Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

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 All the gravity defying, it confuses me.

In lieu of finally beating Final Fantasy VII, I decided we should go ahead and watch the movie sequel, Advent Children. I’m sure most of you in their target audience has already seen it; Final Fantasy veterans who have a soft spot for VII, or enjoy seeing beautiful HD models of characters we remember as blocks and polygons. I’m a complete sucker/fangirl who buys into most of this stuff that tugs at my nostalgia heartstrings. I’ve seen this movie a few times, it’s on my shelf, and I figured now would be a good time to write about it.

I’m writing on the “Complete” edition, which includes about 25 minutes of removed scenes from the original release. These are scenes that had no business being taken out in the first place. They actually explain where the hell Denzel came from (but if you want the full monty, watch the included anime that is literally his entire background story) and lots of Sephiroth giving Cloud stabbies. Like, lots of stabbies. Blood everywhere. It was awesome. The first time I saw the Masamune shank Cloud through the shin I knew I was in love. Like I said, I’m not entirely sure why they removed so much of Sephiroth’s badassery, but seeing that made me happy. Otherwise, Sephiroth and Cloud’s big battle is a lot of them flying through the air and slashing buildings apart. I didn’t realize that after Holy and Meteor were summoned, gravity just stopped existing. Selectively, of course.

I don’t mean to say that I can’t suspend my disbelief because of the cast’s new affinity for zipping around in the sky instead of actually fighting. This is based on a video game where Tifa could pick up and drop kick monsters that were literally twenty times her size. I just wasn’t crazy about the fact that all the fight scenes (Minus Tifa’s fight against Loz, which is my favorite part) take place on bikes or in the sky.

Much like the game it is based on, the plot is something you don’t want to think too hard about, lest you melt the portion of your brain dedicated to processing logic and critical thinking.  Just take the movie for what it is; a chance to revisit Midgar two years later in gorgeous cinematic glory with a mandatory visit from Sephiroth at the end. In terms of characters from FFVII, you’ll see a whole lot of Cloud and Tifa. They look great, if you can ignore Cloud’s Geostigma bleeding. Ok, Tifa looks great. It appears as though she even got a breast reduction, which confuses me because I’m not sure how she thinks that’ll make Cloud pay more attention to her.

What they’ve done personality-wise to the characters is a bummer; Cloud is an annoying emo whine-ass, pining over a girl he barely knew because he was unable to save her (she wanted to die, get over it). And Tifa is, ya know, still a doormat. She should’ve moved on a long time ago. She finally gives Cloud the ass-kicking he deserves, but sadly, that’s her defining moment in the movie.  The rest of the playable cast in FFVII are lucky if they get cameo appearances. Hey, at least that means Barret can keep up with the “absentee father” role he’s so good at. This time around, instead of blowing up Mako reactors he’s drilling for oil. Way to hop from one method of slowly killing the planet to another!

If nothing else, with the little bit of the supporting cast you do get to see, they look good! Red XIII got some fancy jewelry, Yuffie ditched the green for some stylish black, and Vincent is… Vincent. Obnoxious pointy-gold shoes and all. In fact, during the movie you’ll see a lot more of the Turks. They play center stage, pretending ShinRa wants to make up for almost getting the planet destroyed by hiding Jenova’s head from her wannabe-baby-Sephiroths.

Spoiler: Rufus somehow survived the ShinRa tower blowing up with him inside of it.

Aesthetically, the movie is absolutely gorgeous. Even a few years later. Just don’t get too hung on it conceptually. I have to admit, I’m pretty biased against sequels in general. Especially with games that have endings crafted to let the audience develop their own theories. FFVII and FFX standout to me as the main entries that do so. Ironically enough, they’re the ones that have the sequels. It wasn’t enough to have the scene of Red XIII and kitties looking over the ruins of Midgar and wondering if humanity survived or not? It wasn’t enough to watch a teaser of Tidus swimming towards the surface, and wondering if it was him being given new life or if it was just a memorial scene? No, they had to go and milk them some more.

Only watch this movie if you’re a Final Fantasy VII nut. You’ll probably be disappointed with the story and characters, but the movie really isn’t marketable to anyone outside of FFVII fandom. There’s really no hope of understanding or enjoying what is going on if you haven’t played the game.  And if you have played the game, your chances are only marginally higher.

One other cool thing I forgot to mention: awesome soundtrack with great mixes of some of the game’s original soundtrack!

Silent Hill: Revelation

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Why is Pyramid Head even here?!

Oh, where to start? Silent Hill: Revelation has been on Netflix so I’ve been meaning to watch it in the comfort of my own living room for a while now. It is only an hour and a half of time spent wishing this wasn’t a sub par video game-to-film adaptation, even of its own niche. While I won’t put it on par with the last couple of Resident Evil movies they’ve churned out, it is still pretty abysmal.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume the following people are the only ones who went out of their way to see this film: fans of the video game, fans of horror movies, and unfortunate tag alongs. I’m a fan of the video game, of course. Actually, Silent Hill 3 (the video game entry this is loosely based on) was the first Silent Hill I managed to complete. Sure, I had all the lights on and hugged a strategy guide while playing, but I did it! Like other Silent Hill fans, SH3 left a lasting impression on me. I tried to leave my lofty impressions at the door when I entered the movie theater to see this for the first time, but I’m still amazed at the screenwriter’s complete disregard for the base material. Seriously. Filmmakers must have something against taking a perfectly understandable video game story and recycling it into a movie. I have no problem seeing the same plot regurgitated into a film. I’d imagine that’s why fans go to see these movies. I don’t want to speak for everyone, but when I go see a movie based on a video game or a book I’ve read, I want it to be a live-action representation of what I’ve imagined based on the source material. Some artistic license is understandable. A complete bastardization is not.

I think those grounds alone, not counting what I’ll be going on about soon, are enough for die-hard fans to be disappointed about. People who like horror movies who went to see this for a Halloween fright were probably disappointed as well. Because, really, this movie ain’t scary. It has some good imagery (I’m a sucker for the Otherworld transitions), but nothing compares to the first Silent Hill movie. See, the first Silent Hill movie completely screwed with the story as well. But it had horrifying events and images that screamed Silent Hill. I’ve only watched the first SH movie twice and there are scenes I can instantly recall with a shudder. Barbed-wire rape scene, anyone?

Revelations did no such thing for me. The only part that really stuck out for me was the mannequin room. Not because it scarred me for life, either. Just because I liked that part in the game and the new mannequin monster had a cool design. I really wish they would’ve made real-life counterparts to some of the monsters in SH3. The annoying Double Head dogs (damn I hated those things), the frustrating Pendulums, the disgusting “Insane Cancer” enemies… None of them got any love. In fact, all we got of Valtiel was a freakin’ statue. Sure, the statue Sean Bean got to hang from was neat, but I wanted to see Valtiel, just like in the game! But no, they basically swapped his role with Pyramid  Head. Valtiel was supposed to be Heather’s “guardian,” to ensure she made it to Silent Hill so god could be born. I’m so annoyed with Pyramid Head being Silent Hill’s mascot. Anyone who has played Silent Hill 2 can tell you Pyramid Head is the bomb diggity but he doesn’t belong anywhere except SH2. He is a figment of James Sunderland’s imagination, for crying out loud! While I appreciate being able to see Pyramid Head in sweet HD lopping off limbs and heads, he’s being cheapened and it upsets me.

One basic storytelling rule I was given while obtaining my creative writing degree that I still agree with is, “Show, don’t tell.” I personally feel that this applies to all kinds of storytelling; be it novel, film or video game. Use action and movement to show what you’re trying to get across, don’t bore your audience with history lessons and soliloquies. Revelations had way too much “Blah blah The Order, blah blah Alessa,” moments and not enough “For the love of god what is going on?!” moments. Even the quirky “Happy Birthday” phone call from Leonard would have been welcome. Again, not enough twisted and frightening moments to make this Silent Hill or horror movie material. They’re too busy boring the audience to death with a Silent Hill history lesson.

The acting in the movie was as good as it was gonna get, given the poor dialogue. Sean Bean’s “Ode to Rose” in the beginning was pretty terrible. Anything that isn’t a Shakespeare sonnet that starts off with, “Rose, my love,” instigates my gag reflex. I have no complaints about anything else I’ve seen Sean Bean in, but again, the poor writing probably has a lot to do with it. Much like Kit Harrington trying to pull off a teenage Vincent the writers threw in so Heather could have a love interest… puke! Their entire “Dream Versus Reality” conversation that somehow devolved into Vincent trying out the world’s worst pick-up line was painful to watch. I really can’t believe they did that to his character. AND **SPOILER** they killed off Douglas in the first twenty minutes of the movie! He was creepy, but still. At that point I knew there was no chance for the movie to have the “Possessed Heather” ending.

I know I keep coming back to how they mutilated the story and characters, but I can’t help it. I will at least say this: before seeing Revelations for the first time, I KNEW no one would have the balls to include Heather puking up a fetus and then show crazy Claudia choking it down, only to explode when “giving birth” to god. I knew that scene would never make the final cut in a movie being marketed to relatively mainstream media. I didn’t get my hopes that high. But the alternate ending written for the movie, while including Pyramid Head kicking ass and not taking any names, still left a bit to be desired. The ending teaser makes me almost hope they do another movie. Do Downpour’s story (the story was one of the few things I liked about Downpour), even though I know they’ll mess it up, have daddy and mommy reunite, and end this crap. Bow down gracefully instead of dragging it on through a million installments like Resident Evil.

They did right by including songs from the game soundtracks. The work Akira Yamaoka did on Silent Hill 2 and 3 is incredible. The music, opening dream sequence, and mannequin room were the only parts of the movie that satiated me. Unfortunately, they were too brief and too spaced out.

Fans of the video games will hang on throughout the movie, hoping to feel like they’re  being transported back to Silent Hill. I fear Revelations is too dull and not engaging enough to interest anyone else. I’m no movie critic by any means, but I can tell you that when it comes to movie adaptations of video games, this is one of the lowest of the low.