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Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV review – a beautiful monster of film

Although fans are wary of another Square Enix film after the box office disaster that was Final Fantasy: Spirits Within, and the confusion that was Advent Children, Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV promised bigger and better things for fans. There’s clearly a vast amount of time and money gone into this project, along with an A-list cast. The team has done everything they can to assure fans that this was going to be the film that broke their losing streak.

Should fans still be wary of this film? Yes and no.

Those who know the Final Fantasy world and have seen the sneak peek of the FFXV game will know what to look for to follow the story, although the plot is fraught with confusion. A non-fan with no FF knowledge and no desire to play the game afterwards will be completely lost as to what is going on.

Why do they keep talking about a prince who’s not even in the movie? Why do the characters have American, English, Scottish, and Australian accents all mixed together? Why is the evil chancellor dressed like a cowboy with a British accent dragging what looks like a dragon wing on his arm?

So many questions, with no answers strictly given in the movie itself. It’s a much tougher ride for those not familiar with the franchise.

The story in the film occurs parallel to the events that will occur in the Final Fantasy XV game. While Prince Noctis and his buddies road trip in the game, the movie covers what happens at the kingdom while they are away.

The movie opens with a dense monologue by Lena Headey, explaining the struggle between the kingdom of Lucis and Niflheim throughout the ages. Niflheim has been conquering lands left and right for hundreds of years, and continues to battle Lucis for control of their magic crystal that protects their lands and imbues the king and his subordinates with power. In what is obviously a con, Niflheim offers Lucis a chance at peace: if they marry crown prince Noctis to their princess Lunafreya, Niflheim will take over control of Lucis, but in a peaceful way.


Exhausted by the centuries of long war, the King agrees, setting off a chain of events that are full of beautiful battle and chase scenes, and over-long diplomatic meeting sessions. But man, what a pretty adventure it all is.

Super Great: King Regis Lucis Caelum CXVIII is played by Sean Bean. As soon as the world learned that Sean Bean would play an elderly king again, we all feared he was in for the same fate as Bean’s past characters. No spoilers here, but the thought looms pretty heavy throughout the film until the end. Regis is a king with noble aspirations, but has a tired soul from the years of battling with Niflheim.


When Niflheim suggests the peace treaty, with some struggle he accepts. He knows he cannot fight the war this way forever, sacrificing his troops to endless battles. Bean does a wonderful job portraying the weary king and breathes life into what would normally be a throwaway monarch character. Despite the sometimes stiff nature of the CG for the faces in this film, the voice gives Regis all the regalness and compassion that his character has.

Great: Nyx Ulric, played by Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad, Bojack Horseman), is written admirably as a member of the Kingsglaive who just wants peace. His home country was taken by Niflheim years ago, and he lost his family in the process. Now, he only hopes for peace and will do anything to achieve it when it is threatened.


Paul gives a great performance as Nyx, showing the actor has a wide range outside of his past characters as the young side kick for Walter White or the wacky roommate of Bojack Horseman. Nyx is the quintessential “hero” type of this film. It doesn’t seem like he needs a lot of pushing from Princess Lunafreya to continuing to try to protect the land even when all hope seems lost. Instead, his character is able to rise to the occasion of adversity, in an epic and action-packed way at the end of the film. Nyx is a pretty fun bad ass to follow.

The Bad: Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, what is going on with you? The only female protagonist of this film is the Princess, who is offered up as a sacrificial lamb and then as bait by Niflheim. Her character is written as quietly strong. We see that she has accepted that her life is only the sum of what it symbolizes for the kingdom, which she embraces to an almost suicidal extent in the film.

This girl has no sense of self preservation (she literally throws herself out of an aircraft with no gear on when she thinks she might not make it to where the king is in time), and sure likes to say “I do not fear death” an awful lot.


Voiced by Lena Headey (Game of Thrones), Lunafreya’s frail, translucent features do not match her powerful voice in the least. Lunafreya’s character design is odd, which isn’t anything new to the Final Fantasy franchise, but it is distractingly so in the film. Her face emotes a total of zero times throughout the film, adding awkwardness to scenes where there should be fear, power, or willfulness.

She falls off of a ladder into an empty abyss and only gives a weak “Oh!” in response, as her facial features never change. Her face reads sharp and a bit alien on screen, with her pure-as-the-driven-snow skin and white garments beating into the audience that, “Yes! Her thoughts and feelings are pure! She is the symbol of goodness and peace!” God, we get it, guys. Take it down a notch.

I was disappointed in Lunafreya’s character to say the least, but maybe she’ll boss-up by the time we see her again in the FFXV game. As for this movie, she’s just a monotone plot device to keep the characters moving around.

The CG in this movie is exquisite. Disregarding everything else, this movie is the most beautiful thing you will see on the big screen for many years to come. The details of this world come alive in a truly magical way. In the movie, it is a treat to be able to see the various landscapes of the Final Fantasy XV world.

The boiling disaster of the battlefield in the opening scenes crackles with fire and violence among a barren desert. The royal castle is majesty and magic in a scene where it is surrounded by fireworks and an aurora borealis-esque twinkling sky, the effect of the crystal’s protective shield domed around all of Lucis. Lucis’ capital city of Insomnia (the name is distractingly wacky) is a futuristic version of Tokyo, with sweeping freeways and giant statues plotted about the city.

The only off scenery we see is the glimpse of the ghettos where Nyx and his fellow refugee friends live far outside the castle grounds. It’s introduced with a layover of pop Indian music, and looks a confusing amalgam of New York, Tokyo, and Agrabah. Despite that last weird one, the scenery is gorgeous and worth pausing to soak it all in.

After the movie’s introduction, we are thrust into a brilliant battle sequence of the Kingsglaive protecting their country’s borders against Niflheim troops. They look like space-aged Nazi robots. Check the battle out in the clip above!

This opening sequence had my jaw dropping to the floor. A beautiful display of the Kingsglaive transportation magic and stunning battle choreography, we also get to see the fearsome demonic technology of Niflheim. The biomechanical monster that spews a thousand missiles is stunning and horrifying in its destruction. I loved that this battle also included a team of magic users on the high ground creating shields for the ground troops. It was a nice touch for those of us hoping to glimpse some mages in the film.

After this, the audience must wait until halfway through the movie for the action to pick up again as Nyx and Lunafreya battle the Niflheim forces trying to capture them. One of the strongest parts of this film is the action choreography. And let’s not forget about the surprises sprung upon viewers that nod back to the Final Fantasy franchise. No spoilers, but I can promise you some airships and hidden monsters. No chocobos yet, unfortunately.

What is happening here? The entirety of the main cast is Caucasian. We see maybe a total of 10 people of color in the entire film, ranging from background NPCs to side characters with no names. This was disappointing to say the least. For what’s supposed to be a city full of refugees from multiple Niflheim-conquered countries, y’all look kind of the same. Not a win for diversity here.

Kingsglaive is a treat for the eyes, but not really for the brain. The story is weak and it’s hard to care about the stone-cold princess or the wacky villains, but at least we love King Regis and the brave Nyx. The end falls a little flat as it neatly takes care of characters in the movie who won’t be appearing in the game. Despite this, the amazing landscapes and battle scenes make this movie worth watching for fans of the game and the fantasy genre alike. And hey, it did make me pumped for the game, which I’m pretty sure is its real purpose.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget to wait until after the credits for a little surprise!

The movie hits select theaters this Friday, August 19th, and will be available for digital download and Blu-ray and DVD on October 4th.

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