Category Archives: CG Movie Research

Thoughts Moments from the End of FFXV

I don’t know how I wanted Final Fantasy XV to end, but everything that’s happening right now is not what I expected or wanted.

I haven’t beaten it yet. I’m stopped at the Hammerhead, right before the final fight. This would normally be the point in the game where I can’t put it down until I’m done, but I’m so unexcited to find out what happens next that that didn’t happen.

And I know, the creators ran out of time, scrapped the original story, whatever. This is just so half-baked and disappointing that I must rant.

SPOILERS AND RANTING AHEAD

Did Ravus die off-screen? Shows how important he was I guess.

I know I’m like twenty levels above what the monsters in this section of the game were balanced to fight against, but surely, the game designers could have done something else to ensure that Ardyn’s taunts are relevant. No, Ardyn. I don’t feel powerless nor do I miss my friends. I’m slaughtering literally everything in my path.

Prompto’s a… daemon? or an experiment? Maybe? Why is that even a thing? When has he or anyone wondered about his origins in the entire game? What does this have to do with anything?

Noctis’ friends, the summons, the ring, the Crystal, the weapons, it all had to come together to defeat… Ardyn. That’s right. @#$% the war with the empire. @#$% the coming darkness. @#$% the Oracle. @#$% the king of light, the true king, the chosen. @#$% all the themes in The Omen trailer. It’s all about Ardyn, a bad guy with no motivation. The complexity is just an illusion to hide how boring the story ultimately is.

Even though Noctis has a virtual warehouse of magic weapons and crap, he still has to arbitrarily trade his life to gain the power to defeat the bad guy… So basically, everything I spent the game collecting is garbage.

Let’s skip forward in time ten years to create more artificial drama. Because this game can’t focus on anything long enough to create drama naturally.

Particles in the air cause perpetual darkness. How does that explain the sun setting earlier and rising later as was happening earlier in the game?

Okay. I’m going to go watch The Omen trailer to soothe my rage.

I’ll likely post more coherent thoughts about this game later.

Advertisements

Advent Children Trivia

An image of Cloud's cell phone

I was discussing Gladiolus’ Cup Noodle quest on Final Fantasy XV with some friends recently when one of them pointed me to this wiki. Most of the article explains the product placement in FFXV, but a small section at the top discusses the Panasonic FOMA P900iV, a 2004 phone model released in Japan in conjunction with Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. This model serves as Cloud’s phone in the movie. I’ve forgotten and remembered pieces of Advent Children trivia throughout the years, but I don’t think I ever knew this. It gives a whole other layer of meaning to the scene where Cloud’s phone falls to the bottom of the lake.

For many years, this scene, featuring whimsical music underplaying a cell phone drifting to the bottom of a pool that is always as deep as the plot needs it to be, was just silly to me. I still find it funny, even after my close examination of this film over the past year revealed its purpose. This scene symbolizes Cloud losing the one thing that connected him to his friends in the first half of the movie. After this point, Cloud can only interact with them directly. In the final fight with Sephiroth, neither his lost phone nor his friends can serve as a source of comfort or safety. Knowing that his phone is modeled after a real product and that, consequently, at least the first half of the movie is a subtle advertisement for it, this scene is now also a commercial showing off the phone’s sleek design. It also demonstrates that it is not waterproof. 🙂

I’ve heard people say that Final Fantasy XV is a giant advertisement for Cup Noodles, but out of everything negative people say about Advent Children, I’ve never heard them call it an hour-and-a-half-long advertisement for a cell phone. I feel like it should be an outrage that the film is filled with product placement, but it’s not. Cloud’s Panasonic FOMA P900iV, and the prominence of phones and cell phones, in general, is product placement done right. It’s visually subtle but deeply integrated into the story. Even the scene where the film does its most blatant advertising isn’t terribly out of place. It’s visually and audibly similar to another silly scene where Cloud and Tifa pass out in a patch of flowers. While the film has a somewhat bizarre focus on cell phones, its only part of the charm of a film that is bizarre for multiple reasons. Gladio’s quest, on the other hand, just makes FFXV’s story look even stupider and the creators look desperate.

I also recently discovered the Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children – Reunion Files, an artbook with interviews from the cast and crew. I skimmed through a free copy available online and immediately purchased it. The interviews I glanced at confirmed many of the things I suspected about this movie and more. I’m not crazy! I swear.

Saberspark’s History of Pixar and DreamWorks

I have a tendency to lump all CGI children’s and family movies into one category. These videos reminded me, “Oh yeah, Pixar and Disney make consistently decent movies compared to DreamWorks, Illumination, Blue Sky, and Sony.” I think I have such a negative outlook on these movies because I forget that. O.o

Unsolicited Comment: SuperButterBuns’ Kingsglaive Reviews

In these video, SuperButterBuns reviews Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV. She discusses its poor characters, strange pacing, inconsistent themes, lack of explanation, and general nonsense. Ultimately, however, she gives the film a 7/10 for its pretty graphics, fun action, and relation to Final Fantasy XV.

While I agree with (her love of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and) the 75% of her reviews in which she discusses Kingsglaive’s many problems, I’m not sure how she arrived at her conclusion. One of her favorite scenes is Regis’ tense conversation with Niflheim’s ambassador right before the Crystal is stolen, which I agree is the best scene in the movie but don’t think excuses it from everything else it does wrong. She claims that Noctis and the gang tied up the movie by introducing the game post-credits. She also appears to take it on faith that the game will explain the elements of the movie that the movie didn’t, which makes it a good film for fans. Basically, it got her excited for the game and provides empty action and visual entertainment. Therefore, it’s a good movie…?

It’s interesting what fans who’ve followed Final Fantasy XV since the Versus XIII days bring to this movie. From ButterBuns’ perspective, Luna and Regis were automatically cool characters from how they were portrayed in the game’s promotional materials. She admits that Luna mostly just looks like an idiot in the movie but continues to believe that she is a cool character. Buns has an affection for Regis’ character and found scenes with him the most interesting. This I find shocking because, to me, all I see in Regis in the movie is a heartless, selfish king of a kingdom no better than Niflheim’s.

ButterBuns also had an interesting interpretation of the scene where Luna jumps out of the airship. To Buns, “Not all miracles are made by magic,” was a major theme in the movie. Luna jumping out of the airship could have illustrated this theme if only Nyx hadn’t “rescued” her with magic. Luna’s confidence in her ability to reach the ledge would have demonstrated that magic isn’t everything. What I focused on in this scene was Luna saying, “I do not fear death,” and then throwing herself out of an airship, which contradicts her supposed importance to the Noctis and the future. While the theme ButterBuns perceived would make this movie interesting, she herself admits that it isn’t shown very well in general. If it were, then Nyx wouldn’t have used magic at the end of the movie. Instead, he only spends a brief time in the middle of it without magic. Then, miracles are made by fancy cars. 🙂

There are a few other minor points I disagree with. I also went to college for film and animation, but I completely disagree with Buns’ assessment that this film, in general, is well edited. The realistic graphics don’t make up for the poor cinematography or hyperactive video editing in my opinion. And Kingsglaive is a giant step backwards in terms of storytelling from both Advent Children and The Spirits Within.

Overall though, SuperButterBuns is entertaining and makes a lot of good or at least interesting points about what makes this movie good and bad. I DEMAND AN ADVENT CHILDREN REVIEW!

Unsolicited Comment: Antz – AniMat’s Classic Reviews

Another AniMat video response? I found some of his theories interesting and wanted to comment on them. So sue me!

In this video, AniMat reviews Antz. Having spent some time with Antz’s story and themes for The Philosophy of Antz video, I found it strange that AniMat proclaimed its story as barely present. He describes Z’s life as a worker ant who falls in love with a princess as a separate story from Z’s desire to leave his colony and travel to Insectopia. These sound less like separate stories and more like Act 1 and Act 2 of the movie. Act 1 introduces Z, the colony, and his feelings of not belonging. Z falls in love with Bala because it appears to him that she’s rebelling against her position in society, too. In Act 2, Z rejects the colony’s collectivist ideas and travels to Insectopia where he and Bala can be their own ants. The overall story is about Z finding his place in a society of overwhelming conformity. The film ends with Z proving the value of individualism in society. He finds his place here, in between the militaristic conformity of the colony at the beginning of the film and the complete independence and solitude in Insectopia.

AniMat also criticizes the characters for being avatars for the actors who portray them. This isn’t so much a criticism as it is pointing out that the actors were cast into roles that they are good at playing. People who don’t know the actors certainly wouldn’t think better or worse of the film because of them. I can’t see Daniel Radcliffe as anyone but Harry Potter, but I’m not about to criticize Horns for that. Similarly, Sean Bean and Lena Headey make Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV reminiscent of Game of Thrones, but I’d sooner criticize the movie for having morally reprehensible characters. Someone who’s very familiar with Woody Allen or the other actors in Antz might have trouble seeing past them, but that isn’t a mark against the script, the characters, or even the film. For someone like me, who recognizes only the actors’ names for the most part, I only hear the characters in Antz, and I thought they all worked well in carrying the film’s story.

Unsolicited Comment: Why Do People Think Animation is for Kids?

In another video from AniMat, he poses a theory about why people have misconceptions that animation is just for kids. He claims that everyone has a desire to be independent. Because the majority of animated films target children and families to maximize their profits, adults want to distance themselves from them to reinforce the image of their independence. It’s like virtue signaling except you’re showing people you’re an adult.

He claims that CGI films target kids and families to make up for the cost of making these expensive films. I’d actually never thought of this explanation for why we don’t see more adult-oriented CGI movies. It seems obvious, but thinking about it more, I’m not sure how true this claim is, at least for CGI-animated films. Just looking up some random movies (e.g. Madagascar, Star Wars: Rogue One, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Matrix, Frozen, Inside Out, Despicable Me, The Polar Express, Gravity), the cost of making 3D-animated films seems about the same as it is for making films that are mostly live action. Smaller studio animated films are in the $30-$75,000,000 range. Pixar, Disney, Robert Zemeckis, and Square Enix films are in the $100-$200,000,000 range. The Matrix is in the high eight-digit range. Marvel movies are in the $100-$200,000,000 range…

I suppose you could argue that you can buy a camera, get volunteers together, and make a decent live-action film for next to nothing, but it’d be much more difficult to create a high-quality CGI-animated film in the same way. Live-action films that don’t use CGI can also be much less expensive (e.g. The Fault in Our Stars – $12,000,000, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind – $20,000,000). This doesn’t explain how today’s most popular, nine-figure-budget, live-action films are comedies, dramas, or action films and target everyone from children to specifically adults when mid-eight-figure-budget animated films have been almost exclusively children’s/family comedies from the start.

The common story, as depicted in documentaries like Life After Pi and horror stories from former Sausage Party animators, is that animators are grossly underpaid, so these numbers probably don’t reflect the actual time and effort people spend to make these films. The point is, however, that I don’t think the case can be made so easily that animated movies aren’t as diverse in content as live-action movies because they’re expensive to make. They probably should be expensive, but they’re not.

I’m not sold on the idea that adult signaling is the reason animated films are perceived as children’s entertainment either. With the popularity of cartoons like modern My Little Pony, Steven Universe, and Gravity Falls; adult-oriented comedies like Family Guy, The Simpsons, and almost everything on Adult Swim; and movies like Despicable Me, the idea that cartoons are only for children seems like an outdated one. People in their 20s-30s and older willingly discuss their love of these films. I’ve certainly heard people express outrage at discovering, say, the R-rated Starship Troopers: Invasion movie is a CGI animated “children’s” cartoon, but acceptance of adults watching animated films seems more common.

I think there is a stigma around children’s/family CGI animation though. As much as I love CGI, I have no interest in watching most of them specifically because they look like generic children’s/family films. Though I enjoy them for their rarity, experimentation, and occasional ridiculousness, most adult-oriented CGI films have badly told or outright terrible stories. CGI is such a young medium that filmmakers still don’t seem to know what it’s for and how to use it. You’d think taking filmmaking techniques from 2D animation and live-action films and applying them to CGI would translate easily, but they don’t. The result has been many terrible and generic films and failed experiments and perhaps even this false perception that, in general, CGI movies are mindless films that only a child or an idiot could enjoy.

Then again, when I was little, I preferred A Bug’s Life to Antz. Now, as an adult, I prefer Antz (a film I suspect would be rated PG-13 if it were released today) to A Bug’s Life. So maybe something about the content of these films just tends to appeal to children more than adults.