Final Fantasy VII
Advent Children

Starring (voice): Shotaro Morikubo, Toru ‘kawa, Keiji Fujiwara and Taiten Kusunoki
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: PG
Available 24 April 2006

It has been two years since Cloud Strife and his friends defeated the megalomaniac Sephiroth and avenged the death of Aerith, two years and a lot has changed. Midgar's population, having survived the destruction of the Meteor, is in the process of rebuilding the new city of Edge next to the ruins of Midgar. Cloud has become isolative and withdrawn, his soul eaten away by the guilt he feels over Aerith's death, and a new calamity has come in the form of a plague. Geostigma is infecting the people and only Kadaj and his gang seem to offer a solution, but at what price will the cure come...

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, directed by Tetsuya Nomura, is the much anticipated sequel to one of the most popular games on the Playstation and this double disc edition was well worth the wait. For fans of the game, many of the locations crop up again in the film in glorious CGI. You get to see Aerith's house, The sleeping Forest, The Lost City of the Ancients and of course Midgar - though it's a bit wrecked due to the havoc caused by Sephiroth in the game. The word "Advent" in the title refers, of course, to a second coming, so fans of the game will have no problem working out who the big baddie turns out to be. For the rest of you, just sit back and enjoy.

Visually the film is nothing short of stunning, the skin tones and backgrounds have such detail that it's very easy to forget that you're watching a CGI animated film. The suspension of disbelief works best with the inanimate objects in the film, so much so that at the end of the titles, when we see Cloud riding his cool motorbike Fenrir, its difficult not to think that they actually built one.

Character movement for the most part is flawless with only a few instances of chunkiness to pull you back to remembering that this isn't real. As you would expect from FFVII there are a lot of sword fights and fast action packed sequences, all well staged, all edge of the seat moments. Character design, like the rest of the film is excellent, even Clouds hair, which was a little on the freaky side in the game, has been given a make over. The girls look great but my favourite character design has to be Vincent.

On the first disc you get the main feature and have the choice of English or Japanese 5.1 audio, with optional subtitles in English Italian and Arabic. Both tracks are well worth your time, with the Japanese version having the slight dramatic edge. The soundtrack, by Nobuo Uematsu, uses much of the original music, but with an updated operatic edge. This is music that has to be played loud and proud. Also, on the first disc is Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII, which is a twenty-two minute short which uses visuals from the original game to tell the back-story for anyone who hasn't played it. Considering the game sold nine million, and even second hand will cost you as much as a modern game, there can't be many of you out there.

On the second disc you get a few deleted scenes, which for the most part are just segments that have been edited from the fights. For those of you that never made it to the Venice Film Festival, where the original rough cut was shown, the makers have generously included it. This alone runs to twenty minutes and includes much of the film with some stuff taken from the game to stand in for incomplete sections. The last large piece is a Making of featurette which is both illuminating and interesting - looking at all aspects of the films creation - it even has an interview with the tattooist. This runs at thirty-six minutes. Last on the disc are the original eight trailers for the film and a look at the upcoming new FF game.

Unlike many CGI films FFVII has quite an in-depth and involving story by script writer Kazushige Nojima. Thematically there are a number of things going on simultaneously. Clouds guilt over the death of Aerith, and his inability to see that he does have a family with Tifa and the orphans, mirrors Kadja's attempt to find the head of Jenova, whom he refers to as Mother. Like King Lear, it is only through loosing everything, or so he thinks, that he comes to the realisation of just how much he has, unlike Kadja who looses everything when he gains the object of his desire. This is also a film about self redemption and the forgiveness of sins.

Fans of the game will be pleased to learn that, apart for some new faces, all the main characters make reappearances, though what the uninitiated are going to make of Cait Sith, Red XIII or Bahamut Sin god only knows. Therein lays the films only weakness, I could imagine that it could be a little impenetrable without knowing the back-story, but the films dedication states this is made for those who loved the game. Still, they have included Reminiscence to help you catch up.

So what is there to say, great CGI, great script, an all round great film which I watched over and over again, this is a must have DVD for everyone.

Charles Packer

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