If you've never played Final Fantasy VII, or are entirely ignorant to the vast franchise that has met with indescribable success on the different platforms that producer Square-Enix has churned out, then you may want to reconsider the DVD you’re mentally holding in your mind. However, if you’re into taking a risk, or even delving into a movie entirely separate from anything you’ve experienced before, both thematically and visually, then Advent Children, the tale of the events following the defeat of Sephiroth two years after the game, may be just for you.
Essentially, the events of Final Fantasy VII chronicled Cloud Strife, Ex-SOLDIER, fighting against Shin-Ra Electric Power Company, a global conglomerate in the fictitious world that ultimately sought The Promised Land, through bending the blood of the Planet (the Lifestream) to their ends. But Sephiroth, Clouds former idol and commander--who realized the horrific means by which he was created--has a different plan for humanity and the world it inhabits. It is he who wields control over the JENOVA cells, or the remnants of the calamity that fell from the sky thousands of years ago.
With Jenova at his back, Sephiroth seeks to destroy the Planet, simply because he cannot begin to comprehend what it means to accept circumstances and move on. With the conclusion of the game, Sephiroth was finally defeated, and the Planet was saved.
Or was it?
Two years later, Midgar, the former home of Shin-Ralies, is in ruins, having been decimated by Sephiroth’s ultimate attack two years earlier. Yet, though Midgar is dead, a city has leapt alive at its fringes, appropriately named Edge. But Cloud, who managed to overcome his demons in time to save the world, now lives in ultimate seclusion as the deadliest virus known to man spreads savagely across the globe.
“Geostigma, JENOVA, Reunion.”
Such is the tagline of Advent Children, and such is how the movie begins, with an in-depth look at the ramifications of saving a world that was so clearly destined to die. But with it, comes the basic synopsis of Advent Children.
Geostigma is the effect of the body using the entirety of its own Lifestream to fight off the invading Jenova cells, which were deployed in the Lifestream by Sephiroth’s death at the end of FFVII. And the Reunion is the term used by the infamous three Sephiroth look-a-likes, Kadaj, Yazoo, and Loz, for gathering the children infected by Geostigma (and thusly with Jenova cells) and using the collective force to recall (aka Reunite) Jenova, and subsequently Sephiroth. Thusly, the movie follows Cloud attempting to subvert Kadajs goals, only to be met with failure.
On a thematic level, Advent Children represents and plays upon the human fear of ultimate failure. Having saved the world, the Planet manages to find itself jeopardy again, succumbing to the very evil Cloud triumphed over. The fact that Geostigma generally plagues children, and is fatal in all cases, represents another foray into the instinctual background of mankind. Our sense of nature is dominated by the idea that the old die first, and they young die later. But Geostigma reverses that; those who deserve to die, live.
It represents a perversion of society, of our established sense of right and wrong. It defines Kadaj, Yazoo, and Loz--who declare Geostigma nothing less than the invitations to the greater Reunion--as nothing short of horrific. Such dedication to the unraveling of life in exchange for something so ambiguous is clearly a parallel to our willingness to accept abstraction at face value today.
As for Cloud, his fight with his grief and guilt is entirely relatable. In whatever way he loved Aerith, Cloud cannot, like Sephiroth before him, come to terms with the concept of circumstance. Aerith, who died to save the world, paved the way for Cloud’s success. By saving the world, Cloud feels as though he has betrayed her memory, stood upon her shoulders, and lives while she has died. If anything, Advent Children preaches that guilt is conditional and often self-imposed by our own need to be punished, when none is warranted.
Finally, Aerith’s own cameo brings to mind the very core of FFVII, that the physical does not control the emotional. In the words of the creators of Nozue, the director of Advent Children, the movie was designed to present the idea that consciousness goes on. And it does. Advent Children presents a fantastic expedition into spirituality, into practices and beliefs that were cast aside long ago for pent-houses like Heaven etc.
Visually, the movie is a triumph, as it blows the mega-bomb The Spirits Within out of the water. There’s nothing that I can say on the visuals, except that you have to see it yourself to really come to terms with it. Primarily based in dark colors, Advent Children breaks out in several places with astounding color and design that rock your socks off.
Finally, as the movie is an English dub, the voices were fantastic. Rufus Shin-Ra’s voice will rub-off on viewers, while Steve Burton’s rendition of Cloud and Mena Suvari’s Tifa will leave viewers with new-found respect for voice-overs.
The points I have against the movie itself are minimal: the plot was hugely confusing, and the appearance (or lack thereof) of certain characters seemed unnecessary.
In closing, a great movie. Can’t wait for ACC, though.
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