This one is for hardcore fans only, but here are a few suggestions on similar projects that may be more accessible.
The Final Fantasy franchise has been around since the 1980s. In the past 30 years, spinoffs of these popular video games have hit and largely missed. The latest is Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, which acts as a prequel to set up the acts of the upcoming latest installment in the game series proper Final Fantasy XV. This may do it for some diehard fans, but most audience members will be left bewildered, bored, booing or all three.
So… there is a story. The kingdoms of Niflheim and Lucis are at war in a universe that blends modern military, tokyo, and high fantasy. Niflheim is willing to settle on a treaty that ends the war, due to the king of Lucis (Sean Bean) becoming to old to continue fighting. It connects to the game because Princess Lunafreya Nox Fleure is set to marry Noctus, the hero of the upcoming game. Noctus is nowhere to be found, but Aaron Paul can be heard as Nyx, the hero and member of Lucis’ elite soldiers, The Kingsglaive. What follows is a lot of nonsense story, some cool action, and a complete lack of any self awareness. It’s honestly not going to do much to hear an outdated Final Fantasy fan try to weave together the references and when a film is 50% fight scenes that didn’t do much for me either way, a traditional review wouldn’t be that helpful. So I’ve comprised a list of a few projects that came to my mind while watching this, and the ways Kingsglaive has both taken influence and failed to live up to them.
[Slight spoilers for Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV follow. If you care, you are probably in the minority that should see the movie]
Attack on Titan
The opening action sequence of Kingsglaive feels like a bad Attack on Titan episode. Gigantic monsters are attacking the wall, except KIN. This great action-focused anime gives time, in a dire and emotional opening episode, to set up these characters and why you should care about the crazy bulls**t that is about to happen to them.
The coolest thing about The Kingsglaive are the magical glaives (given by the King) that allow the agile fighters who protect Lucis from the armies of Nilfheim to teleport. It looks pretty rad in the movie, but wouldn’t it be cooler if you could do that in a video game? Play Dishonored, why don’t ya? Not only is the sequel due in a matter of months, but this stealth action game truly delivers on the promise of being to play in whichever style fits your fancy. There is a sequence near the midpoint of Kingsglaive which plays like a cross between Dishonored and the Tanker act in Metal Gear Solid 2. It’s way more fun when you are in control and not watching a Final Fantasy movie, geez, remember when they talked about chocobos twice?
Lord of the Rings
Watch the movies, or fine complain and read the books, but even a decade and a half later Helms Deep is still more fun to watch than anything in Kingsglaive. Most importantly, halfway through Kingsglaive they introduce the concept of a ring of power and it becomes, like, a super-duper important thing. And I’m pretty sure they say “ring of power” at some point. It’s ridiculous.
During the aforementioned “sneaking mission” a Cthulu appears. Don’t ask how or why, for in Final Fantasy there are rarely answers. Still, there are plenty of books, games and comics based on Lovecraft’s properties that are well worth your time.
Honestly, if you liked Pacific Rim maybe give Kingsglaive a shot. The best parts of it are when two giant robots/monsters/ancient stone beings (?) are fighting each other. So, I guess Pacific Rim is that, but their tongue is pretty far up there in their cheek, and who knows where Kingsglaive’s mouth is even located.
Heady voices Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, the princess of Tenebrae, currently being held captive by the Niflheim. I will give Kingsglaive credit — the minimal amount — for trying to have a heroine that isn’t entirely defenseless and at times can be quite the badass. But she doesn’t even cut it when compared to Miyazaki’s savage Princess.
Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is in select theaters for one weekend starting August 19th.