No, I am not reviewing the Playstation RPG that people have been fawning over for years. Instead, I have obtained through my good friend J-tin a copy of the movie that takes place two years after the events in the game. I should preface this saying I knew about as much about Final Fantasy VII going into this as a blind man knows about the difference between red and blue. I’ve heard much about it, but have no real experience playing it. For that matter, the only Final Fantasy games I have played are a FFXII sequel and FFIII for the Nintendo DS. But I decided to see how this movie would hold against the standards of someone not enthralled by FFVII’s mystical aura. And quite frankly, it could have done better.
Alright, let me establish first what I knew about FFVII before watching the movie. I knew it was a RPG for the Playstation that came out in 1997. I knew it had a character named Cloud, which I thought was a ridiculous name (and still do). I knew it had something or other called ‘JENOVA’, but I had no clue what its relationship to the story was. I knew that there was a scene where an exceptionally popular girl character died, and it was emotional for way too many people. I think her name started with an ‘A’. And most importantly, I knew it had an awesome soundtrack. In fact, there is a pretty good remix compilation here.
And what do I know about FFVII now? Well, I know it had a wide variety of characters, including a large black man, a guy in a red cloak, a girl with a massive spinny-throwy weapon of death, a pair of animals that can talk, a large-breasted woman named Tifa, and many others. I know the bad guy was named Sephiroth, and he liked to stand in the middle of flames. I know the length of his sword was making up for something. I know that a meteor came to whatever planet this was and some people used it to alter others. I know that there is a lifestream of energy that the planet has that was tapped for use by the people living there, which caused much controversy. I know the party went on an adventure to stop someone from doing something evil, though at this point it got a bit confusing. And I know at the end the planet said “bugger this, I’ll get rid of this meteor myself” and launched it back into space. Oh, and I think the lifestream powerplant blew up.
Enough about the game, though, and more on the movie. It was pretty clear going into this that nothing really major was going to happen. Anything introduced in the movie had to be resolved before the end of it, and nothing that happened prior to the movie was going to be significantly altered. This is due, of course, to the nature of the film. It is a spin-off that many FFVII players will not see, and should not have to see, before playing a hypothetical sequel to the game. There are benefits and problems with this style of film, as is to be expected. Nobody important will die, meaning there’s little real suspense about who’s going to win. Even when Cloud gets blown up point-blank after being shot through the chest, you know he’s going to be okay. Of course, the two bad guys who do it aren’t coming back – they were introduced near the beginning of the film and are therefore expendable. On the bright side, all of the plot points are neatly tied together like a möbius strip. Actually, there’s really only two plot points that I can think of, the disease, and Cloud being emo. I suppose I should get on with the summary, shouldn’t I?
Fast forward from FFVII two years. The planet is still ticked about the meteor, and is now causing a disease in all of the people altered by it. Three silver-haired punks are looking for ‘mother’, which is something meteor-related, and believe she will tell them what to do about the whole “we’re being hurt by the planet” thing. So they attack Cloud while he’s out being cool on his motorcycle, and the first action sequence begins. My respect for Cloud skyrockets as he presses a button on his bike and the sides open up, revealing about six penis-compensating-sized swords. Every bike should come with that standard. After being attacked by a two of the baddies, one with a gun and the other with some sort of hand weapon, these weird shadow-dog things start attacking him as well. Regardless of the overwhelming odds against him, the worst off Cloud gets is a slight cut from a bullet that grazed his cheek. The third baddie, who was talking on his cell phone up on an overlooking cliff this whole time, calls off the other two and they leave. I don’t know if they could have come up with a less climactic ending to the sequence. Perhaps if after Cloud was surrounded, one of the guys went up, slapped him on the shoulder, and yelled, “You’re It!”
I think there was some exposition prior to this battle, but that’s where the movie started being noteworthy. More exposition comes after the battle, or before, or whenever, as we learn that Tifa and Cloud run a delivery service. That being the obvious choice of occupation after going on an awesome quest to save the world. We also learn that Cloud has gone AWOL, and is not answering his phone. Oh that rebel. For some reason they’ve got kids living with them, though I don’t know where they came from, as Tifa and Cloud don’t seem to be getting it on. Perhaps it’s some social service they’re doing. In any case, Tifa and one of the little girls goes to visit an abandoned church where Cloud apparently lives. Since he’s not there, they wait. And we get a flashback of something or another. And they wait some more. And the little girl gets impatient. And finally a bad guy shows up to spark some interest in the movie again. He and Tifa fight in a mortal kombat-style kung-fu match, ending with the bad guy in a pile of rubble. In one of the best moments of the entire movie, we hear the iconic Final Fantasy Victory Theme. It turns out it’s the cell phone of the bad guy, which is ironic, seeing as how he just has his butt handed to him by a girl. He gets some new instructions to kidnap the little girl, and does so after knocking out Tifa in a few quick moves that he apparently didn’t know he could do a minute earlier. The little girl attempts to help, throwing little balls of light at the bad guy, but this ultimately kills Cloud. Well, eventually. As it turns out, the little balls of light are powerful spells or whatnot that the bad guys take, along with the girl. Thus ends battle sequence two, much more appropriately.
Bugger this, summaries suck.
The bad guys end up mind controlling a bunch of children, proceed to do nothing with them but scare all of their parents, summon a gigantic boss creature, and badger an old guy about ‘mother’ until he reveals a box containing some sort of liquid, throws it off the building, and tells them to catch her.
All of the good guys from the FFVII game come out of the woodwork so to speak to defeat the boss creature, do so, and Cloud chases after the bad guy with the box in the completely expected chase scene. It culminates with two of the three bad guys blown up and the third absorbing whatever liquid ‘mother’ was. This turns him into Sephiroth, who then proceeds to fight Cloud one-on-one while the rest of the crew watches via flying airship. After Cloud beats him in an amazing move that splits his sword into several pieces and reconstructs it in the enemy body, everyone is happy. As people are celebrating, the two bad guys who were blown up reappear with a bunch of the glowing balls of light stuck on them, and shoot Cloud through the chest. They clash, blow up, and fade to white.
As it turns out, the church where Cloud had been living grew a pool of water, which brought him back to life and cured him of the planet-inflicted disease. Yay! It also healed all of the children who were afflicted, and everyone was happy.
As can be gathered from what I recall about the movie after one viewing, it is primarily an action wank film. Don’t expect too deep of a plot to be introduced; they’re just riding off of what FFVII gave them. It has its moments, though, like the cell phone ring tone I mentioned, and the old guy’s two henchmen were funny at times. Overall I wouldn’t recommend buying this movie if you aren’t in love with FFVII already. Too many characters and plot points aren’t properly introduced or explored, like the ghost of the girl Cloud liked. Not a bad movie if you just want to see things people beat up other people/things in a purely anime-style romp. Oh, and the animation isn’t that bad either, if you don’t look at their mouths when they’re talking.