Category Archives: Kingsglaive Final Fantasy XV

Kingsglaive vs Advent Children: Where Nonsense Originates

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Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children get compared a lot. They both contain extravagant action scenes, were created by Square Enix, and are based on games in the Final Fantasy franchise. Both also receive criticism for having convoluted and confusing plots. But how justified is this comparison? In a previous video, I talked about how Kingsglaive’s visuals contradict its audio and its general visual chaos. Is that all that makes its story incoherent? Does Advent Children have the same problem with visual communication? Let’s compare three aspects of their stories to find out.

Both films feature protagonists with inner conflicts that they must confront. Nyx in Kingsglaive deals with the deaths of his mother and sister and his status as an immigrant… supposedly. The film shows the source of Nyx’s torment through a poster board in his room, which has photos of his family and characters likely drawn by his sister. Nyx also watches a cartoon on TV that features the same characters. Nyx, however, looks at these things with indifference… or maybe rage. Is he tormented, or is he just eating something? Stop changing the camera angle every two seconds! He seems to have a fear that his past will lead to his death. Maybe? What prompted him to think this thought? He’s just sitting on the steps, and then, some guy falls out of the sky and vomits. Nyx hears his sister’s voice throughout the film, but these memories only cause mild inconveniences. Similarly, guards only occasionally taunt his immigration status. The rest of the time he just plows through them. [“Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey! Wait a minute! Stop!”] Despite the suggestion that he must overcome these problems, we don’t ever know why they’re problematic… except when he decides Princess Luna needs to know about his sister mid-chase scene.

In contrast, Cloud’s inner torment in Advent Children is clearly a problem that he must solve if he expects to survive the film. Cloud deals with the deaths of his friends Zack and Aerith and his affliction with an incurable disease called geostigma. He experiences intrusive visions from his past at inopportune times. He pushes his surviving friends away out of guilt even though friendship gives him the strength to fight. He feels pain and bleeds blue ink from geostigma. Cloud’s battle against his inner demons makes it difficult for him to fight the enemies resurrected from his past in reality. His inner problems integrate so well with his external struggles that battling his enemies and reuniting with his friends is synonymous with letting go of his past and finding his place in the present.

Kingsglaive and Advent Children also have bad guys that must obtain something important to fulfill their evil plans. In Kingsglaive, the empire Niflheim wants to steal the kingdom of Lucis’ Crystal, which it uses to defend its capital city Insomnia with a magical wall; obtain a magical ring from Lucis’ King Regis; kill and/or kidnap Lucis’ ally Princess Luna; and/or kill King Regis. If that previous semblance of a sentence didn’t clue you in, Kingsglaive doesn’t explain why Niflheim or Lucis care about any of these goals. Let’s look specifically at the Crystal, which at first glance appears to be the most powerful object in the movie. The Crystal is so important in fact that it’s the first thing that we see in the film.

Unfortunately, the scenes during which Niflheim steals it are so chaotic that they render its importance questionable at best. During a distraction peace treaty, Niflheim’s troops enter a smoky room outside the Crystal’s hold. [“The Crystal! They’re after the Crystal!”] The troops break into a room with a control board and a vault door leading to the Crystal. They blow up the control panel, which causes Insomnia’s wall to fall. [“The wall, it’s gone.”] Later, Niflheim’s chancellor and emperor watch one of their ships carry the Crystal away. It sounds straight forward… until you mix it with King Regis’ battle against robots and a menacing suit of armor and Nyx’s fight with traitorous teammates and a giant octopus. Additionally, the Crystal doesn’t look like a crystal, and this movie doesn’t like to hold any of its shaky and poorly chosen shots for more than two seconds. There’s a reason why the characters narrate this entire heist. “They broke into a room with a… panel? Where’s the Crystal?” “What is this black thing covered in smoke?” [“The Crystal!”] “Oh, you mean this window divider is the Crystal?”

The aftermath doesn’t stress the importance of this event either. No one cares. Nyx and Luna point out that the wall has fallen before they return to killing traitors. The ambassador and the emperor of Niflheim talk about what happens next. “The Crystal…! Well, let’s go see if King Regis is still alive.” With the editing and cinematography, stealing the Crystal has as much weight as saving Luna from octopods and King Regis fighting for his life. In the end, do any of them matter? The Crystal’s gone. Regis dies. Luna throws herself out of an airship and yet is entrusted with a magic ring that no one can wear.

Advent Children’s antagonist Kadaj wishes to find the remnants of Jenova, an alien being that caused a catastrophe long ago. When Kadaj discovers the alien matter hidden in plain view, the film highlights its importance by making an event out of it. The possessor, Rufus, and Kadaj attract the attention of almost every major member of the cast when Rufus tosses Jenova’s remains off a building, and he and Kadaj jump after them in slow motion. Kadaj tries to grab the box out of the air while Rufus shoots at it. This scene occurs between two fight scenes, but they all feel very different, which makes it stand out. This scene features a desperate few seconds dragged out into almost a minute. The previous scene shows Cloud rediscovering friendship power, and the next has a high-speed motorcycle battle. While we don’t know until the end of the movie what Kadaj will do with Jenova, the dramatic visuals in this scene foreshadow the importance of him obtaining it.

Finally, the protagonists in both films must follow the clues to reach their goals and solve problems. Nyx tends to just know things for no reason. [“Your hairpin. They’re tracking it. Give it to me.”] [“Pelna, get out of there! It’s a trap!”] At one point, Nyx discovers a pattern on an enemy monster and somehow makes the connection that it’s attracted to a hairpin that Luna wears despite neither of them bearing any resemblance to one another. Similarly, he somehow determines that a trap octopus monster is onboard an airship in response to his teammate observing enemy guards. These are relatively minor problems in comparison to Nyx’s unexplained faith that a suicidal woman, a ring that kills everyone who wears it, and an absent prince have more importance to the future that he wants to save than an entire city of people who might have lived in it.

In contrast, the characters in Advent Children know surprisingly little about anything. [“So what’s going to happen now?”] [“Where’s Mother?”] [“Kadaj, what is he?”] [“Who’s that?”] [“What’s this stuff about Mother?”] [“What do you mean?”] Cloud seems clueless as to how Kadaj will reincarnate Sephiroth right up until Kadaj shoves Jenova cells in his chest. He doesn’t know the cure for geostigma until he’s cured. He doesn’t even seem know what happens at the end of the movie. [“It’s like she said: ‘Wait here and Cloud will come back.'” …] The film provides visual clues for the audience to interpret what happened, but the characters don’t usually do this themselves, at least not audibly.

This final point sums up what Advent Children and Kingsglaive do that makes their stories confusing to follow. They depict two visual storytelling extremes. Advent Children shows all its clues but rarely interprets what they mean audibly while Kingsglaive states what difficult to decipher and non-existent visual clues mean even when that interpretation doesn’t make sense. I’ll let you decide if a blank stare is a preferable explanation to: [“Your hairpin. They’re tracking it. Give it to me.”]

So how do their fight scenes compare? That’s a subject for another video. Talk at you next time.

[“A man’s past is his pride.” “No, my pride is shaping the future.”]

Speech Therapy: Great Graphics doesn’t mean Great Visuals

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Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is a photorealistic, technological marvel… that critics have also described as a chaotic series of beautiful images. Despite its technological achievements, Kingsglaive fails to do what film theorists say all movies should aspire to do: to tell its story through visuals.

Visual language, as used by visual art mediums like photography, painting, and drawing, communicates ideas through pictures. Because they’re composed of a series of images, movies are also a visual medium. Films use elements like shot composition, lighting, costuming, video editing, and positioning of props and actors to tell a visual story and convey ideas and tones. While films can also use verbal, written, and musical communication to convey meaning, film theorists claim that as a visual medium, movies should tell their stories visually.

We don’t need to go far to see Kingsglaive’s terrible use visual language. Let’s take a look at the first fight scene, which serves as a good preview for the rest of the movie, to see why great graphics don’t necessarily make great visuals.

The first fight scene in Kingsglaive features an epic battle that doesn’t have an ending or a clear victor, which is kind of important considering that the characters spend the next fifteen minutes of the movie lamenting the terrible loss. In this battle, Assassin’s Creed fights Starship Troopers… I mean the kingdom of Lucis defends a wall from the empire Niflheim’s army. As the first battle in the movie, it introduces elements that we’ll see for the rest of the film like sword teleportation, magical shields, monsters, daemons, Lucis’ Kingsglaive, and Niflheim’s army. It also just shows random stuff that never comes up again. Invisibility! Surprise! A group of mages summon a fire tornado that not only never comes up again but also prominently kills their own troops. Niflheim deposits a daemon into the field that also prominently kills their own troops. Who’s fighting who again? Oh yeah. The daemon puts out the fire tornado by standing on it or something, and the Kingsglaive’s captain orders a retreat because they can’t defeat a mighty daemon. The daemon then fires missiles over the wall and causes an overhanging rock to collapse and destroy the bridge joining the two armies. A couple monsters make it to the Kingsglaive’s side though. The protagonist Nyx decides to save his friend Libertus, who got caught under a falling rock, even though everyone tells him not to. Feel free to kill your allies, but don’t save them. I’m totally on this kingdom’s team. Screw people.

Then, a really dumb series of shots happens that fails to show a bug monster tossing the rock off Libertus and Nyx saving him. No, no. Let’s stop here and appreciate how dumb these shots are. The bug monster runs past Nyx, and Nyx throws his sword. In the next shot, that’s not Nyx. That’s Libertus. Don’t let the juxtaposition trick you. The bug monster launches the rock and Libertus into the air, but the only way to actually see that is by watching it frame-by-frame. The next shot gives us less than half a second, to register that Nyx has finally arrived at the scene in a mess of sparks at the same time Libertus lands on the ground. No, Libertus isn’t the one who teleported and still isn’t Nyx. A new shot just shows Nyx rolling underneath the bug and cutting its legs off because that last shot wasn’t pointless enough. Then, in the next shot, that’s Libertus. Apparently, Nyx teleported to nowhere because he’s covered in sparks again. He throws his sword out from underneath the bug, which mandates another cut. Finally, he electrocutes the bug, but we need to see this from another angle. You know, this might have looked cool if it weren’t separated into seven shots. Maybe, we’d be able to see what was happening… No, that’s stupid.

The monsters fall into the abyss as the bridge continues to collapse, and Nyx and Libertus teleport to safety. Just when they think the battle’s over though, the daemon appears out of a dark cloud of smoke and then…! The scene ends… What the f—

Movies have a beginning, middle, and end, but each scene should also have a beginning, middle, and end. This applies to action scenes as well, which are by definition scenes. This isn’t an ending. If Niflheim can’t control their own monster and the Kingsglaive claim they can’t defeat it, then how do all the main characters in this scene live to the next one unscathed and unconcerned? Apparently, the daemon wasn’t a problem, but alas, they continue bitching about it.

The following scene pretends to end the previous one with a series of black fades as if to suggest that something tragic occurred. It is tragic. The movie shows it’s tragic because a lot of people died, mostly because both sides summoned catastrophes beyond their control. The movie claims it’s tragic in the following scenes where the king of Lucis determines that this battle was such a horrendous loss that he has no choice but to surrender to Niflheim. None of the main characters lament in this scene though. They talk about how Nyx committed an act of insubordination by saving Libertus. Simultaneously, something tragic occurred, and all anyone cares about is that one more person should have died. Movie, is it tragic or isn’t it? Tell me how I should feel and why!

Part of the reason for this confusion stems from the audio contradicting the visuals. The visuals show two armies fighting one another, uncontrollable power, and numerous deaths on both sides. The battle ends because the bridge joining the armies falls. A soldier chooses to save his friend from some straggling monsters and succeeds, but then a daemon emerges from the smoke. The following scene shows the tragic aftermath of a difficult battle. Nyx comforts Libertus, and the captain comforts Nyx. The audio tells a different story that the visuals fail to show. [“All units move to secure the wall. If they break through, we’re done.”] [“The East wall’s going down.”] [“We can’t take down that daemon. I’m ordering a full retreat.”] [“Nyx, we have orders.” “Help!” “Nyx!”] [“You disobeyed a direct order to retreat.”] [“Yes, your majesty, despite their victory all but assured…” “A sudden and inexplicable retreat.”] “Niflheim could have retreated because the bridge collapsed, and it lost a lot of its troops.” “No, it’s a complete mystery! We have no idea why any of this is happening!” A terrible loss for Lucis looks like this. They must have high standards. Seriously, does the audio and video belong to the same movie?

This first scene encapsulates the entire film: visual chaos and contradicting explanatory audio without an ending. During a fight with a giant octopus, a tentacle smacks Nyx’s friend Luche out of existence. In a series of 16 cuts over 18 seconds, Nyx breaks a bug-robot monster with his bare hands, it smokes, another monster attacks it, and they both just stop moving. It takes three camera angles just to show Luche turning around. After Libertus joins a rebellion to protest Lucis’ actions, a radio broadcast names him a perpetrator of an unidentified crime. The only thing the rebellion does in the entire movie is get shot in the streets. [“This is what 100 years of peace looks like.”] A runway? The movie ends with heroic music despite the protagonist’s death, the leveling of a city, and the deaths of probably hundreds of thousands of people. Yay! We saved the future I guess…! And a couple assholes who don’t seem to care about all the people who died in the process. Why is this woman important to the future again?

Kingsglaive contains detailed, beautiful, and photorealistic graphics, but they often don’t match the story the movie tries to tell audibly and occasionally lapse into complete incoherence. That’s truly the definition of meaningless eye candy. Talk at you next time.

[“We must part ways here.” “What?” “I can hardly travel in secrecy alongside so great a hero.”]

Why do action scenes suck?

Kingsglaive’s lack of conflict won as the subject of my latest Extra Life article, but a close runner up was its un-Final Fantasy-like visuals/art style and atrocious visual storytelling. Its fight scenes in particular are visually confusing and even contradictory to the audio and story. I know I’m just throwing out empty claims with no evidence here, but that’s because I’d still really like to write or vlog about it someday. At that time, I’ll back it up! In the meantime, I think this video on action scenes in general sums up at least part of the reason why Kingsglaive’s fights confuse, obscure, and bore. The same could probably be said for a lot of CGI, action movies actually.

Kingsglaive: The Void Noctis Left Behind Extra Life Article

Wait! I’m not done talking about Final Fantasy XV and Extra Life yet! Did you know there’s a massive Prince Noctis-shaped hole in Kingsglaive’s story? In my latest article, I talk about how Kingsglaive’s apparent pointlessness results from Noctis’ absence. It even includes argument-supportive fan fiction. O.o

For those of you who don’t know, Extra Life is like a marathon for charity, but instead of running or walking, you play video games to raise money for a children’s hospital of your choice. The official Extra Life event occurred on November 5, but you can raise money whenever you want year round. Check out the Extra Life website to learn more, donate, and sign up!

Culture Shock: FFXV the Game vs. the Movie

Noctis in the FFXV Omen short film compared to Regis in Kingsglaive.

I spent part of today trying to determine why the movie Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV looks different from the cutscenes (released thus far) in Final Fantasy XV the game. For a while, I was convinced that the art styles must be different. FFXV is more stylized and anime-influenced both in how it looks and how the characters act and move. Spiky hair and dramatic acting is in! On the other hand, Kingsglaive is as realistic as possible. Art style still might be part of it, but the main reason I think they look different blew my mind a little when I realized it.

Kingsglaive is dominated by a mostly caucasian population, which includes King Regis. The game is dominated by characters of Japanese or Asian descent, including Regis’ son Noctis. Some of the characters who appear in both have a slightly different eye shape in the game to make them appear more Asian (like the Chancellor or Regis) or different character designs between both mediums (like Luna). This is probably why Regis and Noctis could not be seen together in the movie (because who would believe they’re related?).

…Changing dominant cultures between entries in the same franchise… That’s such a weird thing to do! Why would you do that!? O.O

The Creators of FFXV’s Omen Trailer

The Final Fantasy XV Omen Trailer I discovered on Tuesday has me a bit obsessed, and I felt compelled to research who made it today. It appears that DIGIC Pictures, a Hungarian visual effects studio that specializes in video game cinematics, created it. DIGIC is also one of the studios that collaborated on Kingsglaive with their primary contribution being the first fight scene. Several outlets (such as the Final Fantasy XV YouTube channel) have been referring to this “trailer” as a “short film,” which I think fits well.

It’s difficult to say how much of this film’s concept was developed by DIGIC and how much by Square Enix. Several clues suggest that Omen is some sort of pet project that DIGIC Pictures came up with internally and got okayed to do by Square Enix (because who would say no to that?). First, according to the description of the film on DIGIC’s website, it’s a conceptual trailer created by DIGIC Pictures and “inspired by the world and story of Final Fantasy XV.” Overall, the description lovingly conveys the messages and themes portrayed in the trailer. In stark contrast, the descriptions of all of DIGIC’s other trailers and cutscenes that they’ve put together for various game studios are scant or non-existent (believe me, I checked). These games include Assassin’s Creed, Uncharted 4, Mass Effect 3, Halo 4, and Dragon Age 2, not unloved unknowns. Second, in the credits for the Omen trailer (see the end of the YouTube video above), DIGIC lists Daniel Hamvas, a Hungarian actor, translator, and screenplay writer, as a “Scriptwriter” as if the dialog and/or story in the trailer were created internally. I haven’t checked the credits on every DIGIC’s video (I’ve checked a lot O.O), but I haven’t seen someone in this role listed anywhere else.

It’s just as possible, however, that I’m over-reading this, and the concept genuinely came about through a collaboration between the studios as I assume all of DIGIC’s projects do. A lot of my argument might be based on the idea that Omen is partial or complete fanfiction allowed to exist for the sake of hyping up the game. I could be wrong though. The themes of light vs. darkness and the corrupting power of violence conveyed in Omen could very well be themes that will be explored in the game. Who knows? Perhaps killing Luna is a possible ending.

I haven’t read too much into the fan theories on what FFXV is about. Honestly, I really don’t care if Omen has nothing to do with the game and was created to GET HYPE. It’s an amazing short film. It leaves you intrigued and wanting more, but it’s a complete and delightfully complicated story told almost entirely in visuals in less than five minutes. That’s a hell of a lot more than any CGI action movie out there does in 1 1/2 to 2 hours. For me, Omen is more than a trailer. It’s a shame to discount it as only that or as only hype or as only an excuse for Noctis to rip his shirt off for fangirls. If FFXV turns out to be a giant disappointment, it would be a shame to blame this.

To everyone who made Omen, you’re awesome. You need to be told this. Omen has the greatest full-CGI, action-oriented story that I’ve seen in a long time.