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'Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV' Blu-ray Review: For hearth and home

October 4, 2016Ben MK

The Final Fantasy videogame series has come a long way since the release of the first game on the Nintendo Entertainment System, way back in 1987. However, unless you've been with the franchise since its humble beginnings, it can be all but impossible to navigate the complex web of characters and in-game terminology, not to mention the sprawling mythology, that has grown out of the series' rich, nearly-30-year history.

To some degree, that same aura of impenetrability exists around Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, a stunningly rendered computer-animated film that follows in the footsteps of 2001's Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and 2005's Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. For the most part, though, Kingsglaive proves surprisingly accessible to newcomers to the Final Fantasy franchise, which is great news for the makers of the upcoming Final Fantasy XV, the Playstation 4 and Xbox One title to which Kingsglaive serves as a prequel.

The film's title derives from the Kingsglaive, a cadre of elite warriors (called Glaives) assembled by King Regis (Sean Bean) to defend his peaceful kingdom of Lucis from the military might of the Niflheim empire, with whom Lucis has been at war with for centuries. As for the plot itself, it has to do with a Glaive named Nyx (Aaron Paul), who must protect a Princess named Lunafreya (Lena Headey) while trying to defend the Lucian capital of Insomnia from an onslaught of Niflheim agents, who have infiltrated the city under the pretense of a peace treaty.

As a standalone movie, Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV does a commendable job immersing viewers in the world, explaining the backstory and introducing the various characters. Still, there will be moments that will leave some in the audience scratching their heads. That being said, director Takeshi Nozue's film is primarily intended as a primer for Final Fantasy XV; and to that end, Nozue and writer Takashi Hasegawa succeed spectacularly, aided in no small measure by jaw-dropping visuals, breathtaking action sequences and a top-notch voice cast.

The shining jewel in Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV's crown is its photorealistic visuals; and thankfully, this 1080p Blu-ray transfer does not disappoint in the slightest. Though the film's character animation can occasionally slip into uncanny valley territory, the picture quality here never falters, resulting in a crystal-clear image teeming with fine detail, with rich and robust color saturation and pixel-perfect black levels and contrast, from the elaborate suits of armor worn by Niflheim's soldiers to the silver, gold and black color scheme of Insomnia. Paired with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix, the film's technical presentation is even more impressive, as viewers will find themselves surrounded by the sounds of fire-breathing creatures, heavy weapons fire and swords striking swords, with tons of LFE to drive home the impact of explosions, crumbling structures and large-scale devastation.

Sony's single-disc Blu-ray release includes an UltraViolet digital copy and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • A Way With Words: Epic and Intimate Vocals (4:53) - Aaron Paul, Sean Bean and Lena Headey speak about their experiences lending their voices to the film's computer-generated characters.
  • To Capture The Kingsglaive: The Process (6:08) - A look at the motion and facial capture technology used to bring the film's complex character performances to life.
  • Fit For The Kingsglaive: Building the World (5:35) - A piece about the filmmakers' efforts to build a convincing world that's both futuristic and fantastic, from the character designs, to the production and costume design.
  • Emotive Music: Scoring The Kingsglaive (6:05) - A behind-the-scenes peek at the creation of composer John Graham's score for the film, which blends orchestral instruments with a synthesized sound, mirroring the film's marrying of ancient magic and modern technology.

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment as of October 4th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English, French and Portuguese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, and Japanese, Spanish and Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. The film is presented with English, English SDH, Cantonese, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, Indonesian, Korean, Malay, Portuguese, Spanish and Thai subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 55 Mins.

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