Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (2016) Review
Director(s): Takeshi Nozue
Writer(s): Takashi Hasegawa, Saori Itamuro, Kazushige Nojima
Cast: Aaron Paul, Sean Bean, Lena Headey
Plot: As part of the Kingsglaive, a special forces unit tasked with protecting the kingdom of Lucis from the invasive Niflheim empire, Nyx Ulric (Aaron Paul) finds his comrades and himself thrust into another political conflict when the empire seeks to strike a peace treaty with Lucis Caelum CXIII (Sean Bean), the sovereign king of Lucis.
Review: Opening with a large scale battle between the forces of Lucis and Niflheim, Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV begins practically incoherent, and masked by stellar computer-generated animation, the film barrages the viewer with heavy exposition and lore dumps from the very beginning, coming thick and heavy every 10 minutes or so, as it attempts to quickly fill in fans, casual viewers, and everyone in between with the film’s in-universe history as it preps the former two for the eventual Final Fantasy XV game that will make its debut at the end of November. Burdened with the weight of being a tie-in entry into what will be video game developer Square Enix’s behemoth franchise to recoup the costs spent on making a game that was initially announced in 2006 and still hasn’t come out ten years later, Kingsglaive – for the most part – is a disappointing mess.
As a prequel to Final Fantasy XV, that simultaneously runs parallel to the game, two thirds of Kingsglaive is spent covering the events that occur in Lucis, and the final one third sets up the events in the game. That said, a lot of the film is spent mucking around pointlessly given how everything comes to an end for the main cast of the film – Nyx, King Regis, and Lunafreya Nox Fleuret (Lena Headey) –, effectively bringing about existential questions around what was the entire purpose to establishing the Kingsglaive unit other than being a cog in the political dealings of the film, of which there are many, much more than the action sequences. That isn’t a snide remark on the film; it’s the exact opposite. By keeping the action to a minimum and restricted to the opening and final act, Kingsglaive manages its 110 minutes running time effectively; the exposition dumps are punctuated by decent character moments, and slightly better political manoeuvrings by both sides in the film’s conflict.
Yet for all its style, from the gorgeous display in advances of CGI technology to the brilliant action sequences, Kingsglaive doesn’t do much for what it is as a film, in the same way Square Enix’s second film venture, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2005) didn’t. It doesn’t try to tell a story as much as it tries to function as an advertisement for a game that’ll come out three to four months later. It isn’t a cinematic experience as much as it is a really long videogame cutscene, right down to the editing choice of fading to black abruptly multiple times. Coupled with the terrible English dubbing, where voices come out of each character’s lips out of synch, or sounding completely jarring from the faces the lips are attached to, or the choice of having two different voice casts for characters that will appear in both the film and game – Sean Bean and Lena Headey aren’t voicing their characters in the game –, Kingsglaive is an annoyance to sit through, even for someone that is certainly going to get Final Fantasy XV.