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Final Fantasy VII Advent Children
Directed by Tetsuya Nomura
Takeshi Nozue
Produced by Yoshinori Kitase
Shinji Hashimoto
Written by Kazushige Nojima
Starring Japanese:
Takahiro Sakurai
Showtaro Morikubo
Maaya Sakamoto
Ayumi Ito
English:
Steve Burton
Steve Staley
Mena Suvari
Rachael Leigh Cook
George Newbern
Wally Wingert
Steven Blum
Music by Nobuo Uematsu
Keiji Kawamori
Kenichiro Fukui
Tsuyoshi Sekito
Cinematography Yasuharu Yoshizawa
Editing by Keiichi Kojima
Studio Square Enix
Distributed by Square Enix (Japan)
Sony (International)
Release date(s) Theatrical Version:
Japan September 14, 2005
United Kingdom April 24, 2006
United States April 25, 2006
Director's Cut:
Japan April 16, 2009
United Kingdom July 27, 2009
United States June 2, 2009
Running time Theatrical Version:
100 minutes
Director's Cut:
125 minutes
Country  Japan,  England,  United States
Language Japanese, English

Final Fantasy VII Advent Children (ファイナルファンタジーVII アドベントチルドレン Fainaru Fantajī Sebun Adobento Chirudoren?) is a 2005 CGI film directed by Tetsuya Nomura and Takeshi Nozue and produced by Yoshinori Kitase and Shinji Hashimoto. It was written by Kazushige Nojima and the music was composed by Nobuo Uematsu. Advent Children was the first announced title in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII series.

The film is based on the highly successful 1997 console role-playing game Final Fantasy VII. It is set two years after the events of the game, and follows Cloud Strife as he unravels the cause of a mysterious plague called "Geostigma" that has beset the population.

Advent Children received mixed reviews from critics, attaining an approval rating of 33% on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes[1]. In 2005, the film received the "Maria Award" at the Festival Internacional de Cinema de Catalunya, and at the 2007 American Anime Awards it was awarded "best anime feature". As of 2006, the DVD and UMD releases of Advent Children have sold over 10.5 million copies worldwide.

Contents

Plot

Two years after the events of Final Fantasy VII, the survivors of Midgar have begun to build a new city, Edge, on the outskirts of the old metropolis. A strange disease known as "Geostigma" has arisen. After Cloud's showdown with Sephiroth, he has been living with Tifa in Edge. Marlene and an orphaned boy named Denzel have been entrusted to their care. After receiving a message from Tifa, Cloud is attacked by three men, Kadaj (voiced by Showtaro Morikubo in the Japanese version and Steve Staley in the English version), Loz (voiced by Kenji Nomura in the Japanese version and Fred Tatasciore in the English version), and Yazoo (is voiced by Yūji Kishi in the Japanese version and Dave Wittenberg in the English version), who believe that he has hidden their "mother". The leader, Kadaj, ends the battle as he discovers that Cloud does not have their "mother". Cloud responds to a message from Tifa, who tells him that the Turks have a job for him. At the meeting place, Cloud discovers that Rufus Shinra is still alive. Rufus attempts to enlist Cloud's help to stop the trio, but fails as he refuses and leaves. Kadaj arrives and demands that Rufus tell him where to find his "mother". It is revealed that his "mother" is Jenova's remains, and is somehow connected to the cause of the Geostigma. The trio are planning a new "reunion" that will culminate in an assault on the Planet.

Loz arrives at Aerith's church in Midgar in an attempt to find Jenova's remains, and is confronted by Tifa. After battling Tifa, he receives instructions on his cell phone to capture Marlene. Kadaj and the gang begin collecting children infected with Geostigma, including Denzel and the uninfected Marlene, and take them to the Forgotten City. Cloud attempts to rescue them but fails, and is quickly defeated, and is then rescued by Vincent Valentine, who reveals to Cloud what the trio is seeking and that it could result in the return of Sephiroth. Cloud agrees to return to Edge and face Kadaj in battle. In Edge, the trio call forth several monsters to attack the populace, including the summon "Bahamut SIN". While Cloud's companions deal with Bahamut SIN, Reno and Rude try to take care of Yazoo and Loz until Cloud arrives. Cloud and his friends are able to dispatch the monsters and Bahamut SIN.

In a nearby building, Rufus reveals to Kadaj that he has been in possession of Jenova's remains all along. He throws the box containing it from the edge of the building. Kadaj dives after the remains and recovers them shortly after Rufus shoots the box and damaging its contents. Kadaj spots Cloud in pursuit of him, and is followed to the ruins of Midgar. They battle each other in Aeris's church. Kadaj destroys the flowerbed, which releases an outflow of Lifestream-infused water that cures Cloud's Geostigma. Kadaj flees to the ruins of Shinra Headquarters, where they continue their fight. Outmatched, Kadaj absorbs Jenova's remains into his body, allowing Sephiroth to be reborn through the Remnant's body. Sephiroth reveals that once those who die from the Geostigma return to the Lifestream, he will be able to control it and use the Planet as a vessel to travel space in search of a new planet for him to rule. After a heated final battle, Cloud defeats Sephiroth who dissipates leaving a weakened Kadaj at Cloud's mercy. Aeris begins to pour healing rain across Edge, curing the people of their Geostigma. She tells Kadaj to be at peace, who believes her voice to be that of his "mother", and he is taken by the Lifestream. Cloud is then shot by Yazoo in the back. Also succumbing to the healing rain but bent on not going alone, Yazoo and Loz prepare one final blast at Cloud as he charges at them, resulting in a large explosion that engulfs all three.

Afterward, Cloud appears surrounded by a white light, and Aeris and Zack are heard. Aeris tells Cloud that his place is not with them yet, and sends him back. Cloud awakens in a pool of Lifestream-infused water in Aeris's church, surrounded by his friends, family and the citizens of Edge. After curing the Geostigma-infected Denzel, he turns and sees Aeris crouching by some children. As she stands and walks to the doorway, she turns back and says that everything's all right now, and steps into a white light with Zack. Cloud watches them go, and says that he now knows that he's not alone.

Production

The idea for Advent Children came about when script writer Kazushige Nojima wrote a script that was "just a story about Cloud and Tifa and the kids". Visual Works, a company that has developed CG films for Square, picked Final Fantasy VII as the theme for a presentation that they were going to create.[2] Square's research and development department worked with them on its launch, and director Tetsuya Nomura joined the crew after producer Yoshinori Kitase called him. Advent Children was originally going to be a game sequel, but Nomura stated that it was not possible due to a number of factors. However, the development team decided to stick with the original plan and work on it as a movie production.[3]

According to Nomura in the DVD commentary, the original movie was only supposed to be 20 minutes. The details of the original story is that it featured someone requesting a message to be sent to Cloud. The message is then relayed to Cloud through several children and, when the message finally reaches Cloud, it is revealed who the messenger is. Although Nomura insisted that he very much liked the original script, as it became the foundation for the theme of the final result of the movie, he decided to make the project more grand in scope because early word of this movie generated so much interest that a demand for the film to be feature length eventually became so great that Nomura complied.

After Square and Enix merged to Square Enix in 2003, the production of the film started. As there was little time, Nomura began developing a textual storyboard instead of a visual storyboard. He made a timeline of the story and wrote down all the elements of the story from the beginning to the end as keywords. The creators of the film had no prior knowledge of how to make a movie, and it was based on their knowledge of in-game movies. They used motion capture in the film's battle scenes, but the parts that were not humanly possible had to be done by hand.[3]

Music

Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Original Soundtrack was released on September 28, 2005 containing new material created specifically for the movie, as well as arrangements of tunes from the Final Fantasy VII soundtrack. Both the original tracks and the arrangements cover a variety of musical styles, including orchestral, choral, classical piano, and rock music; Variety noted that the styles vary between "sparse piano noodlings, pop metal thrashings and cloying power ballads".[4] The tracks were composed by Nobuo Uematsu, Keiji Kawamori, Kenichiro Fukui, and Tsuyoshi Sekito, and arranged by Fukui, Sekito, Kawamori, Shiro Hamaguchi, and Kazuhiko Toyama. The ending theme "Calling" was written and performed by former Boøwy vocalist Kyosuke Himuro. The album spans 26 tracks on two discs, covers a duration of 1:21:41. In addition to the regular release, a limited edition was produced. It contained alternate cover art displaying the Advent Children renditions of the characters Cloud Strife and Sephiroth and a booklet containing credits and lyrics.[5]

A mini-album titled Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Complete Mini Album was released on April 10, 2009 to coincide with the release of the Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Complete version of the movie.[6] The new release of the movie included a new ending theme, "Safe and Sound", by Kyosuke Himuro and My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way, and replaced "Water" with a new song, "Anxious Heart".[6]

Promotion and release

Final Fantasy VII Advent Children was originally scheduled for a September 14, 2005 release in Japan and a September 13, 2005 release in North America, with Japan obtaining a special release of the DVD with more bonus material and collectible offers than the US release. The official website for the English version of Advent Children had a countdown clock, displaying the number of days, hours, minutes and seconds until this release date. The film was released on DVD on April 25, 2006 and by the 5th week, had sold 963,023 units which translated to $14,860,534 in revenue.[7]

However, days before the release, Square Enix changed the US release date to a tentative November 2005, a move many felt indicated an attempt by Square Enix to release the film during the lucrative holiday sales times. The estimate for release was changed once again in early November to a January release, and due to the release date being pushed back several times, the timer was removed from the official North American site. When fans noted that the E3 2005 trailer had confirmed the simultaneous September release, Square Enix stated that the trailer was not the real E3 trailer and possibly a fake trailer.

In an article for the website The Digital Bits, it was eventually mentioned that the delays were due to the extra time required to complete the bonus supplements. Finally, in an IGN article on February 13, 2006, it was revealed that April 25, 2006 was the new official North American release date.[8] Later the same day, on an article on 1UP.com, the release date was confirmed yet again, along with the entire English voice cast.[9] Square Enix confirmed the info on their US website, indicating that the film was on track for a certain US release.[10] The official film website was updated with the info and a new countdown timer was implemented.

A special one-time only theatrical screening of the English version of the film took place on April 3, 2006 at the ArcLight movie theatre in Los Angeles. The event was promoted via e-mail to those who subscribed to the Square Enix mailing list. The screening featured trailers of Kingdom Hearts II and Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, and was highlighted by appearances of the English language cast and the Japanese developers. The film was rated PG-13 by the MPAA for sequences of intense action violence.

Special editions

The European, Australian, and North American DVD is a 2-disc set that includes several bonus features. Certain retailers offered a bonus disc to go with the DVD set. The disc contains a featurette on the English voice-over process, including interviews with Steve Burton (Cloud), Rachael Leigh Cook (Tifa) and Mena Suvari (Aerith). Sony later announced Final Fantasy VII Advent Children (Limited Edition Collector's Set) for release on February 20, 2007 for an MSRP of $49.95.[11] The set included more bonus material than the previous DVD releases, including printed materials.[12]

Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Complete

At the Tokyo Game Show 2006, Square Enix showed a trailer of a director's cut of the film, titled Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Complete, for release on the Blu-ray Disc format. New scenes will be added to the film. The film also benefits from high-definition video and audio that the Blu-ray format offers. In Japan, it came with a playable demo of Final Fantasy XIII. The cut had formerly been expected to be released in mid 2007, but Square Enix announced at the Tokyo Game Show 2007 that they would postpone the product until 2008.[13]

At the 2008 Square Enix DKΣ3713 Party, it was announced that Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Complete would be released in March 2009 in Japan,[14] but it was delayed soon after and was released on April 16, 2009. A separate bundle was sold that included a demo of Final Fantasy XIII. Both editions included the first HD trailers of Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Final Fantasy Agito XIII. The film features a 20-minute long extra movie on the disc, which is an anime version of the "Case of Denzel" chapter featured in the On the Way to a Smile short story.[14] Advent Children Complete was released in North America on June 2, 2009[15], July 27, 2009, in Europe and October 7, 2009, in Australia. However, both the North American and the European versions do not come with the playable demo of Final Fantasy XIII. Instead, it comes with a new trailer for Final Fantasy XIII.

It contains a considerable amount of new footage that the original version lacks, as well as roughly a thousand revised scenes. This adds a total of 26 minutes to the film, some of the new scenes include a more in depth look at the Geostigma, Denzel and Kadaj's origins, as well as an extended fight between Cloud and Sephiroth. Unlike the original version, which was rated PG-13, this version is unrated.

The Japanese release of this edition features a new ending track from Kyosuke Himuro called "Safe and Sound," with additional lyrics from My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way. The track replaces Himuro's previous track "Calling" from the original cut of the film. However, in the North American and European release, the song "Calling" remains, and "Safe and Sound" is absent.

The film was released in Japanese in three bundles. One included a limited edition 160GB "Cloud Black" PS3 bundle with the Final Fantasy XIII demo, another was the film with the demo, and the last was be the stand-alone film. The film also includes an OVA based on On the Way to a Smile: Case of Denzel, along with never-before-seen trailers for Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Final Fantasy Agito XIII. Nomura also said that Complete may be the last installment of the Compilation for some time, but he and Nozue have other ideas and are contemplating another film project. The North American and European release of the movie saw the new ending song strangely absent, with the original song Calling in its place, although the sequence is cut differently than the original version, which includes new two montages of the characters and some of the newly incorporated scenes, and leads into the slightly extended sequence after the credits end. These releases also saw different cover art and a new trailer for Final Fantasy XIII, although the Versus XIII trailer from the Japanese release is absent.

An offer existed for gamers who purchased a PlayStation 3 80GB system through Gamestop.com or in store, also received a Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Complete Blu-ray movie bonus.

Tie-ins

Last Order: Final Fantasy VII

Last Order: Final Fantasy VII is an original video animation from 2005 directed by Morio Asaka, written by Kazuhiko Inukai, and animated by Madhouse.[16][17] It was originally released with the "Ultimate Edition" of the Advent Children movie, Advent Pieces: Limited, in Japan by Square Enix on September 14, 2005.[18][19] The collectors set was released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in the United States on February 20, 2007.[20] There is currently no English dub and the OVA is subtitled.[21]

The OVA is an anime rendition of two flashbacks that took place in the game. One details events from five years before Final Fantasy VII, revolving around the Nibelheim scenario that focused on Zack Fair, Cloud Strife, Tifa Lockhart, and Sephiroth. The other involves Zack and Cloud on the run from Shinra. The anime cuts back and forth between these two flashbacks, linked by the Turk commander Tseng's reflection on the Nibelheim events.

Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII

Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII is a story digest of Final Fantasy VII, as recalled by Cloud at a time set shortly after the events of Advent Children. It consists of edited scenes from the original PlayStation game and live-action shots of locations seen in the bonus ending. Between flashbacks to the original game's sequences, it relates a short story about Cloud making deliveries while taking phone calls from other members of AVALANCHE.

The basic premise is that Yuffie wants Cloud to take a day off from work, and as a way of telling him she sends a "closed for business" sign to him through Barret. Cloud then calls Tifa and asks her if she can close the bar the next day while he takes a day off from running deliveries. Only the voices of Cloud, Yuffie, Cid, Vincent, and Barret can be heard during the story digest, as there are no actual animated renderings of them featured in Reminiscence. The only CGI in Reminisence is of Cloud's motorcycle parked on the side of the road as Barret gives him Yuffie's package.

On the Way to a Smile

On the Way to a Smile is a series of short stories taking place between the time of Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VII Advent Children. Written by Kazushige Nojima, the first story (Case of Denzel) was released in episodes on the official Japanese Advent Children website, while the series was released in its entirety in V-Jump's Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Prologue book.

The first four chapters are told indirectly through the perspective of Denzel, the young orphan featured in Advent Children. Johnny, the bumbling regular of Tifa's 7th Heaven bar from the original game, has opened up his own bar in the newly built city of Edge. One day Denzel shows up in Johnny's store to have a private meeting with Reeve Tuesti. He has requested an interview with him in the hopes that he may become part of Reeve's newly formed World Regenesis Organization, an army devoted to rebuilding the planet. Denzel then goes on to tell his life story, including how he became an orphan, the events leading up to his becoming afflicted with Geostigma, and how he came into the care of Tifa and Cloud. He also offers a firsthand account of the events of the fateful day when the Lifestream emerged to save the planet from Meteor. The second short story consists of Tifa's account of the events following Meteor's destruction, overlapping in part with Denzel's story. This part of On the Way to a Smile helps to uncover some of the mysteries surrounding the beginning of the film, including identifying its setting and offering further insight into Cloud and Tifa's respective feelings for themselves and one another. A third On the Way to a Smile story was released with the North American limited edition box set of Advent Children. It involves Barret and his struggle with having a weapon for an arm, and trying to find a new energy source for the people of the world, the story also gives insights for the rest of the AVALANCHE members' lives after the events of Final Fantasy VII.

Advent Children Complete includes short stories in this series from the perspective of Yuffie, Red XIII, Rufus Shinra, and the Lifestream itself.

Reception

The DVD release of Advent Children sold over 420,000 copies in Japan in its first week, which was 93% of all published copies at the time.[22] In 2006, Square Enix and Sony announced that the English language DVD and UMD releases combined had sold over 1.4 million units worldwide. Only 100,000 of these sales were in Europe, while the rest was sold in America and Australia. Combined with the Japanese sales, Advent Children had sold over 2.4 million copies.[23] The DVD ranked a "surprise" #2 during its first week in Nielsen VideoScan.[24] Nielsen later made a survey named "Top Selling Anime Releases of 2006" and Advent Children ranked at the top.[25] The film achieved number one on Amazon.com's "Top Sellers" page days before the North American DVD release.[citation needed] In an Oricon poll from 2005, the regular edition from the DVD ranked as the 12th DVD best-selling from Japan with a total of 209,759 copies sold. The limited edition ranked 15th with 202,793 copies sold.[26] In a 2006 survey by the Japan External Trade Organization, the DVD ranked as the top best selling Japanese anime DVD in the United States. In the consecutive 2007 poll, the DVD stayed 10th.[27] During its release week, the Blu-ray format of the film #2 bestselling Blu-ray Disc.[28] In its first day of release, over 100,000 copies of Advent Children's Blu-rays were sold in Japan.[29] According to the retail news source ICv2, Advent Children was one of the top three anime properties in North America during 2007.[30] In ICv2's Top Ten Anime Properties from 2006, Advent Children was featured at the top.[31] During 2009, the blu-ray from Advent Children Complete sold 49,000 units in Japan ranking 2nd in the category "Animation/Special Effects Blu-ray Discs" from Oricon's survey "2009's Top-Selling Blu-ray Discs in Japan (Overall)".[32] It also ranked 8th in the category "Overall Blu-ray Discs, by Yen" with 310 million yen (US$3.4 million) sold in 2009.[33]

Advent Children has received mixed reviews by critics. Chris Carle of IGN praised the sound and the English voice acting, but criticized the lack of commentary in the DVDs extras.[34] He gave the film an overall score of nine out of ten.[35] 1UP.com's James Mielke commented on the quality and clarity of the CG visuals as "genuinely amazing". He did however criticize the film's music, and called it "a bit sappy".[36] Although Anime News Network writer Carlo Santos praised the animation calling it "outstanding", he criticized the film's plot due to the fact that non-players from Final Fantasy VII would not understand the story. The feature Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII was found by Santos to be "just as confusing as the movie and is more of a refresher for those who have played Final Fantasy VII."[37] A similar response was given by Mania Entertainment's John Eriani who commented that anybody who has not played Final Fantasy VII should search for information about the game to understand the film's storyline.[38] Fellow writer Dani Moure agreed with Eriani and added that he liked how the characters were further explored in the film.[39] On the other hand, Todd Douglass Jr. from DVD Talk commented that Advent Children "is pretty much the film that fans all over the world have been waiting for." Besides the animation and the appearances from various characters being praised, Cloud's development in the film was commented to be one of the best parts from the film by Douglass.[40]

Advent Children attained a 33% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 6 reviews,[41] while the PlayStation Portable UMD release of the film got an 88% score at Metacritic, based on five reviews.[42] The film received the Honorary Maria Award at the Festival Internacional de Cinema de Catalunya on October 15, 2005.[43] The film was also awarded for "best anime feature" at the 2007 American Anime Awards.[44]

See also


References

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