Review: Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (Movie)


Title: Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV
Release Date: July 9, 2016
Studio: Square Enix Company / Sony Pictures
Director: Takeshi Nozue
Main Cast: Aaron Paul, Lena Headey, Sean Bean
Genre: Action, Adventure, SciFi
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 110 Mins.
Country: Japan, USA
Language: English
A pre-release screening was provided by the studio for review purposes.
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I wanted to review Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, because I have not played the series of games, nor have I watched the films. I never really had the time or inclination. That being said, this film intrigued me and I wondered if I would understand and enjoy the narrative, and maybe even become invested in the upcoming game.

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV hurls you straight into the action. Gorgeous as it may be, I felt a little lost and confused. After a decent part of the film had gone by, I gathered that the two warring empires, Lucis and Niflheim had been battling over a scared crystal.

King Regis of Lucis (Sean Bean) charged an elite group of soldiers called the Kingsglaive to protect Lucis. I’m not sure how but the soldiers use the king’s magic to perform all sorts of feats, the most common one being to throw a dagger and disappear in a puff of blue sparks only to reappear moments later clutching that very same dagger.


The focus of the film is on a Kingsglaive called Nyx (Aaron Paul) and a Princess Lunafreya of Tenebrae (Lena Headey) who is held captive by Niflheim. I am sure the many people who know the Final Fantasy lore will have a much better time following the first half of the film, but it took me that long before I could keep up with the story.

It does not help when many of the expository scenes appear curtailed and contrived only to be crammed between long and elaborate action sequences that work wonders to bring a remarkable and often astonishing spectacle to life, but do little to help the convoluted story.

… I fear the general consumer will find this film lacking …
Aside from Nyx, hardly any other characters get much screen time and I never felt a connection to them. The emotion that I should have felt just was not there. Even a bizarrely dressed antagonist had promise and intrigue but no resolution. This happened to most of the ancillary characters as well.

I expect many of these stories play out in the upcoming game, but the passion needed to pull me into it is nowhere near strong enough. This is why I fear the general consumer will find this film lacking, unless of course they are only looking for some crazy summer blockbuster action.

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With the exception of one or two trips into the uncanny valley, I was very impressed with the facial animations and overall look of the cast. The locations are something to marvel at with a few fleeting moments where I felt I was staring at a live action movie.

As you would expect from a CGI film, the picture quality is excellent and the camera swoops and dives into impossible angles that would make any director of photography swoon. Yet some cuts, especially in the quiet moments, seem forced and a few scenes have no purpose.

… some moments look eerily real …
The voice work from the main characters is excellent, especially with Sean Bean lending a distinctive gravitas to his memorable character. Aaron Paul was an unexpected surprise and I enjoyed his performance too. Lip-syncing was a little bit off across the board at times but nothing that marred the experience by any means.

The music is both bombastic and generalized but never disappoints. It surprisingly comes across as more Hollywood than I would have liked considering the franchise origins, but at least it retains some of the theme and flavour, even if it feels a little overshadowed at times.


I was surprised by this movie as it managed to deliver a very action-packed and enjoyable experience. Sadly, the tangled narrative needed more time to simmer allowing for the characters and story to sink in. Some exceptional action sequences really show off how far computer-generated imagery has come, and some moments look eerily real.

I can easily see how fans of the series would love this film. I doubt they would struggle with the weaving story and instead just admire the care and attention that has been lavished on their adored franchise. I fear the tough job of being accessible to a general audience and keeping the fans happy, all the while telling too many stories in such a short time never quite works. The emotion that Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV desperately needs is not apparent.


* All screenshots used in this review were provided by the studio.

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