Sunday, December 11, 2016

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV

3.5/4

Starring (voices): Aaron Paul, Lena Headey, Sean Bean, Liam Mulvey, Adrian Bouchet, Alexa Kahn, Darin De Paul, David Gant

Rated PG-13 for Fantasy Violence and Action Throughout

Anyone well versed in video games knows that "Final Fantasy 15" was one of the most anticipated games in recent memory.  Ten years development is a long time to wait, and so far it's been a little disappointing, although I've heard that it gets better the more you get into it.  Still, this isn't a review of the game, but "Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV," which set's up the game's story.  Not to put too fine a point on it, it's a lot of fun, and well worth watching even if you have no interest in playing the game.

The rival kingdoms of Lucius and Nifelheim have been locked in a bitter war for years.  The mechanically inclined Nifelheim seeks to control all of the magic-disposed Lucius.  But after a particularly bloody battle, an emissary from Nifelheim arrives at the steps of Luicus's king, Regis (Bean).  The emissary, a weird man named Adryn Izunia (De Paul), offers a truce: Lucius will retain control of its capital, Insomnia, while all the other cities will fall under Nifelheim's control.  And Regis's son, Prince Noctis, has to marry Princess Lunafreya (Headey), who has been held captive by Nifelheim.  It's a painful compromise, but the aging Regis doesn't have the strength to keep up the fighting and thus reluctantly agrees.  But not everyone is happy with the treaty, particularly members of the Kingsglaive, Lucius's army created to fend off Nifelheim aggression.  What no one knows is that the treaty is a trap set by Nifelheim's emperor, Iedolas Aldercapt (Gant).  When it's sprung, the resulting devastation is catastrophic.  Only a disgraced member of the Kingsglaive, Nyx Ulric (Paul), can ensure even a small measure of hope for Luna, Regis, Noctis, and Insomnia.

The plot is pure space opera.  Or fantasy opera, in this case.  It's about all those grand emotions that make stories such as these so great.  Ambition, power, betrayal, violence and tragedy.  It's not quite Shakespeare, but for a video game tie-in, it's a lot better than it has a right to be.

The voice acting is impressive.  Aaron Paul pulls off the rugged hero with ease, making us forget that he looks nothing like his character.  Lena Headey isn't quite as successful, but if she's in the movie, I don't need much more than that.  And Sean Bean is Sean Bean.  He's as reliable as an old hat.  The supporting cast isn't as strong, but they do their jobs okay.

The film's primary selling point, other than it setting up the game, is its visuals.  This is one gorgeous looking movie.  The CGI is sensational; richly detailed and vividly imagined.  Even if the movie were lousy, the film's look is strong enough to make it worth seeing anyway.  The audio and visual don't always match up, but it's only noticeable if you're really looking for it.  It's a shame that more movies don't go this route.  Not all animated movies have to be cute and cuddly.

This isn't a great movie (I can tell you right now that it won't end up on my Top 10 list at the end of the year) and there are times when the story doesn't make a lot of sense, but when you find yourself checking the clock and praying that there's more to go, that's at least a 3.5/4 in my book.

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