By Samimista 22 Comments
For those who don't know, Kingsglaive was originally supposed to be Final Fantasy Versus XIII/XV's in-game prologue until the game's longtime creator and director, Tetsuya Nomura, was replaced with Hajime Tabata back in 2013.
That said, Kingsglaive was revised into a standalone film that transpires during the events of Final Fantasy XV's Chapter 0 and 1. It focuses on Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII (Sean Bean), the king of Lucis and the father of Noctis (Ray Chase).
Along with Final Fantasy XV, the central theme of Kingsglaive is the bond between father and son; and the great lengths a king will go to protect his heir. As the film's tagline is: "Everything for the future king."
The film opens up with Regis and Noctis visiting the Nox Fleuret family in Tenebrae. During their stay, Niflheim launches an attack on the kingdom in hopes to kill the Lucian royal family.
The Final Fantasy XV universe is set on Eos, a world similar to modern-day Earth, and is divided into multiple nations that once possessed magical crystals. Lucis, however, is the last remaining kingdom to have control over their crystal, which the Caelum dynasty uses to defend themselves from invaders by creating a magical barrier maintained by the king. This is explained in the first twelve minutes of the film with heavy narration from Lunafreya Nox Fleuret (Lena Headey).
The film then fast forwards to twelve years later, where King Regis commands his elite force of soldiers, the Kingsglaive, to protect Lucis from the Niflheim empire's plan to steal the kingdom's sacred crystal.
On paper, the plot may sound straightforward, however, I personally feel like it's too ambitious for its own good; too busy selling newcomers and fans alike with convoluted lore and world building to actually tell its own story. For a full length film, I feel like an hour and fifty minutes wasn't enough time to flesh out important characterization and subplots.
Kingsglaive, for instance, is compromised of immigrants from regions outside of Insomnia, who carry out their missions with pride. Even though, the elite force serves for King Regis, native Lucians are racist towards them. Throughout the film, there is an attempt to convey immigration conscription, but it falls flat. A decent amount of the film's runtime focuses on action setpieces that were fast-paced with disjointed editing.
I've been following Versus XIII/XV for well over a decade, so I was able to (mostly) understand what was going on. However, I've also read dozens of articles and watched hundreds of analysis videos throughout the years. For anyone else, Kingsglaive might appear to be a beautiful, confusing mess. And honestly, as much as I enjoyed this film, I get a headache from thinking about specific plotholes, the lack of characterization, and the poor editing.
Given my partner already recapped the plot for those who already aren't familiar, I suppose there is very little to be added. Granted, I played Final Fantasy games in the past and as each entry has to start giving an explanation about their worlds somewhere. However, from an outsider perspective, it can be rather confusing to flesh out the factions and stuff like that and its very difficult to do it in like, five minutes of an opening. Its a very difficult position I suppose, since I happen to write fiction too, and exposition is something hard to pull without boring or confusing your audience.
I think the plot is fine for FF players that want some context before walking into the game they want to play, but like if some people who never played FF before in their lives or wants to watch this movie to be convinced - a really strange choice rather than just picking up a game and playing - probably should stay clear from it, since the ending is kind of crappy.
The main protagonist is Nyx Ulric (Aaron Paul), an immigrant saved by King Regis as a teenager. Because of this, Nyx feels forever indebted to the royal family, and therefore is loyal to them. Personally, I liked Nyx but I found it annoying how the other Glaives like Libertus Ostium (Liam Mulvey) and Crowe Altius (Alexa Khan) would mock him for playing 'war hero' all the time. Yes, we get it; Nyx is the hero, but there's no need to constantly remind viewers this. Even though, Nyx is the Zack Fair of the film, I consider the character to be a fill-in for Noctis since well, Noctis was originally present during the Niflheim invasion back when it was actually in-game.
As for Libertus, I feel like the character was redeemed at the end, but I still didn't like his attitude throughout the film. Without going into spoilers, all of the Glaives, excluding Nyx and Crowe, aren't very likable. The reason why ties into what I said earlier about immigration conscription, but it's really hard to care about the minor characters.
Crowe I feel was wasted potential. Her design is easily the best in the XV universe (aside from Gentiana's) yet she had very little screentime. Judging from the film's trailers prior to release, I thought there was going to be a motorcycle chase, but there wasn't any. I personally feel like Crowe and Libertus' roles should have been reversed. It would have been more appropriate since Crowe is a take-charge kind of character with her personality.
I have a mixed opinion on Lunafreya. On one hand, I've grown to like her character due to her character design in Kingsglaive, as it looks a lot like Yoshitaka Amano's artwork of Terra Branford. Up until a month or two ago (because changes are always made with XV, I guess), Luna's in-game design was jarring. She looked like a fourteen year old Namine (Kingdom Hearts character for those who don't know) with plastic surgery gone wrong. I'm usually not one to complain about character designs, but I'm very relieved that Luna was tweaked to look more like her Kingsglaive counterpart.
But on the other hand, it's laughable how Square Enix said that Luna would shine in the film. I have no doubt that the character will be portrayed better in the actual game (I mean, we've seen her go against Leviathan, a giant sea serpent, in trailers), but I feel like it's embarrassing with her treatment in Kingsglaive. She constantly needs rescuing and causes nothing but even more trouble for the Glaives.
I understand that Luna is all about the inner strength and courage, but there's a scene where Nyx and Luna are on a highway chase, and Luna insists on driving, but Nyx doesn't allow her to do so. It just feels like no one lets her help with what's going on. The only time Luna really does 'shine' is when she manages to take things into her own hands by outwitting someone; but still, I feel like the female representation in this film is a joke.
Also, I'm really bothered how Luna's role in the XV universe isn't explained in the film. She's the youngest Oracle in history and is able to speak with gods. In the film, it's only mentioned that Luna is a Princess . . . Why wasn't this explained to the newcomers and casual fans?
That brings me to my next complaint. In the XV universe, Luna has an attendant named Gentiana. This character is nowhere to be seen or even mentioned in the film. I can understand not including her in for budget reasons (or whatever it may be), but are you telling me that the Princess/Pope somehow managed to leave her country unsupervised? And how did Luna even managed to travel all the way to Lucis without anyone noticing her?
So far, we really don't know much about Luna outside of her story role. We don't know what her hobbies are, who her friends are, and etc. She lives and breathes Noctis, and her duty about fulfilling destiny or whatever. I just think it's a shame that the film didn't give any hints on what her hobbies are, or anything like that. I mean, we already know a lot about Noctis and his bros, so what about Luna?
I'd like to think that we'll learn more about her character in-game, but well . . . I've always had a bad feeling about the character's fate -- even back when Luna was first introduced as Stella in 2008 . . . Take that as you will.
Regis hardly has any screentime. I personally feel that the film should've focused more on him and the actual peace treaty instead of Nyx and the Glaives; since y'know, the purpose is to show the bond between father and son. I do think Sean Bean was perfect casting for Regis, but, well, the casting gives away a major spoiler . . .
Then, we have Chancellor Ardyn Izunia (Darin De Paul) who serves for the Niflheim Empire. I honestly don't have much of an opinion on the character except that I'm hoping he won't be the main antagonist of the game. The reason why? I find it hard to take his character serious. Sure, his design is one of the best, but his character reminds me of Reno (Final Fantasy VII) and Axel (Kingdom Hearts). As in I can only see Ardyn as the anti-hero who eventually decides to help out Noctis and co.
Now, who I want to be the true villain of Final Fantasy XV?
Ravus Nox Fleuret (Trevor Devall) also known as the 'Hooded Man' from the Versus XIII era (and was in the 2013 XV trailer, for those who are wondering). I feel like my opinion is unpopular, but I actually like how Ravus was portrayed in Kingsglaive. He's whiny and cocky sure, but I feel like this leaves room for character development in the actual game. Him and Luna personally remind me of Milliardo and Relena Peacecraft from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.
The cast of characters was fine I suppose. Its a shame what happened to Nyx at the end though, as well as other characters that had so many potential in the game but ended up wasted.
One thing that stood out to me was the fact even though Luna wasn't necessarily the focus of the story - Nyx was - is whether or not its an omen that she won't be featured that much in the game itself.
Is it any surprise that as soon as Sean Bean was announced as Regis he ended up biting the dust at the hands of Glauca? I mean, I was expecting him to die anyways, but I hope that would have been in the game itself. Oh well..
I absolutely love the photorealistic style, and I hope it'll be used for Final Fantasy XVI. I'm one who usually prefers Eastern designs, but I feel like Square Enix nailed the realistic western faces in Kingsglaive. The in-game designs pale in comparison to the film designs, in my opinion. Especially with Lunafreya where the difference is like day and night.
Also, I love how the party scene between Noctis and Stella from Versus XIII was recreated between Nyx and Luna.
I was letdown by how the scene was executed, but sooo much nostalgia.
Dat Somnus track. Dat Yoshitaka Amano artwork. Dat Lucis aquarium.
There were a few other Versus XIII nods as well. Aside from the party scene, I really liked this one:
While I don't have any complaints about the actual visual effects, I am bothered by the editing.
The action setpieces are too fast paced and rely on too much close-ups to actually figure out what's going on. I could honestly barely see the action setpieces during the Niflheim invasion because there was hardly any lighting. The fade to black transitions throughout the film were egregious and amateur as it happened for nearly every scene.
Aside from that, there's visual homages and nods to Final Fantasy VII in the film, but it just screamed out advertisement for the upcoming remake. There wasn't any actual reason for any of them to appear in the film.
While the story may be kind of lacking, there is no denying that the visuals are phenomenal. It looks really good up close and only the animation gives it away that it isn't live-action.
So, it should be noted that Final Fantasy XV's composer, Yoko Shimomura, only did the main theme for the film. Everything else was done by John Graham. I'll be honest to say, I really didn't pay attention to the soundtrack.
The only track that really stood out to me was Lunafreya's theme.
Even before the film released, I looped and set a specific scene in a trailer on repeat where Luna and Regis have been reunited after twelve years, and the song plays for a minute in the background. I'd even go far enough to say that it's the best Final Fantasy character theme in several years.
The voice acting is superb. Lena Headay is easily recognizable, but manages to sound so much different than characters she usually plays. She should do voice acting more often in my opinion.
The music was decent enough, it was a standard fare of Hollywood action sequences that had some decent tracks. My favorite one was this:
Since I personally prefer movie soundtracks that feature ominous chanting ala One Winged Angel. Preferably in Latin and Greek.
7/10 - I enjoyed Kingsglaive for what it was; however, I feel like it could've been handled differently. It's the best Final Fantasy film yet (which really isn't saying much), but I can understand why Kingsglaive has been receiving mixed opinions.
In fact, I'm not sure if it was smart to release this in theaters. The film is clearly catered towards the fans, and I can imagine anyone else being dragged to see this would be left confused, thinking that Kingsglaive was a waste of time to watch.
Personally, I feel like the anime Brotherhood (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsVhwsUFaDE) is a better representation of the XV universe and unlike Kingsglaive, Brotherhood is coherent and actually fleshes out the characters.
So, yeah, if you decide to watch Kingsglaive, just think of it as eye porn; and you get to hear the voices of Sean Bean, Lena Headey, and Aaron Paul, who will not be reprising their roles in the actual game.
Considering Final Fantasy XV got delayed to November 29th, don't expect to read my review until mid December at earliest. I might not even start writing it until after the New Year since I would like to take my time playing due to the decade long wait, and all.
I thank you all for reading our review, and I'd like to thank Inquisitor_Lavellan for always being a pleasure to collaborate with.
Now, let's all take a moment to appreciate Nyx's fine booty.
6/10 - Pretty decent movie for an average viewer and a must see for anyone excited for FF XV.
While my friend Sam is pretty hyped for the movie, despite the many, many, many delays it isn't so much the same with me. Despite not liking it very much, I do acknowledge its a good movie for what it is and its not a crowd pleaser.