Earth in Revolt

To understand the obsessive fandom around Final Fantasy VII, look only to Advent Children’s final scene. Protagonist hero Cloud Strife is resurrected, the performs a healing baptism on a child. Given the game’s fervent following, seeing Cloud turned into a Christ figure isn’t that far off.

For a while, Advent Children makes some coherent sense, albeit through messy expository interludes explaining the background lore. At its core, the thematically potent fable of corporate energy barons, a planetary sickness, and a cult blaming their troubles on the planet itself encapsulate familiar climate fears. Interestingly, the story takes place after the heroes succeeded, but their civilization is crumbling. It’s depressive to think this is what victory brought.

Advent Children falls by attempting to appease a built-in fanbase and wider audience

For Cloud, he’s a lost soul, no longer a fighting force for good, merely making it on his own. That leaves room for a character arc that returns him to the fray, battling against a mystical force that brings villain Sepiroth back. Advent Children shows favoritism toward fan service, updating the once simplistic polygon visuals into a CG spectacle – or at least once was. Technology means current videogames consoles can render all of this in real time, and better. A lot of what Advent Children hid behind (the technical veneer) dissipated in time.

What’s left is something mostly incoherent and often absurd. There’s nothing inherently wrong in writing that matches the conjoined videogame, but cinema works differently; that’s not something Advent Children considers. There’s no grounding in logic, and the symbology runs past the extreme, into the ludicrous. The final hour turns into an elongated action scene that sidelines most characters, letting them watch from afar as entire buildings collapse from sword strikes. Whatever internal conflict Cloud suffered from is so easily brushed aside as to render it all pointless.

As a collection of ideas, Advent Children does okay. Imagining the planet’s forces afflicting children is a sensible means of distilling real world climate fears into a fantasy setting. The idea of those same kids rebelling by joining a false prophet promising to fight against the world offers an engaging cause for both hero and villain. Ultimately though, Advent Children falls by attempting to appease a built-in fanbase and wider audience, failing both once those ideas become background fodder.

Video

There’s no reason for Advent Children to reach UHD. Rendered at sub-HD levels, the dismal resolution offers this disc zero advantage over the Blu-ray. If anything, the upscale only makes things worse.

Wide shots create visual litter. Aliasing is extreme, ringing severe, and definition dull. Rudimentary textures (in 2021 anyway) stall fidelity, and in 4K, the limitations only reveal themselves further. Busier backgrounds appear smothered by filters, akin to a high-end N64 game.

Set in a post-apocalypse, color favors a depressed aesthetic. Mostly, it’s stuck in flat earth tones, and there’s little to gain in moving to better tech. HDR helps a little, adding minor kick to the brightly lit scenery, if not enough to make this a significant upgrade or worth a purchase. Black levels drift toward hazier shadows, often devoid of pure black, sticking to a murkier look for mood.

Audio

If there’s any gains to this disc, thank the Atmos tracks, in both Japanese and English. This is a fun boost over the 5.1, aggressively wide in staging action. Superb tracking follows bikes as they drive around, clashing swords, and even dialog. Gunfire rips overhead and pans front-to-back. Great ambiance fills city centers, and open air pushes small breezes into the rears and overheads. Advent Children stays consistently fun and active.

Bass isn’t so consistent, but does provide a capable density. The subwoofer hits potently as needed, accentuating numerous elements, and adding powerful punch to visions/dreams. Giant creatures stomp around, generating a satisfying rumble. Barrett’s arm cannon is beastly. Certain action lacks the same power though. Characters punch through concrete without so much as a jolt, failing to generate oomph that matches the visuals.

Extras

The UHD itself is empty; drop the Blu-ray in for a look back on the videogame series that runs seven minutes. A 23-minute look at Final Fantasy VII plays through the game’s key scenes. Then, a slightly longer compilation includes clips from other games/projects in the storyline. A half hour side story focused on Denzel comes next, with a now dated look at Final Fantasy XIII as the finale.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

A messy sequel to the videogame, Advent Children relies on extensive expository flashbacks to explain itself, losing itself in fan service and attempted mainstream appeal.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 56 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: