When one thinks of Final Fantasy, chances are the seventh game in the series first comes to mind. I recently played through it, and definitely see why it's legendary. The story is unbelievably engaging, especially the struggle with Cloud against Sephiroth. Since then, there have been quite a few things released relating to that particular game. Prequels, ovas, but perhaps the most popular and important of them all is Advent Children. Released in 2005, eight years after the game came out, it acts as a direct sequel, taking place two years after the fall of Meteor. I had seen it a few years ago, but now that I've actually played the game, I've gained a newfound appreciation for it.
The story like anything Final Fantasy related, (well, maybe not the Theatrhythm games) is pretty complex. Remnants of Sephiroth have risen from the Northern Cave and are looking for 'Mother,' aka Jenova. This Geostigma sickness is spreading, affecting especially the children, It'll take a reunion between friends to put an end to it and Sephiroth's revival. That's probably the best way I can summarize it. While obviously not as deep as the game's story, it's a lot to take in. And this is the only minor negative, you can't really appreciate this movie unless you've played the game. I don't suppose that is a negative, but it's definitely made for fans. (Which is also kinda refreshing in a way, since it doesn't bother trying to hook in newcomers and instead throws the player into the World Map once again.)
It's pretty cool to hear all the voices, everyone is pretty much perfect. Cloud is more quiet and passive than even his game-self, but one must expect that after all which has happened between the ending of the game and film. Tifa appears the most out of the group, and is just as cool as her game-self. (Her fight with Loz is one of the highlights.) It takes awhile for Barret, Cid, Yuffie, Cait Smith, and Red XIII to appear. I personally thought it was a blast to see them all in glorious CGI. Vincent, despite being an optional character in the game, has a pretty strong presence. He was definitely a highlight.
The villains until Sephiroth's return are his 'remnants,' Kadaj, Yazoo, and Loz. The story doesn't do the best job establishing that they are Sephiroth's remnants. Unless you're really paying attention to every single word being said, you may miss that part. As for they themselves...they're okay. They're more annoying than likable and you can't help but want Sephiroth to come back already throughout since these guys are pretty lackluster. The Turks are surprisingly highlights, being what they were meant to be in the game: funny and likable characters. It was good seeing Rufus and his wanting atonement. I really like how it gave a flashback to when Weapon exploded his base in the game.
The CGI is very good, and looks quite stunning in glorious Blu-ray quality. The fights are fantastic, from Tifa's fight with Loz to Cloud's bout with Sephiroth, this film has some of the best fights you'll find. In the course of two hours, the film manages to squeeze in two major battles, the fight against Bahamut and the one with Sephiroth. Bahamut looks especially fantastic in this CGI rendition, full of power and some personality. The soundtrack is great, with a couple of themes lifted straight from the game. The biggest one is a new version of 'One Winged Angel.' Some parts of the soundtrack I thought could have perhaps been more lifted from the game instead of new themes such as the one with TIfa against Loz. Though, I do love how Loz's ringtone is the winning theme from the game.
Overall, Advent Children is a very nice companion piece/sequel to the legendary Final Fantasy VII. You can't really appreciate or truly comprehend what's happening without having played the game however. (Other than Vincent and Tifa, I don't remember any other characters being referred to by name except maybe Yuffie.) It's not very new-viewer friendly, but in a way it doesn't really matter in the long run since this was made for people that did play the game. It has fantastic CGI fights, the characters are a blast to watch in motion, and it's FF VII. Pick up the Complete Blu-ray edition if you haven't already.