Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV Movie Review
With Final Fantasy XV finally getting released this year, Square Enix has gone all out with the promotional materials for the game. Included in this is Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, a CGI movie that tells of events happening outside of the game’s immediate purview. Those eagerly awaiting anything to do with the game will likely enjoy what Kingsglaive has to offer, but those with a more curious disposition should just consider it a completely optional side show, as it is far from essential viewing.
As to be expected from Square Enix, the level of CGI on show is very impressive and, barring one or two very minor things, successfully avoids entering the uncanny valley with it. There’s some breathtaking location designs and a whole lot of nice effects when the action hits, though the actual fight sequences aren’t the most thrilling. It does get its moment of odd product placement, most evident in the form of an apparently indestructible Audi, but aside from that the cityscape of Insomnia and those other locations briefly visited come into their own nicely. Kingsglaive does an excellent job of blending modern and sci-fi aspects, like its communication earpieces and shuttle-like airships, with fantasy like the gleaming armour and swords, and makes it all work within the combat. Fans will also enjoy catching glimpses of the latest versions of the series’ classic creatures.
Unfortunately, while the film is good with the action, it’s not so good at providing an engaging plot. Kingsglaive takes place at the same time as the early parts of the game and follows Nyx Ulric, a member of the titular elite force. Formed it seems primarily of refugees from outside of the primary setting of Lucis’ shielded capital of Insomnia, the Kingsglaive is given magical powers through its connection to King. After the narrated opening about crystals and the traditional expansive empire (this one named Niflheim) followed by some early action, events move onto the main focus of a peace deal offered to Lucis by Niflheim and its clause of matrimony between Princess Lunafreya of Tenebrae and Regis’ son, the not-appearing-in-this-film Noctis, which goes about as well as expected.
Nyx is a likeable enough lead and King Regis plays a decent supporting role, but unfortunately the same cannot be said about the rest of the cast. The story seems to rely on a staggering amount of idiocy-induced betrayal or general incompetency to move along, with some unexplained mentions of destiny thrown in for good measure. Certain moments are meant provide emotion but end up devoid of any simply because no reason is given to care about the characters involved. Considering how the series’ past is full of strong female characters, the lack of any in Kingsglaive is a further disappointment. Lunafreya does little outside of acting as a moving goal for the protagonists or villains, and the limited few other female characters that do briefly appear get no opportunity to show any competence. When it stops trying to shove in too many elements for little reason, Kingsglaive works decently as an action film, but its actual story just doesn’t have any substance.
Kingsglaive gets to advertise some star appearances with Aaron Paul, Sean Paul, and Lena Headey all voicing key characters (none of whom are reprising their roles in the game). Although all the performances are of high quality, having the star-studded names doesn’t make any difference in terms of overall quality of the film. The score is handled by John R. Graham, and it works nicely within the confines of everything, ably backing up the nice visuals throughout.
From a narrative view, Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is a mess. Its characters fail to make any lasting impressions and I don’t feel like the viewer gains any benefit from witnessing its story that is not going to come from the game itself. However, from an entertainment standpoint it does a decent enough job. The film is beautiful to behold and there is some good action. Those who simply can’t wait for anything Final Fantasy XV-related at this point will get a heft amount of explosions and big monsters, but there is no need for the remainder to put it on any must-see list.