Review – Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV

Kingsglaive Final Fantasy XV Poster

Kingsglaive Final Fantasy XV Poster

Even if you’re not a gamer, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve heard the name “Final Fantasy” before. Counting all the various spinoffs, compilations, etc. there have been over one hundred Final Fantasy video games since 1987, with the latest in the main series – number fifteen – slated for release this year. Suffice to say, it’s a pretty popular franchise, and one ripe for cinematic adaptation.

The third animated film based in the Final Fantasy world, Kingsglaive runs parallel to the story players will experience when the newest game hits shelves in November. Boasting some recognizable voice talent in Sean Bean, Lena Headey and Aaron Paul it looks amazing. And that’s about the extent of it.

Set in a world of magical crystals used by ninja-esque knights to battle giant demons carried by airships while royal princesses are involved in high-speed chases in pimped out Audis, it’s bound to cause some head scratching among the uninitiated.  I’ll be honest, I have no idea if this combination of old school high fantasy and slick modern steampunk inspired sci-fi is normal for the franchise or just this particular iteration. It certainly took me aback though, even if I liked the contrasting styles.

As I said, it looks amazing. Mrs. Hamster caught a few scenes and assumed it was live action.  The people, if you look close, still have that uncanny valley air about them, most noticeable if they’re speaking.  Everything else though is as, or more, photo real than CG you’d expect in a big budget fantasy blockbuster like Warcraft.  The moment the characters open their mouths though, any illusion of realism goes out the window. If you’ve ever wondered what an entire movie made up of cutscenes from games would be like, here’s your answer.  Battle scenes are invigorating and well choreographed while dialogue is stilted and choppy with voices not quite lining up with the mo-capish mouths.  The story, too, suffers in this comparison.  In a game there would be, well, gameplay between scenes to connect them.  Here, scenes just end and start incredibly abruptly without interaction to flesh out the story.

I’m not too proud to admit – I was lost half the time, even if I was intrigued. The world is obviously complex with a rich mythology, but it’s explained very little at much of the time, while at others we’re subject to a load of people, places, and ideas that are just unceremoniously dumped onto the screen, very little of it sticking. Yet I was still anxious to see what happened (never mind that I was rather disappointed by the end), and more or less entertained along the way despite not really knowing what was going on. There is obviously the seed of something worth exploring here, this movie just doesn’t do a very good job with it.

Ultimately this is not a movie for the average movie-goer though, that has to be acknowledged. It is for the franchise fans who will eat up this gorgeous looking backstory before delving into the game in a few months. In that sense, it succeeds and I’m confident that if you fall into that category of eager fans, you will find more than enough to make this film worth your while.

Mrs Hamster did not screen this film

Brother Hamster did not screen this film

My rating: Three hats if you’re a fan eagerly awaiting the game, two if you’re not.

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Trailer:

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is already in select theaters and is available on VOD August 30

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