If it’s not already incredibly obvious, I am very much seated in the first carriage of the Final Fantasy XV hype train. Naturally, it would have been downright blasphemous to miss the theatrical release of Kingsglaive. Taking place during the same time frame as the beginning of the game, the movie sets out to establish the political situation in the world of Eos. The technologically advanced Niflheim has been steadily waging war against the other nations of the world. Still standing due to the power of its crystal, the last one in possession, the nation of Lucis’ magically enhanced military unit, the Kingsglaive, fights to protect the kingdom’s borders.
Suffering from incredibly unfavourable critic reviews, the movie is obviously not intended for a general audience. Instead, Kingsglaive seems to be targeted towards fans of the franchise as well as those interested in the upcoming game. From what I’ve seen, the general consensus is that Kingsglaive is taken as an extended cutscene made to accompany the game, rather than a full-fledged, standalone film. Personally, I can understand the sentiment. The constant spew of information never felt substantial, no matter how it was delivered. However, once everything was established, and the plot’s direction became clear, the movie started to kick off. The action scenes were often well choreographed, but were hard to follow at times. Though, what else can you expect when the protagonist has the same ability to teleport as Noctis? Information overload aside, the movie definitely had its strong points. Unfortunately, it was, in the end, primarily a promotional tool for the game. As such, Kingslaive isn’t really able to make a definitive impact when taken on its own.
In an attempt for the movie to be separate from the game, while still being relevant to the overall story, some of the character development fell a little flat. Making it so Kingsglaive wasn’t a necessary component to enjoy the game was an admirable endeavour, but it caused the movie to seem almost redundant at times. Due to it not being a crucial part of the game’s story, I felt it safe to assume that the main characters of Kingsglaive wouldn’t be featured in Final Fantasy XV. Under this assumption, I figured that the majority of characters wouldn’t be worth developing any meaningful connections with. That being said, I did enjoy the interactions between the main characters. In particular, Lunafreya stuck out to me more than anyone else, but probably only because I initially expected her to be literally useless.
The familiar voices of Aaron Paul, Lena Headey and Sean Bean headline as the characters Nyx, Lunafreya and King Regis respectively for the movie. The movie’s director, Takeshi Nozue, may also be recognisable to those who have seen Advent Children, or played the main series Kingdom Hearts games. Nozue was named as the movie’s sole director over the game’s director, Hajime Tabata, while also working as the visual director for the game. During interviews, Nozue has stated that he was most proud of how realistic the team made the world and characters look; which he has every reason to be proud of. It’s worth watching Kingsglaive for the CGI and animation alone, especially on the big screen. Square Enix honestly went above and beyond my expectations, and there were times where I caught myself wondering whether what I was watching was live action or not.
Kingsglaive also referenced many past Final Fantasy monsters and bosses through Niflheim’s Demons. Ultros from Final Fantasy VI, Diamond Weapon from Final Fantasy VII, and Cerberus from Final Fantasy VIII all made cameos as Demons in the movie. Creatures such as Chocobos and Malboros were also shown as part of everyday culture in Lucis’ city of Insomnia. There’s a staggaring amount of references to previous Final Fantasy titles throughout the movie, and it probably wouldn’t be worthy of its namesake without them.
Although I wholeheartedly loved it, I don’t think I could honestly recommend this movie to absolutely anyone. As I stated earlier, Kingsglaive is aimed at an audience containing primarily Final Fantasy fans. However, in saying that, I brought some of my not so Final Fantasy inclined friends along with me to watch the movie, and they all found it entertaining.
While there are moments that can be universally enjoyed, the movie as a whole will most likely be forgotten pretty quickly over time. At the moment, though, with Final Fantasy XV around the corner, Kingsglaive is a must see for anyone keen for the game.