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September 12, 2005

Final Fantasy – The Cash In


Eerily androgynous characters aside, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is a blatant cash in on the Final Fantasy name. Not only do the marketing executives know that VII is the most popular Final Fantasy, but they have filled the movie with, get this, product placement. Yes, in the alternate world that is Final Fantasy VII, apparently Panasonic is alive and well, and cell phone coverage extends to the barren wastelands. Square Enix spares no opportunity to give you a close-up of the (waterproof) cell phones the characters use, playing the ring tones nice and clear, lest you forget which one to buy the next time you are in the store.

This direct-to-video release certainly is impressive from a technical sense although the 2001 film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within feels superior in many ways. Skin for the characters in Advent Children feels like an unreal plastic over robotic skeleton, placing them in the heart of the uncanny valley. Flowing hair and fabric is abundant but feels as if it all is made of the same insubstantial material yet can resemble a sweater, ribbon, hair or robes. The pseudo-realistic sense is unnerving as the movie attempts to be photo-realistic but never quite makes it there; instead, the movie is at its strongest when it leaves reality squarely behind it. Creatures are fantastical and monstrous, as if the imagination of the artists sprung forth in digital form.

Likewise, when the bonds of reality are broken, fight sequences can take place as perfectly choreographed super-heroic action-fests such as the Square Enix animated sequence in the Animatrix. You quickly understand that the physical laws of our world are meant to be shattered by these characters as they run up walls, obliterate stone columns with their bare hands, slide face-first across the asphalt and come out with their plastic Barbie-doll complexion unscathed. The mythic feats and slow-motion enhanced fights make the Matrix look like a documentary, and that’s when the movie hits its stride. In order to enjoy the movie, leave your sense of reality behind and watch the girly-girly super man ballet.

Overall, one has to wonder about the future of Square Enix. They have certainly turned into an animation powerhouse over the last few years, taking their flair for the fantastic and bringing it to the small screen. What does it say about the company though, and the respect for its characters, when it begins to blatantly cash in on them? The trend began with the cheeky and forgettable X2 sequel to Final Fantasy X. What started as a way to spit out a quick sequel using the art and assets from Final Fantasy X has turned into a corporate-wide policy. Expect to see every single tie-in one can imagine, and even those that you can’t imagine, such as Final Fantasy VII Snowboarding for cell-phones. Yes, it is sadly true. What works for cartoony characters such as Sonic and Mario, placing them in wacky games like Mario Kart and Sonic Riders, feels downright wrong for characters promoted as deep and serious.

The most telling scene from the movie has to be when scores of kids drink purple Kool-aid turning them into mindless zombies that see the world through slit-eyes, ready to kill for the ultra-feminine antihero. No doubt, over the next few days you will see reviews from fans of the original game. They’ll rave about how much they love seeing each of their favorite old characters back in action. They’ll devour every nuance of costume change and each new weapon. They’ll strain to control their bowels at the completely over-the-top action sequences and they’ll tell you how deep the extensive monologues are. They have also consumed a deep draught from the well of purple Kool-aid and are blind to the fact that Square Enix is whoring their dreams for a few lousy dollars and a cell phone with Final Fantasy VII ringtones.

17 Comments:

At September 13, 2005 6:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This review seems biased, as if you have some hidden personal reason for not liking it.

The style is how it is. It was not intended to be photorealistic. It is said from the team at SquareEnix that they wished to achieve the style of the original FFVII world, which is definitely not photoreal. Spirits within was photoreal. This is not.

The original world of FFVII did not follow the rules of physics. Neither should the world of Advent Children. Having superhuman choreographed fight scenes are second nature. If the characters used their fists in a street fighting style, I would be disappointed and confused as to why.

Although you mentioned it about a dozen times, I do not think SquareEnix is "cashing" in on anything. The phones in the movie do resemble real world phones, but it does not ruin the credibility of the film. Further, if they were cashing in on anything at all, it is to promote the FFVII cell phone game. Which makes sense because both the movie and the cell phone games are part of one larger project called the Compilation of FFVII (which includes other games as well).

Advent Children IS a movie catered to the fans of the game. Why would creating a world faithful to the original be a bad thing? It's the whole point. It is an extension of the game, a direct sequel. It must retain the same qualities as the original, and these are the qualities you take for negative things.

In the end you mentioned not one single thing from the story. Instead you concentrated on the eyecandy. And the purpose of eyecandy is just that and nothing more. The central part of any movie revolves around the story it tells. If you didn't like the story, that's fine, but you don't say anything about the most important aspect.

 
At September 13, 2005 7:39 AM, Anonymous Christopher7xii said...

Yeah, Kamalot loves to hate on Sony and anything related to them. You must of forgotten that cell phones were an important part of FF7(the PHS, how you switched characters... It was lost in translation a bit though). It's just part of Japanese culture, not really meant to sell the product.

But ya know, feel free to not enjoy something that many others will. You're only keeping yourself from having fun, in your own bitter empty world.

 
At September 13, 2005 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just saw the movie last night and have to agree with MOST of what the article says.

To the first poster, they do have a fist-fight in the movie that feels totally out of place.

It is really obvious that the movie is a direct way to make money. Enix must be the evil part of Square since before the Enix merger, Square was always making new things. Now it looks like everything they do is a way to milk what they've already done before.

The product placement does feel out of place. All you fans who come in here and complain that the reviewer does not get it are the ones who are blind to what is being pulled over your eyes.

The Lord of the Rings movies have shown us that good movies can appeal to the hard core AND the mainstream. Why can't Final Fantasy do the same. Instead of bringing the series to the mainstream, this movie only drives it more into the hardcore camp.

Geez. When you see the movie, you will realize that that damn cell phone gets more closeups that some of the important characters I remember and want to see more of.

 
At September 13, 2005 10:18 AM, Blogger Kamalot said...

christopher7xii, glad you could stop by! Always a pleasure.

This article isn't intended as a full review, as you've probably seen. Instead, it is my impressions of the movie and with the distaste that the marketing influence left in my mouth.

Here is a pic of the cell phone in question, the exact same one that shows up in several money-shots in the movie.

Someone obviously has enough distaste for the whole cash-in that they set up CloudIsATOOL to showcase how a character we loved is now nothing more than a marketing tool.

Really, everyone has to see the film and decide for themselves. Balance your fandom with your tolerance for marketing and direct-to-video cash-ins and see if you like it.

 
At September 13, 2005 11:34 AM, Anonymous Killy said...

I saw the movie last night and I mostly agree with the article.

If you are a Final Fantasy VII fan and played through the game, the movie will please you for sure. I played the game when It came out. Didn't go all the way through it, but I know some of the story. Even beeing a bit familiar with FFVII world I was kind of lost in some places during the plot development. My wife (that doesn't have any FFVII knowledge) watched it with me and she got bored and went to sleep, because the story started to make no sense to her.

So I think the movie is a big failure if you watch it for its plot. The animation and the fight scenes are top notch, but that alone won't make a good movie in my opinion.

And when they have the big boss fight, Cloud's friends start to show up from nowhere. It seems clear to me that they just wanted to have all FFVII characters in the movie, but they didn't know how to do it right, so they just throw all of them together in the middle of a big fight. Non sense to me.

Yeah, and I also hate that they focused so much on that stupid Cell Phone. Of course they are trying to cash in with that. If you are trying to justify that by saying that Cell Phones are part of Japanese Culture you are just a fanboy :P

 
At September 13, 2005 2:55 PM, Anonymous Christopher7xii said...

Well, when something is a part of the culture(and the previous game, which you never finished), it doesn't throw me off. I mean, nobody knocked Matrix for their product placement of sunglasses.

Anyways, after watching, I think if you're complaining about story it's because it's a follow up to a 40 hour RPG with tons of background info that you pick up on your own in game from investigating. They're basically rewarding fans. I don't quite agree with the cash in part, since everyone that worked on it seemed to be enthralled with the idea and in love with it. It is a business though. They went from it being 20minutes, to 45 minutes, to 75 minutes, to 100 minutes... If I got that extra time because they flash a few phones during the movie, that's fine by me. Overall, I think it felt like a Final Fantasy experience to me. Much better than X-2, which was basically in existance so Squaresoft would stop feeling so uptight about their products. I read that basically that broke the ice for them to take themselves lightly(which i loathe). I do miss Squaresoft...

 
At September 13, 2005 5:20 PM, Anonymous Christopher7xii said...

I seriously can't believe you think about 30seconds overall of a phone being used/shown(completely in context) is enough to detract from your positive view on it... Rediculous.

 
At September 13, 2005 5:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The phones are so out of place, and constantly used in close-ups. There is a whole long sequence with nothing else but the phone on the screen.

someone else said the phones get more time on screen than characters. theyre right.

 
At September 13, 2005 7:47 PM, Anonymous Christopher7xii said...

"There is a whole long sequence with nothing else but the phone on the screen."

20 seconds is long? Heaven forbid they actually use phones... If you didn't have the speakers up, you missed the whole part where it fills you in on what's going on outside of the Cloud/Vincent area. Aside from that, there was a ringtone, and then there was another phone call. Whooptee doo, three phone parts in a full length movie. Nobody bitched about the matrix with their phone use...

 
At September 13, 2005 10:48 PM, Blogger Kamalot said...

Christopher7xii:

I like how it goes from 30 seconds to 20 seconds in your posts. The sequence is a minute in length.

It is downright obvious what's going on in these scenes. The only way it could have been more obvious is if the movie was in 3D so they could reach out of the screen and bonk the audience members on the head with the phone.

 
At September 14, 2005 1:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HOYL SHIT5 THAT CLEE PHONE IS REAL??? I TOTALLY GOTAT GET ON OF THOSE > VICTORY DANCE< BABY!

 
At September 14, 2005 6:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In like 2 of those aerial fight scenes (on the tree and in the city) a cell phone falls, and the camera swivels around it for a good 30 seconds... REALLY out of place.

 
At September 14, 2005 8:38 PM, Anonymous Christopher7xii said...

Hey Kam, originaly I said 30 seconds total time, the 20 seconds I refered to was for the one scene in which most of the screentime for it was. The longest scene with it.

42:30
43:22

Guess you were closer, but it still wasn't a minute. Still think it's rediculous. So if they used a fake phone, would you of cared?

 
At September 14, 2005 10:40 PM, Blogger Kamalot said...

Had they used a fake phone, it would have been a non-issue.

http://kamalot.blogspot.com/2005/09/final-fantasy-v-product-placement.html

 
At September 16, 2005 1:48 AM, Blogger The Kindred said...

Hi, I read your impression and I must say I have to agree with most of what you just said.

I am afraid that nearly all the known sequels are made not just for the purpose of continuing a story, but for milking the franchise as well.

Ultimately, the movie is made to satisfy the fans of FF, although judging from the movie's length and lack of focus of the other characters, that another FF7 movie could be in the pipeline ;)

 
At March 08, 2007 6:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im not sure if thouse who have placed these comments that say spiritst within have actualy played let alone watch any of the games let alone the films?
but be sure the Advent children in everything is better than spirits within which was labeled Final Fantasy when in fact the only thing to do with set film was the life stream

the music was awsom and the film altogether is a proud place in final fantasy fans

advent children alltogether was awsome the only disadvantage was there was not anouth about Aeris as she was prob more of a direct aspect of Cloud
the graphics awsome the plot wiked and generaly it worked well whilst spirits within made no sence and was not really a Final Fantasy

 
At July 09, 2007 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This might be an issue that has been worked over to death by yourself and many hundreds of others like you Kamalot... and yours makes it seem a little more of an issue, but when they released the other titles of the FFVII series, ie Dirge of cerberus. or the strongly touted but barely heard mix of Reno-Rude in a Pre-FFVII world that made it's debut on the cellphone / gaming console that hit the world and went boom shortly thereafter. did you think much of that?

or the FF line itself... Were talking now 20 years of titles coming from Squaresoft and now Square-Enix. Is that a commercial cash in?

Square hit it horrendously big in America with their timely release of Final fantasy 7.
And since 1997, Sony sure has enjoyed the profits from that title alone.
So before you go pointing fingers I beg of you to remember that todays age is one where the best marketing survives, and without homebuilt anonymous critics like yourself who paid the same $19.95 I did, the majority of persons who watched this either enjoyed it or didn't.

This less than a moment piece of footage was hardly noticed. cept by yourself and the 60,000,000 other wannabe critics of such things.

 

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