Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (2016)
The fight for hope
A new Final Fantasy game is out, and with it we somehow got another movie too. So far, I've enjoyed the other two movie entries so I have no reason to not think I'll enjoy this right? Well, this week we get to find out the easy way! Get them throwing weapons out and ready up that Firaga, it's time to have ourselves another fantasy!
We start out with a little flashback and exposition setting up our story. Two kingdoms are at war - one having technological robot warriors to help round out it's ranks and certainly the aggressor of the two, the other and it's king having a tie to a magical crystal. When the Empire launches war against the King's nation, he creates a magical shield around the capital city to protect it from their attack. While out with his son to get him some healing for an injury, the Empire forces launches a surprise attack, injuring the King and forcing his retreat - leaving behind the young princess and her brother of the place. At this point, we fast forward to the "modern times."
A settlement is being attacked by the Empire. The king's special magic-using unit - the Kingsglaive - are defending a wall from the beast swarm of the empire. Flitting about with a magical teleport, protecting themselves with magical shields, and throwing fire at their creature-foes, the Kingsglaive are a pretty formidable force - but they are still just man and woman, and few at that. They have a handful of magically inclined up on a tower bringing down a giant pillar of flame to help even things out, and eventually it drops and things seem like they might turn - until the Empire drops a giant demon in, who pushes through the fire. It's actions tax the fire-callers, causing most of them to pass out and phasing out the fire - allowing the Empire's forces to push forward. The King's group retreats, escaping the demon's carnage and heading back to the protected city.
After such a defeat, the Empire sends it's spokesman in for some deal making. A treaty can be signed - if the King gives up all but his walled city to the Empire, and his son marries a certain princess who was captured in the flashback from before. After some discussion with his council, the King acknowledges his age, and they decide the treaty might be the best option they have. Unfortunately, not all is as it appears, and the kingdom's biggest danger is yet to come.
This movie looks fantastic. If there is one thing the Final Fantasy movies excel at above all else, it's pushing the realms of CG to the point that it gets dangerously close to the uncanny valley. The big enhancement this has over, say Advent Children, is largely in the auxiliary effects. Things like lightning and fireballs look quite improved, as do plenty of the monsters. Some decent amounts of motion capture was done for this one as well, leading to (mostly) smooth and human-like body movements. There is still some jankiness at times, and an odd moment of screen tearing that occurred in the early portion of the movie (that never happened again), but largely things look great to the point I'm slightly saddened that I didn't watch it on bluray instead of DvD.
The voice actors do a fine job. There certainly some moments that aren't as good as others, but the ones who do the best jobs usually do so consistently. The sync of the dub works relatively average throughout, with moments that shine as near spot-on and others that leave you thinking that English might not have been the original animations intent. Of course, it could be more of an animation issue than any language-to-CG transference, it's sort of hard to tell with these movies to be honest. You may even hear a voice or two that's quite familiar to you. The soundtrack also has some standout moments throughout.
The plot here isn't really anything so impressive that it doesn't have cliches strewn about. It's enough to give the movie a reason to exist - but not stand out. The setting opens up all sorts of interesting possibilities - with magic, guns, monsters, robots, and even giant creature fights towards the end, it packs a lot of things into it's run time that do leave chords resonating that "I might want more of that." It isn't too odd, in fact, to think that maybe some of that was to draw your interest towards the game that's set in the same universe - but it doesn't feel at all like this movie isn't just it's own thing standing about on it's own two feet. With all the cliches, there is a bit of mystery that you can see coming - even though it might not turn out exactly as you think - and elements that may feel as though the could have been handled a bit more imaginatively unfortunately.
Overall, this was a very pretty movie to watch. There's a lot of people out there who are adamant about CG being terrible, and certainly this would be a good one to help turn that around - at least in regards to the things modern graphics are capable of. The plot has some cliches plaguing it's somewhat interesting setting, but overall the movies presentation helps make you really not mind as much about it's faults. By the end of the movie, I certainly know I wanted more of what I saw in the final act without a doubt.