The Other Side of Animation 58: Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV Review

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In Short, multimedia projects are tricky to pull off. You could do well with the toys, comics, the movie, and TV show the multimedia project is based on, but one bad project could instantly spoil or give a bad first impression of said project. That’s what unfortunately happened to certain multimedia projects like Sonic Boom, which was all pretty solid until the Wii U tie-in game came out and ruined the first impressions of this new iteration of Sonic the Hedgehog. It was broken, not fun to play, not a well-designed game, and it is the worst selling game in the franchise. Luckily, everything else was pretty solid so, it saved itself from being an utter failure.  Well, Square Enix decided that they wanted to do something like Sonic Boom and decided to make an anime miniseries, and it is the topic of today’s review, Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV. This film that takes place in the upcoming games’ universe was directed by Takeshi Nozue, and has some surprisingly big actors in it, including Aaron Paul, Sean Bean, and Lena Headey. Normally, I wouldn’t review stuff like this, but since it had a limited run in theaters, and is connected to one of the biggest gaming franchises of all time, I definitely had to cover it. So, what do I think of the film? Well, unless you want to see some amazing realistic CGI, then you won’t get much unless you are planning on playing the video game.

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Anyway, this film is a prequel film that takes place before the opening hours of the video game. It follows a group of elite guards known as the Kingsglaive. They help protect the king of Lucis, Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII, voiced by Sean Bean. The lead character that the plot revolves around is one of the Kingsglaive named Nyx Ulric, voiced by Aaron Paul. One day after a major battle against the kingdom of Niflheim, Nyx, along with his friends, is hired to help protect a female political figure named Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, voiced by Lena Headey. Of course, things begin to go wrong, and it’s a race to protect the giant crystal guarding Lucis, making sure Lunafreya doesn’t get killed or captured, and of course, set up the events that will lead into the video game.

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So, what’s the best thing about this movie? Well, it’s the animation. While this might be a similar situation to Square Enix’s past CGI films, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, this is probably the best-looking of all the films. Its textures and animation are outstanding. This is easily some of the most realistic-looking character models and animation that I have ever seen done in terms of cgi-animated films. Everything looks amazing, and while it doesn’t fully do the whole “you won’t be able to tell this is cgi” kind of realistic, it’s still incredibly commendable with how good this looks. The fighting is also very flashy and fun to watch. I think it’s because of how agile the characters are, and how they use magic to throw their knives and be able to teleport to the knife. It’s definitely something you will have to see for yourself, or play the game to understand what I mean with the whole “teleporting combat”. The final act where the entire city is just torn apart and the enemies are invading is really intense, and it is a spectacle when you see the giant stone guardians of the city come to life.

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Sadly, that is pretty much it for the compliments, because everything else is pointless. The lead characters are not memorable in the slightest. If you have seen any generic anime or action show with a team of characters including the bland male lead, the heavier-set well-intentioned best friend, the tough chick, and the snarky male. Heck, some of them don’t get to even be characters, like the tough chick gets killed so early in the film that it’s hard to care about her death. Heck, it’s hard to feel invested with a lot of these characters, because only a handful actually matter to the main story that will be in the video game. This means that unless you plan on picking up the game, you probably won’t or already don’t care about what happens to these characters. The only time you get to see the actual leads from the video game is at the very beginning and at the very end. Even if you look past the whole video game tie-in aspect of the film, it’s a painfully generic and boring film with only a few highlights of action and animation. I mean, at least this film is attached to the newest game in the franchise, and isn’t a pointless film like The Spirits Within, which is barely part of the Final Fantasy franchise.

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I also found the film to be difficult to watch at times. It’s too flashy, and sometimes there is too much on screen to make it easy to watch. I think it’s because the film is overly detailed with its world and characters. It’s a beautiful movie that is just sometimes clustered with details and sometimes not-so-subtle product placements.

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Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is an almost pointless film that is part of a multi-media product. Unless you are a gamer and want to check this out, I would avoid it unless you want to see every animated film that was able to be in theaters. It’s a film that is flawed because it’s tied to a video game. If it had more freedom with its setting, and essentially, not being a part of a multi-media project, then it would have been better. As a film, I can think of much worse movies I have seen this year, like next week, we will look at one of the biggest U.S. bombs of 2016 and of all time, The Wild Life. Thanks for reading, I hope you all liked the article, and see you all next time.

Rating: Rent it!

The Other Side of Animation: A Monster in Paris Review

It’s always disappointing when you read up about a film, finally watch it, and love/hate it at the same time. The movie in question could have so many great elements that make it a great movie. Regretfully, it also shuffles in a lot of elements that make the film less desirable. A Monster in Paris is a prime example of this. It’s directed by Bibo Bergeron, a director mostly known for a lot of animation credits and a few directorial positions with The Road to El Dorado and Shark Tale. I know I already have hinted at what I think of the movie, but how about you read on to see my opinion in more detail?

The story begins in 1910 when Paris was flooded. We focus our attention on two of the protagonists, a theater projectionist named Emile, voiced by Jay Harrington, and a delivery driver named Raoul, voiced by Adam Goldberg. The two of them are going about on Raoul’s delivery route so Emile can pick up a reel belt for a camera at the theater. Along the way, they arrive at a scientist’s mansion for another delivery, and since the two men had nothing better to do, they bring the stuff that needed to be delivered to the scientist inside the mansion, and check out some of the chemicals and experiments the good professor was working on. After fumbling around with some chemicals, they accidentally cause an explosion in the lab side of the building, and end up not only making one gigantic sunflower, but a monster that escapes the building and goes into Paris. The monster ends up befriending a singer/cabaret performer named Lucille, voiced by Vanessa Paradis. Lucille finds out that the monster is not so harmful, enjoys playing the guitar, and has a rather nice singing tone. It’s kind of like a soft folkish sound. She ends up naming the monster Francoeur, who is played by Sean Lennon in the US version. Can Lucille, Raoul, and Emile keep Francoeur from getting caught by the commissioner of the police? Can they find a way to save Paris from the flooding?

What really upsets me about this movie is that there are a lot of great elements that I love about it. For example, let’s talk about our “monster” Francoeur and Lucille. Lucille is not the most original female character, a strong-willed, but sometimes snarky female hero, but I enjoy the scenes when she interacts with Francoeur. Francoeur himself has a great design when he is fully clothed. I still don’t get why it has to be a flea, but I digress. I also enjoy his character a lot, even if he is also a bit simple. He is intimidating, but kind-hearted, and at times protective. I really loved the first scene where he and Lucille dance and sing in the theater. Granted, the music might be a bit out of place in terms of the time period, but it has a nice alternative sound to it. It has also some great visual moments with both bright colors and soft hues. The overall look of the film, while not as high quality as a Disney or Pixar CGI film, has style and personality to it. When it does its little artistic moments and goes at its own beat, the film is quite enjoyable to watch. It’s the reason why you love watching films like Triplets of Belleville or Song of the Sea. There is no feeling that a higher-up wanted something to make it more hip and soulless. No product placement that ruins the vibe of the film like Free Birds or Food Fight. It attempts to be its own kind of film.

The problem this movie has is about everything else. It tries to be a lot like a Disney or Pixar film. It has the Pixar art style and a lot of pointless and sort of rushed romances. The rushed romance part comes with the short projectionist character, Emile, who has a crush on this woman who works at a ticket counter at the theater. Regretfully, she is not at all interesting, and is really there just to be a romantic interest. The relationship between Raoul and Lucille is not the worst, but it’s weirdly paced, and once again, not very interesting. Even the villain, who can be the most enjoyable character in a lot of Disney/Pixar films, is boring. He is just a typical corrupt individual who wants power, even though he already has a lot of power already. Danny Huston, the actor who voices the main villain, Victor Maynott, doesn’t have a lot to work with. In fact, it seems like the writers and people behind developing the setting and story didn’t really think of making dynamic characters, and only put in the most cookie-cutter of character types that you see in most animated films and films in general. It really doesn’t help that the plot is fairly predictable. You can predict about everything that is going to happen with each character and set-up.

The animation, while better than a lot of third-party CGI studios make, is still lackluster in a lot of areas. If you have seen that CGI Star Wars series (Rebels or Clone Wars, pick your poison) or any of the TV series that Dreamworks has made, then the animation quality is about on par with those. The movements are stilted, and it is just so obvious that the budget was not up to par with anything by Disney or Pixar. Not that having a huge budget means the film will be better. I think a lot of the big Disney flops have shown that, but it means that your animation won’t look awkward. To give the animation credit, it does avoid the trope of having really dead-looking eyes that are seen in films like The Snow Queen and Mars needs Moms.

In the grand scheme of things, I think A Monster in Paris does have ambition and creativity on its side, but when it tries to be every other Disney/Pixar film out there, it falls flat. I hate that I can’t put this in the “Check it Out!” grade because I do kind of like this movie. I think if they took it full-on artsy and had the monster be some kind of fictional being that walks around Paris representing something like the boundless creative freedom and passion that good musicians have, or something abstract, but not pretentious, it would have been a much better movie. They should have gutted a few of the characters and took more inspiration from filmmakers like Tom Moore, or again, the team behind Ernest and Celestine. However, if you really want to check it out, I don’t see the harm in it. Maybe you will like it more than I did, or hate it more than I did. I have read I am in the minority of thinking the film is just above average and not a full-fledged hidden gem. Well, I have been rather negative/average with the last three reviews, how about I tackle something good again? How about…a French animated film that revolves around Judaism? Next time, we take a look at The Rabbi’s Cat. Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

My Rating: Rent it