Kingsglaive - Finally, a Good Final Fantasy Movie
Square Enix doesn’t have the greatest track record when it comes to making movies. Anyone remember the Spirits Within and their great plan to launch a movie studio? Yeah, that didn’t go over too well. Or their attempt to capitalize on the popularity of VII with the release of Advent Children? As much as I love VII that one was a big stinker too. Well it looks like the third time really is a charm and Square Enix finally created a feature film worthy of the name Final Fantasy.
Kingsglaive takes place concurrent to the opening events in Final Fantasy XV. While Noctis and his band of “bros” are traveling to meet Princess Luna for Noctis’s nuptials we are treated to a first hand account of what is transpiring in the capital of Lucis, Insomnia. I’m not sure if that is supposed to be a reference to Insomnia being a city that never sleeps or if Square Enix keeps proving that they are really weird at naming conventions.
Kingsglaive is a tale that has been told many times across fantasy. It’s been told a number of times by different Final Fantasy games. Lucis is a nation that wants peace. They are protected by a crystal and the magic it bestows upon its king. Niflheim is a empire bent on world domination. They seeks to subject Lucis and its protectorates and absorb them into the Niflheim empire. Good meet evil. There is also a third faction. Citizens in Lucis that are upset that their king would surrender to Niflheim for the promise of peace. One character asks Nyx early on, “I know what you think of war, tell me what you think of this peace?” with clear disdain in their voice.
The movie starts off by explaining how Noctis fits into the story and then jumps right into the action. During this conflict where we are introduced to the Kingsglaive and their magic bestowed by their king, primarily the warp strike. You’ll get to see this a lot throughout the movie yet it never got old. We are also teased with the appearance of a “demon” that looks suspiciously like the Ultimate Weapon from the Final Fantasy mythos.
The weapon isn’t the only iconic Final Fantasy villain that makes an appearance. About an hour in a fan favorite enemy from VI makes an appearance on an airship. The ensuing battle does not fail to delight either.
The movie keeps the pace up well enough that it never really feels long even though it has a running time of 1:50 with credits. Not surprisingly when Kingsglaive was over I felt myself wanting more. While the movie is, and does, stand on it’s own it is a supplement to VX the game and is one of the best marketing pieces I’ve seen from a developer in a long time.
Aaron Paul delivers a decent performance as Nyx Ulric. Sean Bean delivers an impressive performance as King Regis. Meanwhile Lana Heady is serviceable as Princess Luna. I would have liked to see more development with Luna. She definitely comes across as duty bound and committed to her cause but what else? She is key to the overall story of XV and I’m not sure how much we will see her in the game. I wish there was more development of her in Kingsglaive.
There was one character that stole every scene he was in. Darin De Paul as Ardyn oozed sinister and I doubt this is the last we see of him. Ardyn makes his appearance early in the film and has what appears to be a crow wing as a garment for his left arm. Ardyn screams Final Fantasy with his over the top wardrobe. Bursting with personality Ardyn comes across as intelligent, sophisticated, and a schemer. He is definitely someone pulling strings behind the scenes and I’m willing to bet he will be a late game boss in XV.
There are a few weaknesses to the film. Most noticeably is the lip sync. It’s clear that the voice doesn’t match what the characters are mouthing. This could be due to the film being created for a Japanese audience and the English only being a dub. Another interesting items is there are a handful of odd product placements. This clearly isn’t supposed to be our world yet they drive Audis, have cars that look suspiciously like Land Rovers and Rolls Royce. There are also advertisements for Beats by Dre, and Japan Airlines. Apparently the latter of those two figured out interdimensional travel.
The final 20 minutes of the movie turn into a full blown kaiju film. I won’t get into the why as to avoid spoiling the surprise but needless to say the effects are a spectacle to see. Even viewers who aren’t fans of Final Fantasy will be entertained by this film. For those that are looking forward to XV this serves as a good primer and I doubt you’ll be disappointed.