Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (Japan 2016)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 10/8/16
Cast: Aaron Paul, Lena Headey, Sean Bean

Like every other "Final Fantasy" game and movie, "Kingsglaive" is visually stunning, but overly childish and cliché. The film serves as a prequel to the "Final Fantasy XV" video game, and it's apparent that Square/Enix is seriously banking on its success. The set-up is simple: two nations are engaged in a senseless war of attrition, and the aggressors offer a peace treaty in the form of a marriage between their princess and the prince of Lucis. Of course it's just bait for a trap, and one of the king's most talented warriors finds himself trying to uncover the plot, rescue the princess, and save the entire world from annihilation.

It's a gorgeous film that's amazingly photo-realistic, and the computer animated characters are firmly entrenched in the Uncanny Valley. Unfortunately, the character design is uninteresting, and all of the main characters bear an awkward resemblance to real people. The most frustrating thing is not being able to positively identify who they remind me of, which was a constant distraction while watching the film. The voice acting is disappointingly flat and the characters are downright annoying. Similar to other "Final Fantasy" and "Resident Evil" CGI movies, the characters are ridiculous Western caricatures with dull personalities and painfully goofy mannerisms. The whole thing feels like something a twelve year old would come up with, and no attempt is made to grow the characters or make them endearing. It tries so hard to emulate a Hollywood movie that it just comes across as a parody. Adding to that, the film shamelessly plugs Audi, who apparently manufactures cars on other planets. That's about as unsettling as seeing a Mercedes-Benz logo on an Imperial Shuttle.

Thankfully, the action sequences are spectacular and help you forget about the tepid story and the uninteresting characters. However, they're also so overwhelming that you can easily get lost in what's going on, which can make you drop out of the film. The music score is excellent, and just as big and bold as the action is. More than anything, the film reminded me of a spiritual successor to "Pacific Rim" (2013) with all of its mass destruction and giant monster action. Overall, it's a high-gloss production that looks and sounds great, but fails to be emotionally or intellectually engaging.