The hype for Final Fantasy XV is slowly but surely building in the video game community. And with the announcement of the game being pushed back until a November 29 release I’m starting to get a little antsy. However, the promotion for the game has been fulfilling my appetite little by little by little before the full release. This includes an anime short series showing the backstory of main protagonist Noctis and his squad of misfits and multiple playable game demos giving players a small taste of the whole experience. But certainly the most intriguing promotional piece surrounding the game is the feature length animated film Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy VX. This is a big movie getting a full theatrical release in Japan, a limited theatrical release in the US and a star studded cast for the English dub, including Sean Bean, Lena Heady and Aaron Paul. Alas, with no Irish theatrical date and no money to jet over to England for its limited run, I picked it up on Google Play and watched with bated breath!
The film opens to a whole lot of exposition, narrated by Lena Heady, explaining the premise of the game, the warring nations, the relationship between Lunafreya and Noctis, the assassination of Lunafreya’s mother and King Regis and the wall, a magical barrier around the city of Insomnia, which is where our story is set. To anyone who is completely unfamiliar with the game and is going into this movie wholly unawares, this is just a lot of information that is thrown at you at once and can be hard to digest. Now, while the movie doesn’t hold your hand when it comes to the premise, it does become clearer as the movie goes on and you just have to accept a few things as fact, like King Regis, voiced by Sean Bean, and his connection with the magical barrier. What makes this easier is that movie follows the Kingsglaive, an elite magic military task force under the command of King Regis made up refugees from outside of insomnia. This includes our lead character, Nyx Ulric, voiced by Aaron Paul, who is from the opposing nation in the over-arching war, Nifleheim.
All of this leads into a plot full of political intrigue and military action. The plot is fairly well written, if a bit convoluted at times with most of the characters having decent motivation for their actions, which I don’t really want to go into to avoid spoilers. However, this movie does sometimes suffer from having too many characters that aren’t entirely established. For example: Lunafreya’s brother, Ravus, is introduced in passing at the very beginning of the movie and then returns in the third act as if he’d been there the whole time. Plus, and I’m trying to entirely avoid spoilers here so this is going to be vague, the reveal of who one of the major villains actually is is so muddy in its delivery I wasn’t sure if it was them at all. Outside of these the plot is relatively solid, but what really makes this movie great is the action and the animation.
The animation is absolutely stunning. From start the finish it’s sleek and stylish, looking shockingly realistic in the process. Several times I glanced at a character and thought they were live-action, only to be reminded they’re not afterward. And this animation is paired with jaw-dropping fight choreography and set piece design. This film has such a grand scale in how huge things are it truly feels like how a Final Fantasy movie should look. And in Final Fantasy tradition, the final climactic fight is an epic battle of colossal scale (not quite God sized, but big nonetheless).
The voice cast, ti deserve a major shout-out. Aaron Paul is a joy to hear in the lead role nailing the serious points home while also sliding in some humour from time to time. And Lena Heady was great as Lunafreya. I was a little worried that I would only hear Cersei Lannister in a character supposed to be the embodiment of peace in this world, but Heady injects a lot of sympathy into the role and honestly half the time I was watching, I forgot she was the voice actress as I was just enjoying the character.
One more point I’d like to make is that across a two-hour runtime, the Warp Strike mechanic previewed in the game demos is used by Nyx and the other members of the Kingsglaive constantly and it doesn’t get old at all, looking cooler every time you see it. Watching it makes me absolutely giddy at the thought of getting to do it myself in game. And that’s really the purpose of the movie, to get you excited for the game and it achieves that entirely. November can’t come quick enough. Not only is it a good tie-in to the game, it also works as a standalone movie about Nyx and the Kingsglaive. So if you’re a fan of the fantasy genre or a fan of the series excited for the new game, it’s well worth your time. And hey, it sure beats the hell out of watching The Spirits Within.