Movie Review –“Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV”

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It seems like only yesterday — OK, it doesn’t, because really it was 2001 — that the video game creators of “Final Fantasy” sought to put their vision of their universe and their “story” in a big screen movie.

My memories of “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” are hazy, but not the hate mail. Oh, those video gamers and their fumbling grasp of the distinction between a movie, placed in wide release, and a game that they’re already invested and immersed in.

Animated characters — not remotely photo realistic — fought and chased each other hither and yon in a tale that made little or no sense, with or without the rules of the (badly) computer-animated gamescape it’s all set in.

Fifteen years later, another Japanese-made, “Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV” makes it to theaters, a quantum leap forward in animation and design, if not a great leap in motion capture technology or in story.

The images are more flexible, more tactile and more mobile, though the faces still lack much expression, and none that anyone could call nuanced or subtle. The settings are striking and photo real, on a par with the fantasy and sci-fi cinema’s state of the art.

But take away the advertorial nature of “Kingsglaive,” ignore its utility as a cheat sheet, prep for the players of various corners of the game world it depicts, and deal with it as a story with characters and incidents anybody not into the game would watch, and it’s the same old “Final Fantasy.” It remains a misshapen mash-up freighted with sci-fi fantasy exposition and a back story so convoluted that a mere two hour movie cannot make heads or tails from it.

This one dwells mostly in the realm of fantasy, a universe of medieval castles and armor and steampunk sci-fi weaponry and creatures, a world where  the Kingdom of Lucis  faces new treachery at the end of an uneasy peace with the Niflheim Empire.

There’s a magic crystal — of course there is — and the only warriors King Regis (voiced by Sean Bean) trusts to defend it are his Kingsglaive “empowered by the magic of their sovereign.”

There are tusked wildebeest warhorses, and when somebody shouts “Release the DEMON!”  they’re talking about war crabs — crabs that spit out a hailrstorm of fireballs.

The stakes are high, and there’s been a lot of intermixing of Lucians and Niflheimers in the “hundred years of peace.” But anti-immigrant backlash rears its head.

“We don’t need any of you immigrants jumping around, playing war hero!”

And since there are immigrants, there’s a “wall.” Who says video game film adaptations can’t be topical?

The dialogue, delivered by actors like Aaron Paul and Lena Headey, who didn’t do the motion capture “acting,” is generic “Get back here alive! That’s an order!” and “You speak of matters beyond the wall.”

There are good soldiers, “immigrants” who must prove themselves, an evil prince, all given tongue-tangling names like Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, should you choose to try and remember them.

Only one name matters for movie fans, the city under threat. It has the silliest city name this side of “Resident Evil” and its “Raccoon City.” They call it “Insomnia,” here. Though this “Final Fantasy” is a sure cure for that.

1half-star

MPAA Rating:PG-13 for fantasy violence and action throughout

Cast: The voices of Aaron Paul, Sean Bean, Lena Headey, many others
Credits: Directed byTakeshi Nozue , script byTakashi Hasegawa . A  Sony release.

Running time: 1:50

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11 Responses to Movie Review –“Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV”

  1. Joey1013 says:

    Hmmm never seem to give real reviews. Pretty bad reviewer.

  2. bgf says:

    Run-on sentences in last paragraph.

    • English isn’t your first language? Apparently? I’d say ‘Nice try,’ but that would zip right over your head, wouldn’t it? And it’s not. A nice try, I mean.

  3. Deon says:

    This review sucks.

  4. João Victor says:

    The most stupid review that I’ve ever seen in my whole life, are you complaning about the name of the characters!? Really!? It’s a japanese game man, you can’t expect a character called John, and I don’t believe that you said the diamond weapon is a crab!

  5. Walter says:

    Go watch it then. I already did since it premiered in my country on Aug 11.
    hint: The joke’s on you fanbois – looking forward to the rage on the internet.

  6. I think you’re being a little unfair to Spirits Within. Yeah, it was a mess (and it was actually widely loathed by Final Fantasy fans for having little to do with any of the worlds explored in the actual series it’s based on), and while the animation looks hokey today, it still made great strides in some respects. A CG-animated film with a “serious” or “photo-realistic” aesthetic aimed at an older audience was practically unheard of back then, and its visuals were pretty groundbreaking during its time.

    I think one of the big problems with Final Fantasy movies is that they’re pretty much vehicles for unnecessary spin-off content, such as Advent Children, which did little to service that story aside from adding a lot of unnecessary, tacked-on excess and bloat. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, the Final Fantasy games are actually pretty well-regarded for their story-telling, and some of them (i.e. 7 and 9) tend to have a lot of quirky and memorable humour in addition to exploring some truly thoughtful and sincere themes.

    • Sounds like you’re actually agreeing with me re: “Spirits.” Yeah, it was a step forward, but barely. Mo Cap was already further along, so the animation looked direct-to-video ready.

  7. “We don’t need any of you immigrants jumping around, playing war hero!”

    And since there are immigrants, there’s a “wall.” Who says video game film adaptations can’t be topical?”

    Japanese film. Probably doesn’t mean what you think it means. Having walls guarding against outsiders is a typical trope in fantasy AND scifi.

    Also, this film was written before the walls and immigrants thing was at the forefront of this Amerocentric review. The reviewer focuses far too much on ‘immigrants’ in scare quotes. Seems like he read into this what he wants to see.

    Not a very good review.

    • Your assumption that the Japanese don’t watch what’s going on in a political campaign that’s been closely watched overseas for a year and a half is moronic. That includes Japan, that most Americacentric Asian state. They don’t have market research in Japan, where they know a big budget film can’t be a hit without making an imprint in the US? Why cast Aaron Paul, Sean Bean and Lena Headey for the English language version? Everything in a movie is there on purpose, especially in xenophobic/immigrant-phobic Japan. And walls, your myopia notwithstanding, are the oldest defensive structure on the planet. They’re always for “keeping barbarians out.” Perhaps a little understanding of the world beyond your game screen would do you good.

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