Big Josh and I just sat down with a bottle of Jim Bean black label and watched Advent Children. My verdict in one sentence: THIS is what we should have gotten when Square tried to feed us "Final Fantasy, The Spirits Within."
The Spirits Within was an okay movie (about three beers), but it was not a Final Fantasy movie, and never should have been called that. Advent Children was a Final Fantasy movie. Nobuo Uematsu did a phenomenal job with the music. The story was what I expect from the series (confusing but geared towards epic fights). Every Final Fantasy aspect that is key to the series made it in there... <SPOILER> even the victory song in a very sneaky method</SPOILER> . I have been craving a true, blue Final Fantasy movie ever since they first announced Spirits Within. It's too bad that I had to wait four extra years to get it, but it was worth the wait.
As for the movie itself. It was very good. Not a one-beer movie, but way up there. I have a couple minor complaints that would include spoilers to explain, but it's not worth it. They're mostly continuity things. I will tell you my only major complaint was the over-the-top fight sequences. I am not even going to TRY to say they weren't cool. They were cool as fucking sipping ice-tea in Antarctica during a cold spell. But they were so super-human that they just didn't feel SATISFYING. I'm a purist when it comes to fight choreography, be it real or animated. When it's animated, I don't expect realism, but I like to feel a certain suggestion of the reality that the characters are defying. Advent Children simply lacked that. The fights were epic, super human, and above and beyond anything remotely realistic. They were DAMN cool, but it didn't feel like the characters worked for it.
If fight realism is the only complaint I can come up with, then I really don't have an argument for this movie not being good. It rocked, it was fun to watch, and it brought back memories of playing one of the best RPGs ever made. I totally plan on paying for it when it it purchasable. If it actually makes it to US theaters, I'm shelling up to watch it on the big screen. Square did a good job, and it's worth recognizing that. I give it one and a half shots.