Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV
Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV will be available digitally on streaming and download services from August 30. The stand-alone Blu-ray and DVD versions will be out on October 4; Kingslaive will also be included in the Deluxe and Ultimate Collector’s Editions of Final Fantasy XV. This review is based on a pre-release screening at Sony Pictures in London.
For a film you’ve probably never heard of, there’s a lot riding on Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV.
After the bitterly disappointing recent games, Square Enix have decided to go for broke with their latest. Not content with merely launching a multi-million dollar video game, Square Enix have opted for a three pronged Final Fantasy XV attack, releasing this large budget CG film, a six part anime series and finally, the much anticipated game itself (now due on November 29th). Square Enix are clearly betting big on their new universe, but is this a Fantasy worth caring about?
Kingsglaive is a standalone film that runs parallel with the events of the upcoming game, telling the tale of two nations who have long been engaged in a grueling and bloody war. King Regis (Sean Bean) resides over the proud, but waning kingdom of Lucis as he attempts to hold his own against the might of the Nifelheim empire. A stunning opening scene sees Lucis’ crown city, Insomnia come under a devastating attack from an impossibly huge Nifelheim force. Things look bleak but the cunning Nyx (Aaron Paul) leads The Kingsglaive – a small force of Regis’ magic enhanced soldiers – to a narrow victory. With Nifelheim unable to penetrate Insomnia’s defenses the two nations begrudgingly form a peace treaty, which predictably, doesn’t last long.
While it’s not going to win any awards, the plot is entirely serviceable throughout, setting up some great action scenes with few surprises and plenty of clichés. Kingsglaive has its fair share of problems, but thankfully the film is expertly paced: even when the dialogue grates or a scene starts to drag, you’re quickly moved on before things get too painful.
If you’ve seen the trailer you won’t be surprised to hear that Kinglaive’s biggest strength is undeniably its visuals. Right from the opening frame, it’s impossible not to be drawn into Final Fantasy XV’s jaw droppingly rendered world. Whether it’s light reflecting convincingly off a shiny white building or marble floors glistening under royal feet, Kingslaive surely raises the bar for lighting in animation.
Yet, an animated movie is nothing without great voice acting and this is where the film starts to come undone. While Kingsglaive casts’ boasts talent like Sean Bean, Aaron Paul and Game Of Thrones’ Lena Headey, unfortunately the voice acting here failed to meet our lofty expectations. There are some great performances from Headey and Paul, but a mix of bland acting and uninspiring lines make Bean’s King Regis a disappointment. Supporting characters fare even worse, with voice acting ranging from the detached to the frankly unbearable. The less said about the insufferable Libertus, the better.
Luckily the incredible technology employed in this movie helps remedy the situation. For the first time in a CG movie, faces ooze expression. The believable motion capture brings a surprising amount of physicality to performances, with subtle eye movements and wrinkles of the face really helping to bring characters to life.
Kingsglaive is a technical marvel then, but a mixed bag as a film. If you’re looking for a fun introduction to the world of Final Fantasy XV or a visual spectacle with the feel of an anime, Kingsglaive is certainly worth your gil.
For everyone else – this is no Final Fantasy: Spirits Within, there’s actually some enjoyment to be had here, but you’ll need a strong tolerance for the melodramatic.
Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is technically outstanding, but a mixed bag of a movie. However, it's way better than Spirits Within and fairly enjoyable even if you're not a fan of the Final Fantasy franchise; just be prepared for the melodrama.
- Brilliant animation
- Fantastic Action Scenes
- Cringey Voice Acting