It's quite ironic that it was exactly 15 years ago when the the first Final Fantasy film The Spirits Within, was released. Considered one of the biggest flops in movie history, it was also a lost opportunity for Square-Enix (known then as simply Squaresoft) to break into the film industry. As a sci-fi film, it wasn't too bad; as a Final Fantasy movie, it felt nothing like the video games we knew and loved. Needless to say, the film was not what fans were expecting and were left disappointed. Five years later, Square-Enix tries again in the form of a follow-up to Final Fantasy 7, their most popular entry in the franchise with Advent Children. This time around, fans were filled with glee in seeing the likes of Cloud and company returning, especially watching that epic climatic rematch between Cloud and Sephiroth which is, let's face it, the only reason for watching this movie. While Advent Children was a slight improvement over the first film, it was a movie that only the most devoted hardcore fans would love. Now here we are again with another movie in the form of Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, which is considered a prelude to the forthcoming Final Fantasy XV. When I saw a sneak peek of this film back at Comic-Con, my interest was peaked to a point that seeing this film in theaters was a necessity; I was even calling it the best film of the summer before I had even seen it. By now, you've probably already heard from critics who contradict with my point of view that Kingsglaive is nothing more than a two hour cut-scene or a glorified commercial for the upcoming game with little to no heart. My, but how wrong they are. Not only is this the best Final Fantasy film to date, it is also one of the best action films of the year. The events of the film take place before Final Fantasy XV, with a little backstory on the setting and characters. There's a lot of info to take in so for
the sake of this review I'll give you the cliffsnotes version. For years, two warring nations have been in constant battle with one another: Lucis and Niflheim, the latter controlling and overtaking a majority of the neighboring territories. Lucis has been able to fend off most of Niflheim's advances with the power of a crystal that creates a barrier around the land and the Kingsglaive, a group consisting of elite soldiers that can use magical powers to protect the Lucian borders. However, the efforts of the Kingsglaive prove to be for naught as they cannot equally match Niflheim's monsters and war machines. King Regis (Sean Bean), ruler of Lucis, knows that his empire will eventually be overtaken by the violent nation, so he reluctantly agrees to the peace
offering from Niflheim's ruler to put an end to the war. Unfortunately, the peace offering is nothing but a ruse to create an opportunity to steal Lucis' crystal and to finally overthrow King Regis. The story and political themes may be too serious for the film's own good but I highly doubt fans will actually complain about this. The stories in the Final Fantasy series tend to be convoluted but this has become a staple with just about every other JRPG out there so it's no different here. The motion capture and lip-syncing, although still not perfect, has vastly improved (I should point out that technically the movie was originally dubbed in English) which helps bring out some touching and meaty performances from the voice actors, particularly Aaron Paul and Lena Headley. The biggest highlight of Kingsglaive is without question the action which surpasses just about everything done in Advent Children and I mean everything. The film does an excellent job of bringing intensity into the sequences with some well done twists and "oh s***!" moments. Seldom do I ever see a movie without any idea of what to expect only to end up amazed and leave the theater smiling, and that's exactly what happened to me after watching Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV. Personally, I thought this movie rocked but it won't be for everyone; particularly moviegoers who aren't familiar with the Final Fantasy lore which is probably why this movie has received so much flak from critics. If you're a fan and you get it, good for you. If you're not, then don't worry too much about the story and characters and just enjoy the action. It is one of the most entertaining and exhilarating films I have seen this year and it perfectly closes out the summer of movies with a kick-ass bang. Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV gets my highest recommendation.
-Reviewed by Razor, 8/27/16
-Reviewed by Razor, 8/27/16