With all of this talk about the gaming legacy that is Final Fantasy VII, it would be quite the oversight to not talk about the film sequel we were granted. Originally released in Japan in 2005 and then reaching American shores shortly after, this film was meant to be a direct follow-up to the original game. A small disclaimer to this, I have never actually seen it mentioned as to whether or not this movie is truly canon. Personally I believe it is, simply based on the people behind it, but I let will you all discuss that amongst yourselves. For now, let’s focus on the actual plot:
WARNING: THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS ARTICLE FOR BOTH THE GAME AND THE MOVIE.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!!!
Set two years after the events of the first game, we find the world still in one piece after Sephiroth’s failed attempt to destroy it. However, all is not completely at peace. It seems that a large number of people, mostly children from what I saw, are being affected by a new illness known as “Geo-Stigma” (GS). According to the opening narrative, this is the planet’s revenge for draining the life stream for energy. It’s kind of like if Earth struck back at us for pollution by giving people cancer……which sounds scary plausible the more I think about it….Anyway, it turns out that our “hero” Cloud has also been stricken with GS but isn’t telling anyone, because for some reason he is still a brooding loner.
This is definitely one of my biggest issues with the film. How in the crap, after everything he went through in the original game and with 2 extra years to heal and have people around him who care, does he still have such ridiculous emotional issues? I know they work it into the narrative sort of, but even Tifa is exasperated by it, not sympathetic, exasperated.
He is out by a very familiar site in FF7 on his pretty sweet bike when he is attacked by three new enemies” Loz, Yazoo, and Kadaj who is the defacto leader. This a good place to mention that while the villains are not super memorable, they aren’t exactly terrible either. All three are “Remnants” of Sephiroth and are trying to gather the remains of their “Mother”, Jenova, in order to fully resurrect him. So their motive is pretty well established and they have some cool weapons to boot. I especially like that Yazoo has a gunblade. I guess what really hurts them is that while they are a real threat and very dangerous enemies, we all know the real reason we’re watching is for the return of Sephiroth, and if it’s not obvious to you that he comes back, then I am sorry you have never seen a movie before.
After he fends off the attack, Cloud checks his voicemail and heads out to a meeting with Rufus Shinra, who is looking a lot worse for wear. After a combo attack of Geo Stigma and a helicopter crash, well let’s just say he’s no George Clooney. Anyway, he wants Cloud to stop the new Trio, and he says no. Emo-ness aside, this is where I noticed something was slightly off with the audio. I have a personal DVD copy that I watched to refresh my memory and I did watch the English Dub, and I can’t exactly put my finger on it but I don’t know if it was the DVD, my TV, or what, but the voices sounded not really well mixed at times. The voice acting itself was fine (all hail Steve Blum as Vincent!), but it was like it was placed a couple of notches too loud for the scene that was happening at multiple times throughout the movie. I guess I could have tried the Japanese audio to see they had a similar issue, but in spite of all of the Kamen Rider and Super Sentai I have watched, I have yet to learn moon speak. It’s nit-picky sure, but it tended to take me out of the movie from time to time.
Shortly after this, Loz follows Tifa to the Church we originally met Aerith at in FF7, and the two throw down. A huge positive for this movie show really well here, the action. I am an action junkie, so if you show me a competent well-paced fight scene, I don’t care how unrealistic the fighting is, you have my attention. And thankfully this movie has some really good ones. Loz ultimately steals the Materia that Cloud had been storing there, and takes Marlene, Barrett’s daughter, to the Forgotten City with all of the GS infected children that Yazoo and Kadaj have rounded up. I couldn’t figure out the real reason behind this plan other than it helped them somehow brain wash the infected children, oh well it’s honestly not that important.
Cloud attempts to save the child zombie/slaves from the Remnants; however he fails and is saved by Vincent. Cloud cries, Vincent tells him to get over it, next scene. Kadaj has the children standing around a statue in Midgar because they believe Jenova is hid there. Reno and Rude, yea those guys, go in to try and stop them. And while they put up a good fight, they are simply no match for Loz and Yazoo. Cloud and all of his friends arrive to try and stop all of the monsters released by the Remnants, and are doing very well…..until Kadaj uses Materia to summon a giant futt-bucking dragon! That’s right, Bahamut SIN has now made his presence felt. After some taking away enough HP and finding out that no one has been skipping arm day in the past two years, Cloud is launched into the sky by his friends, breaks Mach-1, AND KILLS BAHAMUT WITH HIS SWORD. I can’t tell if that was bad@$$ or turning on God Mode.
In the middle of all of this chaos, it is revealed that Rufus had the remains of Jenova the entire time. Because for some reason no one thought to check under his blanket while confined to his wheel chair…not the smartest villains in the batch. He tries to destroy it, but Kadaj grabs it and runs off with it. Cloud gives chase, and manages to fight off Loz and Yazoo just long enough for Reno and Rude to suicide bomb them with “Shinra’s finest” and “flashy” technology. Cloud confronts Kadaj while the rest of the gang watches from the Highwind.
So here we go. After some sword-play, Kadaj absorbs Jenova and sure enough, the main event is about to start. He becomes Sephiroth and the real battle begins. I am going to nit-pick on this part. I accept that Kadaj is some weird remainder of Sephiroth, but for Jenova to create a perfect clone of him is just really odd to me. I guess you could say he’s some sort of back up stored in Kadaj’s DNA and Jenova fully unlocks it, but that just makes me ask why he couldn’t just be another pure Sephiroth clone to begin with since Jenova is what made Sephiroth become Sephiroth. Yea I know, suspension of disbelief, but these are important life questions.
The two have a pretty good fight honestly, rock remixes of the in game music and good graphics really help not only this scene but the whole movie, especially considering this movie is 10 years old now. Stylistically it very closely resembles Resident Evil Degeneration. Both Cloud and Sephiroth wax philosophically during the fight, with the latter talking down to his opponent the entire time. Sephiroth looks like he has the upper hand, however after remembering what he cherishes in this world (it’s everything apparently, go figure), Cloud unleashes all of his swords and knowledge of every anime final battle ever, activates his fighting spirit/hope/love/anger/limit break and uses them in a new style Omnislash, which is actually a pretty cool attack I used in Dissidia, and defeats Sephiroth once and for all. You know unless they decide to make another sequel. However, instead of dying like a normal person, Sephiroth says something cryptic, wraps himself in his one wing and then disappears in a feather cloud, like a boss. He leaves behind a mortally wounded Kadaj, who dies. And then Loz and Yazoo show up suddenly to blow up Cloud…which they fail at, which makes that last part totally necessary.
After this, magic rain (seriously) starts falling from the sky and cures every one of their Geo-Stigma, why this happens I honestly don’t know, it’s probably all tied in with Jenova. Cloud wakes up in the church surround by his friends after Zack and Aerith tell him in a dream it is not yet his time. He smiles and says that everything is ok now, thus ending our adventure.
So what’s the final judgement call on this movie? Well If I had to put some kind of arbitrary score on this film I would say it’s about a 75%. It’s definitely an enjoyable movie, however its biggest downfall is its plot. It was clearly written as an excuse to have Cloud and Sephiroth fight again, and while I am not against them fighting, overall the movie does nothing to truly further the story and characters, who don’t really do very much outside of the Bahamut battle, of this franchise other than Cloud can finally stop being a brooding loner. Otherwise, the action is enjoyable, the music and CGI hold up really well, and in spite of their very small involvement it was really good to see all of the characters again. Would I recommend buying? Honestly, yes I would. Not for say $50 for some super edition with a creepy poster of Tifa and Cait Sith key chain. But if you found it for say $10-$15 on Blu-Ray, I would say pick it up, watch every now and then with friends, and enjoy the extras, because at the end of the day, it is still a fun ride.