield magic derived from the royal family.

But peace may be at hand as King Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII (Sean Bean / Tsutomu Isobe) accepting a deal with Niflheim to cede certain territories to them and marry his son Prince Noctis to  Lunafreya Nox Fleuret (Lena Headey / Shiori Kutsuna). But not everything as it seems when it comes to this treaty and it falls to the Kingsglaive to protect the crown to chart a path forward.

What I Liked: Okay, animation quality just keeps getting better and better for this team. Sure, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was beautiful and yet creepy at the same time. And while there will still be those uncanny valley moment when you stare too long at the characters, on the whole they've clearly learned a lot about how to animate these characters.

And as a longtime players of the games, it was also a lot of fun to see elements of the games manifest in the movie. Sure we always have the airships and the funky weapons and the weird costumes to start things out. But then I think I really went nuts over the the shields since the effect was just so beautifully done. I could watch clips of things hitting those shields over and over and over again.

What Could Have Been Better: As expected, the story was quite the confusing mess and we're made to follow along certain members of the Kingsglaive as our point of focus but we really don't have much to go on in terms of characterization. The same challenge plagued most of the characters in the story as we just have a lot of big epic fight scenes right from the beginning with little opportunity to really get to know these characters. This may make a bit more sense as a cutscene between long blocks of dialog handling the exposition but not really as a movie.

And the whole bit about the ring that promises a lot of power but seems to have very particular standards was a little far-fetched. And we've seen these quirks in other Squaresoft games in the past and the ridiculousness. And thus the movie is filled with weird bits like this that aren't terrible but can get annoying over time.

TL;DR: Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV felt like a bit of a stretch for the video game folks and maybe the should have figured out a solid for the movie apart from the game or something. Instead we have a weird extension of the video game that feels like a cutscene that went on too long and didn't really go anywhere of value. And so the movie can only really get 1.5 fancy teleporting Kingsglaive warriors out of a possible 5.

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