It’s always hard to do a review of an anime movie that’s based on a TV series. These kinds of film tend to work as continuations of the shows they’re based on, and make it difficult to judge it on its own merit for people who may not know what’s going on. FullMetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos (released by Funimation and animated by Studio Bones) doesn’t try to complicate itself by explaining everything for new people, instead focusing on the strengths in storytelling the show and its original manga (created by Hiromu Arakawa).
First, a brief overview of the original story. FullMetal Alchemist follows the story of the Elric Brothers, Edward and his younger brother Alphonse. In a world with a heavy steampunk setting, where alchemy is the most prominent form of abilities. It’s not magic, so much as using spiritual energy to transmute materials into other forms. There’s a science to it, and the Elrics are geniuses in that regard. As children, they performed the ultimate taboo, attempting to use alchemy to resurrect their dead mother. Since there’s nothing to equal the value of a human soul, the two are punished for their transgression, Al losing his body, and Ed losing his right arm and left leg. Al survives with his soul bound to a massive suit of armor, while Ed gets automail limbs (steampunk-style cybernetics), with both brothers gaining incredible boosts to their alchemic abilities. Ed becomes a military alchemist so the two can research more alchemy and find a proper way to restore their bodies to normal. The film takes place during that plotline.
When a prisoner with dangerous alchemic skills escapes from prison, the Elrics follow him to Table City, a border town between their home country of Amestris and its neighbor Creta. Table City was once the Holy Land of Milos, and the Milosians are fighting a guerilla war against both sides. Ed and Al find themselves among the Milosians, and as the plot twists build, the brothers once again find themselves determining just how high the cost should be to achieve a goal.
Possibly the biggest flaw in this film isn’t one born of not knowing much about the original series. It’s that in the third act the plot twists become so convoluted that it may be a bit hard to follow. This isn’t to say that it’s not a good story, it’s just that there’s barely time to absorb one twist when suddenly another is thrown at you. But the bad doesn’t outweigh the good here.
FullMetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos is one of the best animated action films I’ve seen in a while. The fight scenes are incredibly well-done, making great use of the fantastic setting and the possibilities of alchemy to make some awesome battles. And the scale of things can only be described as epic. In the climax, you will see things are just too awesome to spoil. But as always with this franchise, the heart and soul of it are the Elric brothers, whose interactions with each other and the rest of the cast are humorous, heartfelt, touching and badass all at once.
Is this the best place to start getting into FullMetal Alchemist? Probably not. But it is a good movie, and despite the rapid-fire twists near the end, it’s a great adventure. If you can catch this while it’s still in theaters, check it out. You may be surprised by what you like.
|Great animation, extremely well-done action scenes and a lot of good characterization with a lot of charm and heart.||May not be the best place to jump into this franchise, and the plot-twists happen with not enough time to absorb before another hits you.|