Strange. Weird. Odd. Confusing.
Just finished watching this movie, and I have to say it is difficult to find words.
Once again, I am seeing a favorite franchise of mine turned into an expensive movie. And once again, I feel compelled to watch, despite this feeling in the pit of my stomach when I sense too much hype.
This is one of those movies where the reviews will differ hugely depending on whether or not you are a fan of the Final Fantasy franchise or not. I am a fan. One of those who have all the games, books, soundtracks, movies, posters…etc. Oh yeah, that bad. That’s why the likes of us get disappointed worst.
Let’s try to be systematic.
The story here is a prequel to the tremendously popular game, FF-XV, or rather the backstory of it. I haven’t played the game yet, so things here are fresh for me. We have two empires, Lucis and Nifelheim, that have been at war for hundreds of years. That’s a common setting for FF, anyway, sky-high stakes and hundreds of soldiers sparring on the field, and then suddenly we have the whole universe at risk from a totally different threat, and a small chosen party trying to prevent that.
Lucis is protected by a magical shield, powered by a crystal and the king himself, while Nifelheim has the advanced technology. The story starts on the eve of a peace treaty between both nations, and of course, things get ugly quickly, and one of those infamous plots of FF ensue. Enter Nyx Ulric, a ‘glaive’, or a soldier trained to use the king’s magic. He gets tasked with solving this complicated situation, and protecting princess Lunafreya, a key figure in this crisis.
Confused? Yeah, I figured so.
Let’s start with what I liked. The visuals are simply jaw-dropping. To be honest, the FF guys have outdone themselves this time. Mind-blowing action scenes and towering monster fights, with magic and technology clashing till they spill from the screen to your room.
The musical score also is a pleasure to hear. Epic and meticulously performed, the OST is actually a thing to buy by itself. The climactic fight is accompanied by a masterpiece that makes the fight larger than life. The voiceovers are excellent, too. You can easily tell the effort put by the actors/actresses to bring hose 3D models to life.
So what didn’t work?
The story is my first problem. I’m not sure if this is because I didn’t play the game or not, but the plot holes and incoherences are striking. You get swept off in the non-stop action and cool fighting scenes, but when the movie ends, you start questioning. So, who’s working for whom? Why were they at war again? Why did the villain betray them? And of course, no definite answers.
The female characters—few as they are— are another problem. They are either dead or DiDs. Nothing more. They are here to be put in danger by the bad guys so the good guys get provoked enough to save them! The princess, who is supposed to be the main female character, has very few lines of dialogue, nearly all saying the same thing, “I am brave and I don’t fear death.” She does nothing to show this ‘bravery’. Her role is just a vehicle for some artifact that can ‘save the world’.
The males are no better, to be honest. They are a bunch of stereotypes, walking and talking like every other stereotype you know. The cocky hero, the good king, the shrewd villain, the evil emperor. The dialogue is absolutely forgetful, none of those FF quotes that we fans wait for to keep repeating to ourselves after the movie, but rather some starchy, boring phrases that are easily predictable.
The movie tries so hard to cram in as much backstory as possible, probably to lead to the events of the game, but as a standalone, the movie has an uneven pace, with some lines leading nowhere, and others hitting a wall or just vanishing without explanation.
Verdict? You need to be a very loyal FF fan to watch this movie. I mean, REALLY loyal. Otherwise, you will be judging the whole franchise relative to these two hours, and that’s unfair. I’d play the game if I get the chance, at least so I could understand where it eventually leads.