I don’t think anyone expected there to be a movie attached to Final Fantasy XV. It had been years since Square Enix made a Final Fantasy movie and considering the reception of previous films no one would second guess it. And then Kingsglaive was announced at the Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV event. One of three tie-in projects, the other two being Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV and Justice Monsters Five. Currently, the film sits between 7 and 10 percent on rotten tomatoes from what I’ve heard, but that’s from critics. From the people who’ve watched the film it has scored much, much higher, and I’m inclined to agree with the masses on this one.
The funny this is, Kingsglaive is neither a standalone film nor is it required viewing for people who will be playing the game. It sits somewhere in between that. Enjoyable for the average viewer, but giving a bit more context as to what happened during a particular event that runs concurrent with the games first chapter for those that will be playing the game or may now be more inclined to play the game. That event is the fall of Insomnia, the Lucian capital. If you were going in blind I apologize, but it’s hard to talk about this movie without addressing what the entire point of the movie is. And to be clear, most of the people following this game were aware of this plot point for many years because it was one of the few plot tidbits we ever got about Versus XIII and after it was rebranded XV. In fact, I should probably also mention that Kingsglaive was originally a part of the game itself. When the game was rebranded the story went through extensive rewrites to condense it into a single title and overall make it better(Do not confuse better with deviating from the original plan.). The portion that would become Kingsglaive originally starred Noctis as he went about his princely duties as a part of the treaty signing festivities and Lunafreya, then known as Stella and not a princess, was simply an aristocrat from Tenebrae who had never met Noctis before. After the rewrites, Kingsglaive was deemed too large to include in the game itself, so it was pulled from the game and turned into a movie that would act as a prequel of sorts.
I can’t say that I’m disappointed with what we got. Kingsglaive’s story, while not the greatest story ever told, hits the notes it needs to and provides a lot fanservice for those of us that have been waiting almost a decade for this story. From the games original theme song Somnus playing during the familiar yet different party scene to the treaty signing itself which was practically identical to how it was envisioned all those years ago.
Of course, a story is nothing without its characters. Most of them are good, though the members of the Kingsglaive don’t get a lot of character development. Lunafreya comes across as a reckless, but responsible and confident woman. Although, she would have been even better had the writers remembered to tell the audience what her role even is. Anyone following the game will know that Lunafreya is an Oracle, someone who is able to commune with the gods and can stave off the Plague of the Stars, but the movie makes no mention of that, only that her duty and destiny are intertwined and she is tied to Noctis in more ways than their engagement. She also doesn’t do any fighting. If you were hoping for her to show her fighting skills, you won’t find it here, probably because she never possesses a weapon throughout the film, leaving her to be escorted and protected by everyone else in order to fulfill a duty that we’re told nothing about.
In the protagonist seat we have Nyx Ulric, a Kingsglaive member with an ego larger than his head. People think of him as a hero and he doesn’t deny that. He’s a badass and saves people, plain and simple, and that is all he ever really is in the film. He is what moves the story from beginning to end, even if he as a character doesn’t really develop. He has a few moments that show that he is clearly having an internal conflict, but those conflicts typically get resolved instantly. In other words, he’s not the greatest protagonist I’ve ever seen, but since he’ll only appear in the movie he is acceptable, and that is partly because...
...King Regis is the real star of Kingsglaive. Played by Sean Bean, King Regis is a noble ruler who cares deeply about his people. However, he too carries a heavy burden and his duty ultimately compels him to accept the Empires terms, a decision that is not met with widespread applauds. King Regis displays a level of humanity. He is old, he is weak, he is tired, and on top of all of that his duty compels him to protect his son above all else, even if it means betraying the people of Lucis. I would absolutely love to get a prequel game starring Regis in his younger days, as he feels like a character who has quite the story to tell.
But of course, I also have to mention Ravus(Ray-vus) Nox Fleuret, Lunafreya’s elder brother and prince of Tenebrae. He is the mysterious hooded man seen in the Versus XIII trailers and the E3 2013 cinematic trailer, and Kingsglaive is his introduction. Ravus originally loved King Regis and Noctis, but after his mother was killed by General Glauca during an ambush and King Regis fled with Noctis, leaving Tenebrae to its fate despite being an ally, Ravus developed an intense hatred for the Caelum bloodline and now works as an officer in the Niflheim military. He blames Regis for all the misfortune that has befallen him. Despite his lack of screentime, I can still tell that his character could be interesting in the game itself and so my hopes are high.
Aside from the story and characters of Kingsglaive, if that isn’t your thing, is the epic action. Kingsglaive is packed full of fast-paced action that’ll keep anyones attention. People have actually admitted to watching the movie just for that and did not come away disappointed, and neither did I. The CG is jaw-dropping, making me question if I was watching a live action film or one generated by computers. It was that high quality. Quite frankly, you could make wallpapers out of the entire film. What else can I really say about all that? You have to see the action for yourself and watch the film on Blu-ray/stream in HD to fully appreciate its beauty and the amount of work that the artists put into it.
The soundtrack is on a whole other level as well. While John Graham may have been the composer for the film, his work was built on top of Yoko Shimomura’s work. She composed the soundtrack for the game and returned for the film. She solely created the main theme for the film, but she also composed all of the other songs in the film. John Graham then took her songs and put his own spin on them to give it more of a Hollywood meets Final Fantasy feel. And it did not disappoint in the slightest. Just listen to this track:
The movie is filled with tracks like that and I can’t stop listening to it. Sadly the soundtrack itself doesn’t release until the end of the month, pushed back from its original early September release, so we’ll have to wait to hear all the rest without other sounds getting in the way.
So should you watch this film? That is for you to decide. If you’re a Final Fantasy fan, then I think you’ll enjoy the film. If you’re going to get the game, then I think you should watch this film. If you’re neither of those things, you might still enjoy this film, but I’d wait until a rental option is available just in case you don’t like it. Then you only put down maybe $6 instead of $15. I loved the film even when multiple people told me it was bad. I don’t think so. Maybe you disagree, and that’s fine. To each their own, but I’ll be rewatching this one at least a couple times.
Now I can speak freely, thank god.
Okay, so let me clarify some character motivations because I know a lot of people who watched the film had issues with that.
First off, the Kingsglaive members and their betrayal. A lot of people felt that that was out of left field, but it really wasn’t if you actually put thought into it. Then it made perfect sense. All of the members of the Kingsglaive came from the territories beyond Insomnia. They’re immigrants fighting to protect their vulnerable homes from Niflheim. The Kingsglaive motto is “For hearth and home.” And then King Regis, after 12 years of constant fighting, accepted Niflheims treaty terms to hand over all the land beyond Insomnia. The members of the Kingsglaive felt betrayed by their king, and as a result they colluded with Niflheim to overthrow Regis. They had had enough.
And then there was Ravus. A lot of people called out that his hatred towards King Regis was misplaced, as it was Niflheim and General Glauca that killed his mother and conquered Tenebrae. And they’re not wrong. Lunafreya even makes mention of this in the film. But the fact is that Ravus does hate Niflheim. But Regis abandoned them. Lucis and Tenebrae were allies in the war against Niflheim, but Regis fled in order to save himself and Noctis. He broke his oath to Tenebrae and betrayed everyone. As a result, Ravus was denied his royal birthright and Tenebrae became a territory under Niflheim, with Lunafreya’s role as Oracle being the only thing that gives Tenebrae any sort of autonomy. He is a prince in title only. So who should he really hate more? The people who killed his mother and conquered his home, or the man who let all of it happen in the first place? He has decided to focus all of his hatred on Regis and Noctis for the hardships that have befallen him and he is using Niflheim to exact his vengeance.
Something I noticed about how this film sets up Lunafreya is that it isn’t afraid to hint that she may possibly die in Final Fantasy XV. The fact that she is not afraid to die and conversations that end with her saying she’ll fulfill her duty and destiny no matter the cost all hint at her possibly dying. To be honest, if that does come to pass then it’s hard to say I didn’t see that coming. Obviously I have, and many others have as well. It’s a common plot device. If they build up to it just right, it’ll work. And if they don’t, her death will fall flat. So if she does die, they need handle it with extreme care. Though personally speaking I hope she doesn’t die. I mean, I wanted a tragedy of Shakespearian proportions, but something a little less predictable would be nice.
All of that being said, I do partially consider Noctis’ absence from the film as a grievance. The entirety of Regis and Lunafreya’s motivations has to do with Noctis being important to the future, but it is never explained what that is and the audience doesn’t even get to meet this critically important character. He shows up in the prologue as a child, and then he appears again as an adult in a post-credits sequence that was made in the game engine. I hardly count the post-credits scene as a great way to introduce the audience to him, especially when the visuals took a major hit because of it. Would it have killed them to include the opening of Chapter 1 in the movie with the same level of visuals as the film itself? I would have loved to see Noctis in Kingsglaives’ graphics and have the prince of Lucis properly introduced and then have him leave to prepare for the wedding. That would have been perfect. But no, they didn’t, and all you get is a tease for the game.
The last thing I’ll mention is my favorite scene: Regis’ death. Ah yes, the curse of Sean Bean strikes again. But not before Regis gives a speech to Lunafreya about how her mother would have loved to see the day her and Noctis were married, implying that they had both planned this over twelve years earlier. The arranged nature of it is made blunt by the fact that Lunafreya does love Noctis despite it having been 12 years since they last saw each other. And then we see Regis be impaled by Glauca with a reasonable amount of blood. It’s the best scene in the whole movie because as I said, Regis was the real star of the film. He was the heart of it, and then that heart was torn out and crushed before our very eyes. One last mention of the marriage is made at the end of the film when Libertus refers to Luna as his queen and tells her to give his regards to the king and that they’re both welcome in Galahd any time. That hit me because it was an acknowledgement of the fact that Regis was dead and that Noctis had inherited the title of king, unbeknownst to him because of his fathers death, an event that he never wanted to think about as shown in Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV.
And that wraps up my really long review. Hope you enjoyed it.