Review: Final Fantasy XV Kingsglaive

Blah blah blah, not afraid to die

Kingsglaive title card

Hey Moar Powah readers! The Inverseman back again after a bit back from watching “Final Fantasy XV: Kingsglaive”. How was this prequel to the mythical game more than a decade “in production”? Let’s find out!

The film chronicles the tale of Nyx, a foot soldier in the Kingdom of Lucis’ Kingsglaive, a special division of soldiers who are capable of tapping into their monarch King Regis’ magic. As the events of the game unfold within the world, “Kingsglaive” is the “meanwhile”of what is happening to Lucis while you are on your journey.

ffxv Nyx Ulric

As expected of anything Square-Enix, this film is beautiful. At times, you almost think you’re not watching a CGI film but a movie where everyone is beautiful and oddly fashionable. The soundtrack also fantastic, even as it plays that main theme we’ve been hearing for over a decade, it still hasn’t lost its luster, and that’s where the full marks end and things proceed to fall apart.On one hand, the world building is as high quality as expected of Square. Seeing essentially grunts you normally mow down in-game use the same Warp Strike Noctis uses in the actual game helps maintain that suspension of disbelief that usually crumbles in RPGs when you’re some teenager with a giant WMD sword and the elite soldiers still look like they have starting gear.

ffxv Crowe

Small details in the walled city of Insomnia are packed with FF flair into a modern city. Chocobo mascot delivery services, magic fueled architecture, and fantasy motifs blended into daily life. This isn’t New York, Tokyo, or Rome, this is a city of magic and yet while the details are filled in, there are gaps in the big picture. It’s hard to see why the Niflheim wants to take over the kingdom outside of knowing they’re the bad guys, or what the refugee status really looks like for Nyx and his cohort other than the vague notion that it’s not an easy life. These are gaps that certainly will make sense if we actually had FFXV in our hands, and leads to the first real issue; we need the game.

ffxv Glauca

Since it’s a prequel, or 90 minute advert if you’re a cynic, that tries to run concurrently with the main quest, “Kingsglaive” is forced to contort itself in strange shapes to make room for this fall’s game to fill up. Many questions about the world or the greater motivations of the characters will go unanswered since it’ll be your job playing as Noctis to find the answers. Certain villains will go unpunished or dilemmas will go unsolved because it’ll be your job to defeat them in game. At the same time though, the film needs to crash course you on the world without spoiling the mystery and tell a good story about Nyx too.

ffxv King Regis

It’s really trying to do far too many things of too great a size with too little time and resources. You never really get to be emotionally invested in Nyx, his team, or any of the game’s characters because events are progressing at a breakneck pace. Why should I care about King Regis and what makes him so noble? What reason should I be convinced in Nyx’s faith in the kingdom? What’s the deal with the refugees that make up the glaive that I should be sympathetic towards them? There’s no time to bother with answering those questions or their motives. Just action.

ffxv Kingsglaive lineup

Then there are the massive plotholes that even more time would unlikely have solved that I won’t spoil. Why is this character here other than to ratchet up the stakes of a suspenseful scene? Why did “this” happen to this character other than to increase drama? What reason do those guys have to do “that” suddenly out of the blue without any context or rationale? You won’t find out. And is paid vacation for the Lucis military as generous as it seems?

ffxv Glaive retreats

With so many loose plot threads, two sentence backstories, and downright irrational decisions made with such loose context, you have no idea why anything is happening other than, “it needs to” to set up the next big action sequence or political bargain. When the action escalates too quickly into its climax, all you can really do is stop mentally yelling “why” at the screen, futilely accept a certain predictable story beat, and just enjoy the gravity-defying fight scenes. The only saving grace of the film’s mess of a story is that I’m glad at the end of the day, while ultimately inconsequential to Noctis’ story, Nyx gets his own day in the sun. He may be a forgettable redshirt with confusing motives and is barely relatable, but he does get to be something at the end of the day. So… Hey! Good for you, Nyx!

ffxv fighting cerberus

If the story had a lot more focus, “Kingsglaive” may have been pretty good. Those first 12 minutes you can see online picture a sorta 3-4 Heroes of Light that I thought might have been the original intention for Nyx, Libertus, and Crowe. A small-scale story about the foot soldiers of Lucis, taking you through their lives so that when you play the game you feel as if your decisions and Noctis’ decisions catalyzed the events of the movie. Or ditch the glaive altogether and put us more into the mind of Noctis’ father and see his personal struggle to keep the kingdom safe while his son, pretty much you, fulfills his destiny. You can get an idea of what’s at stake as you carry out your quest.  There are a multitude of full-measures you can take to make do with 90 minutes, but the film is a multitude of half-measures instead.

ffxv Luna

 

At the very least all this is better than the mess that was “The Spirits Within” and the fanservice cheesecake that was “Advent Children”. “Kingsglaive” feels like a summer blockbuster action movie; the characters’ or the story’s deeper machinations are threadbare, but the spectacle is top notch so it asks you to turn your intelligence off. Beautifully animated and composed with admirable acting (though some of the cast sounds like it’s their first time in a booth), this is a popcorn flick. In the grand scheme of things, I’m putting “Kingsglaive” a notch above your Michael Bay explosion-fest. It tries to tell a story, attempts to avoid the usual juvenile idiocies of one, and gets just an extra 1% out of 100% for personal brand loyalty. Final grade for “Final Fantasy XV: Kingsglaive” is 61% or 3 stars. I hope when the game finally is stopped being delayed it does a better job than this, but if you want a summer blockbuster and like Square, this could scratch both itches. Join me next time when I am the bone of my sword.

Pros

– Beautiful animation

– Well scored

– Decent acting

Cons

– Numerous plotholes

– Little reason to become invested

– Tries to attempt too much and expects you to play the game to get any closure

Rating: 3.0/5

rating30

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Inverseman

The Inverseman is an evil overlord from an alternate dimension representing humanity's anti-existence who wound up becoming a modest civil servant.

Inverseman

The Inverseman is an evil overlord from an alternate dimension representing humanity's anti-existence who wound up becoming a modest civil servant.

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