It’s not often I watch a movie that is directly tied to a game, so it’s exciting to finally get to review one for the site. Final Fantasy XV’s universe is continuously growing with both its anime and mobile game offerings, however the latest entry into the universe Kingsglaive, is definitely their most directly involved. In a good way!
The movie begins with what appears to be in direct line with the upcoming game as King Regis flees from imperial guards with prince Noctis and princess Luna in tow. However, after a series of events, Luna becomes separated from them and only Regis and Noctis continue onward.
As the real movie begins, twelve years pass and we’re introduced to the Glaives which are a group of elite warriors. What makes the Glaives unique is that they are some of the small few who can tap into the king’s power outside of royalty. The story focuses on Nyx Ulrich (voiced by Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad fame) who is the “hero” of the group and the movie itself. His character is haunted by the memory of a lost sister that only seems to interrupt him at the most inopportune of times and that is where my critiques begin.
FFXV Kingsglaive is the epitome of a tie in movie. Not only that but it becomes immediately apparent right from the start. After one of the most ridiculous action set pieces I’ve ever seen, we’re brought back to the kingdom where Noctis has already fled. This movie covers what happens within the city during the time Noctis is on the first leg of his journey and does its best not to overshadow his story in any way. For that as well as some other considerable reasons, the plot suffers tremendously.
There are often times that the characters will refer to some city or event expecting the audience to immediately understand it, but it’s not something that we’ve experienced before. Mostly due to it being a universe no one is getting a chance to actually play in until November. Beyond that, the character of Nyx is extremely strong in some of his characterizations but during the course of the movie, he gets called a hero by just about everyone he meets. It’s like the movie wants to make sure you understand he is THE protagonist of the film although we already know.
As the film continues, plot holes and other story issues sprout continuously but what is most odd are some of the fade to blacks. There is a period near the end where Nyx’s friend is speaking with Luna and walking to go sit somewhere. They cut to black as he began to walk towards his seat and when it faded back up, he was already seated. It wasn’t dramatic, nothing was being said, just a weird cut. I imagine it was to save on animation however it was done in a way that made me notice it and actually affected the story itself. Similar cuts like this occur during the film and I can’t place my finger on exactly why.
I won’t continue with the story much more however as the forgettable characters, odd translated voice acting choices (outside of the big name actors), and ever building loopholes could keep me here all day. I have to excuse these flaws because I understand that the movie wasn’t meant to break boundaries or win an Oscar. It serves as a way to fill in story gaps and honestly, a large majority of the characters introduced in Kingsglaive won’t ever be seen in the actual game.
With that behind me, I was able to enjoy the movie as a pure spectacle due to its extremely high level of animation. There were often times where I thought they had actually swapped in real people with their virtual counterparts. The movie really shows that Square’s animation is far above anything most movie studios can accomplish. The wrinkles on the older gentleman’s face, dirt and grime on clothing, and my favorite moment: the watering of a friend’s eye as he tried to hold back tears are just a few examples of the extreme level of fidelity that this movie captured.
The animation isn’t always perfect however, which can be seen in a few scenes such as one where the Glaives are eating and some jarring transitions are apparent. I believe that was where they were saving some money as it was almost a throw away scene with just arms and faces moving. However, it is rather noticeable if you’re looking for it.
The high level of animation really helped during what I believe is the strongest point of the movie, the battles. Similar to FFVII: Advent Children, the fights in Kingsglaive are simply amazing. So much so that looking at the actual in game fight scenes almost seem dull and boring by comparison. There are a good number of both action and battle scenes during the film ranging from a giant war between behemoths and black mages casting a dire tornado on a roof to an almost 20 minute long fight at the end between Nyx and the villain of the film. The flashes, particle effects, teleporting, sword clashing, and bullets flying really made the film stand out and I never got tired of watching them. In a way, when they returned to the plot, it was almost like watching filler before the next battle where Nyx kicked some dude’s ass began.
Between the lackluster story and amazing visual fidelity / action set pieces, it would seem hard to say that Kingsglaive is a good film. What I can say however is that it is a great tie in and video game movie. Where a great film excels at engaging you in a story, a strong movie can keep your attention for two hours without trying. That’s right, this movie clocks in at an hour and 55 minutes and the time passed quicker than I ever expected. As the credits rolled, I did wonder how the events of the film would affect Noctis and the guys’ journey and guessed they’d have to return to the city at some point. It really made me want to get FFXV which may actually be what Square was after. The movie brims with FF goodness including a surprise cameo by a series familiar but in the end, I’d have to rewatch it once the game comes out to remember exactly what happened plot-wise.
Almost like the prettiest girl attending a school for the mute; FFXV: Kingsglaive is great to look at but doesn’t have a whole lot to say.
Andron (or Ace as he likes to call himself) is the so called "Head Honcho" of Bombchu.com. He has a deep passion for video games primarily RPGs, Fighting or Adventure. When not gaming, he's furiously typing on his keyboard or coming up with new schemes.