Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete 4K Blu-ray
4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital
Sony Pictures | 2005 | 126 min | Unrated | Jun 08, 2021
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete on 4K/UHD is the fourth (and hopefully final) copy of this movie in my movie collection, which is a bit ironic because it’s not even one of my favorite movies by any stretch, but it has always served as a technical benchmark over the years. Originally released to DVD in 2005 in Japan and coming to North America with an English dub seven months later, this was the perfect companion flick to the Final Fantasy VII video game on PlayStation. Three years later we would see the extended edition released on Blu-ray, adding 26 minutes of new and expanded scenes to the 101-minute original. And finally, my third copy, the UMD version for the Sony PSP, also released in 2005.
It should come as no surprise as to the timing of this new 4K edition or the fact that it even exists considering the massive positive response to the recently released Final Fantasy VII Remake game on PS4 and PS5. With such renewed interested in the property now is the perfect time to strike with an updated version of the movie that will play nicely in one of those impossible-to-find PS5 systems…or any other 4K player.
Having never reviewed this movie in any previous formats I was anxious to see this latest remaster through a more critical eye. Personally, the story, pacing, and extended fight scenes in Advent Children have always been a bit of a turn-off, but I have always enjoyed the spectacle of it all and appreciate all the work and detail that goes into making these feature-length CG films. But even as the movie began I instantly saw signs of aging on this 15-year old film, stuff that likely couldn’t be fixed without re-rendering the entire film in 4K while other issues are just victim to the tools of the time. So much has changed since this was made that almost any feature animated film is going to look better. To sum it up in words that movie lovers and gamers can both relate; the cutscenes and even some of the gameplay in the latest PS5 version of Final Fantasy VII Remake look better than this movie.
The specs for the disc claim a 2160p and I’m sure that’s the output resolution, but I have to wonder what this film was originally rendered at as there seems to be copious amounts of aliasing issues with visible jagged edges that turn into shimmering across characters and landscapes. Even the opening shot feels dated with these artifacts cropping up on the terrain combined with some awkward animation for the creature running toward camera and some horrible motion blur that continues throughout the film during any panning wide shot. I fear the 4x boost in resolution only serves to accentuate these flaws.
To test my theory I immediately re-watched the movie a second time using the included Blu-ray disc, which is also home to all the bonus features for this box set – more on that in a moment. In back-to-back comparisons I am surprised to say that the Blu-ray version offers the more pleasing viewing experience, although the UHD version does have a few things going for it. The overall picture is a bit sharper but only in certain scenes under close scrutiny that most viewers won’t be using. Keep in mind the Blu-ray version of this film was already pushing the visuals to the limits based on the source material. There wasn’t much left for UHD to add with the exception of HDR.
Making the most of HDR10, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete sees a significant improvement for overall depth and tone despite the entire film having a depressing washed out look to it. Everything is consistently flat giving the game a PS3 cutscene vibe. HDR really shines in the scenes with shadows and especially in the dark forest with the glowing trees where everything comes alive, but overall this is not the prettiest CG movie by any standard and those looking for a more pleasing picture can stick with the Blu-ray.
One area that sets the UHD version apart is the newly remastered Dolby Atmos mix for both English and Japanese tracks. The movie was animated for Japanese, so if you go with the English dub then expect some lip-synching issues that are almost as bad as the dirty looks you’ll get from your purist friends who would never even consider watching an English dub. I was perfectly happy with the English performances that freed my eyes from reading text to actually watching the movie. The soundtrack can only be described as “epic”, even as early as the opening shot as the camera rises over the mountain to overlook the sprawling landscape and city below. The first occurrence of height sound comes with the flock of birds that fly in overhead, both on camera and my Atmos ceiling speakers. It’s a robust audio mix that uses all the speakers to create an immersive 3D space, yet perfectly balanced so you never miss any of the dialogue. For those without an Atmos setup you can still enjoy Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and DTS-HD MA 5.1 mixes as well as some new subtitle options previously not offered.
Bonus features are limited to the BD disc only and consist of the same material found on the 2009 edition. You get On the Way to a Smile – Episode: Denzel Animated Film, Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII Origin Story Digest, Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII Compilation Story Digest, Legacy of Final Fantasy VII Featurette, some trailers, and a Movies Anywhere digital code.
There is no denying the lucrative timing for this latest release of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete on 4K/UHD, but that still doesn’t make it a worthy addition to your 4K library, especially if you favor technology over story. Personally, Adventure Children is lacking in both with only a superior Atmos soundtrack boosting the experience to something above average. If you already own the Blu-ray and don’t have an Atmos setup then stick with what you’ve got. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete on 4K is only for the most extreme fans of the franchise.