Title: Final Fantasy XV - Kingsglaive

Platform: Film

Genre: Action, Fantasy

Directed by: Takeshi Nozue

Starring: Aaron Paul, Sean Bean, Lena Headey

Rating: PG 13

Length: 1h 50min

Written by Whistler 24th October 2016

From its humble origins as a last ditch effort for Hironobu Sakaguchi and Square Soft in the industry, Final Fantasy has since grown into quite possibly one of the most well known JPRG franchises in video gaming. A franchise that has since spanned multiple spin offs of their standalone numbered series, mangas, anime adaptions, ported to pretty much every platform under the sun and a small selection of feature length films. While determining the quality of a lot of these largely comes down personal preference the franchise contains some of the most immersive and memorable adventures I’ve experienced. The same however can’t be said for those who attempt to enter the series by ways of the films.

Now that’s not to say the films have been bad, while Spirits Within was alright (and genuinely ahead of its time in terms of CGI animated movies) it utterly tanked at the box office and seen a lukewarm critical reception. Advent Children on the other hand was rather successful as a straight to DVD release with limited screenings that proved spin offs of the main series’ could work and was possibly the best CGI action we had seen at the times. Alas while it was great for fans of VII, it was incredibly alienating for others with little to bring you up to speed and requiring previous knowledge to understand the plot. This wasn’t necessarily an oversight as it was a sequel to the psx title so fair’s fair, it was intended for fans.

So this time in a combined promotion for the upcoming and overdue Final Fantasy XV comprised of a short anime series, some mobile games and a feature length film serving as a sort of introduction to the world.

Alas Kingsglaive doesn’t get off to a good start as it bombards you with lore and exposition in it’s immensely compressed and convoluted first few minutes. Of course there’s a lot to set up but honestly before watching but it’s handle horrendously.

Simply put, the empire of Niflheim control most of the Earth-like Eos with an iron fist; Niflheim have managed this thanks to their advanced technology and aggressive war tactics (oh and the capabilities of transporting large monsters helps I suppose). On the other side of the spectrum we have the seemingly last remaining opposition against Niflheim, the kingdom of Lucis. However as it stands Lucis is losing the war and only the capital city of Insomnia with its magical crystal and barrier cocooning the city is saving them from utter destruction.

Kingsglaive begins with this info dump and shows a now aged Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII (voiced by Sean Bean, so feel free to bet on if this character lives or dies) who realizes he cannot sustain the magical barrier for much longer. Suddenly a ceasefire is offered by the Empire at the cost of surrendering the entire Kingdom and they wish to have our protagonist Prince Noctis Caelum married to Princess Lunafreya Nox Fleuret (voiced by Misses Lannister herself, Lena Headey) to seal the deal. It’s obvious that there’s more going down and it becomes a chess match behind the scenes as both sides ready their hands for the climax. Alas while this is interesting, the story here focuses largely on the film’s namesake, the Kingsglaive. Acting as both covert magical ninjas and the King’s elite guard, the Kingsglaive borrow strength from their King in order to teleport to their weapons location and fight the good fight.

Now what would have worked would be if we occasionally cut to the ceasefire with the King and then had the Kingsglaive as the focal point, helping flesh out what we’re in store for in the game. Sadly this isn’t the case, there’s a plethora of plot threads going on that either add nothing or take us away from where the story should focus.

Having several branching story threads is to be expected in epic long RPGs that add depth to your quest and characters, but here the heavy handed exposition coupled with the hit and miss dialogue feel out of place in a non-interactive format. The action, while great in some areas (particularly in the final confrontation) often feels just as if not more confusing than the plotlines. Often it feels somewhat sluggish and the camera never seems to be able to focus on it without causing borderline noisia. As sparks from weapons and (admittedly dazzling) magical effects fill the screen it becomes too busy for the eye to appreciate the work put into the visuals. Overall the cinematography is lacklustre bar a couple of nice establishing shots. It’s a shame too as graphically the visuals are outstanding; landscapes, lighting and the characters are beautifully rendered.

It’s here where I find myself conflicted, as someone who has studied film and media, every part of my being tells me this is a poor film. As a standalone film that’s meant to introduce people to the Final Fantasy XV universe it falls flat on it’s face, dumping exposition on audiences who’ll likely not be willing to explore further. The cinematography is all over the place and the film’s quality has a lot of ups and downs. Yet, as a fan of the Final Fantasy series and someone who was already looking forward to FFXV’s release (only been waiting about ten years) I’m hyped to finally jump back into an epic quest. It does a great job of setting the scene for the game, it sets the stakes high for what our protagonist will face and the world will hopefully be just as beautiful to traverse. It must be said that the film is clunky with plenty of room for improvement, but Kingsglaive feels like it would have been better suited either after the game’s release or alongside it (as it is in the one of the collector’s editions). It’ll still be debatable if Kingsglaive will be a better experience after playing Final Fantasy XV or if it truly is just a beautifully clunky cutscene.

Final verdict,

Final Fantasy XV: Kingsglaive scores an uneasy 6 out of 10.


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