Fullmetal Alchemist: Live Action Movie Review
This year’s first ANIME NYC was a resounding success. I meet other anime fans; participated in engaging panels, and even grabbed some awesome fan art! One of the highlights of the convention was going to see the live action Fullmetal Alchemist (FMA) movie. Director Fumihiko Sori and his team did an amazing job bringing the world of FMA to life. I’ve been a fan of FMA since 2007. It was one of the first anime and manga series that pulled me into Japanese animation. FMA follows the adventures of the Elric brothers as they search for the philosopher’s stone, a relic said to bypass all the laws of alchemy and their one hope to return their bodies to normal. The brothers’ original bodies were destroyed when they attempted to resurrect their dead mother, but such an act is considered the greatest taboo in alchemy. Edward lost his right arm and left leg while the younger brother Alphonse’s soul is bound to live within a suit of armor forever. Along the way the brothers uncover government conspiracies, unethical experiments, and fight deadly enemies. I was nervous at first when I heard there was a live action adaptation, but after the screening, my fears were unfounded and I enjoyed every minute.
Before the movie screening, Director Sori thanked all of the fans that could attend and expressed how nervous he was screening his movie outside of Japan. Due to FMA taking place in a 20th century European country, the characters are all featured as Europeans. A full Japanese cast did not distract from the story or setting and I see this as a good thing. The cast focused on portraying our favorite characters on screen and bringing the story to life. Ryosuke Yamada was the best choice to portray Edward Elric. I could feel his energy and enthusiasm through the screen! My inner fan-girl kept squealing whenever he and CGI Alphonse were on screen together. One of the best fight sequences on screen was the final confrontation between Lust and Col. Mustang. The movie gave the audience a reason to feel invested in the fight, and fans were just as excited to see this fight occur. The emotion and suspense as they fought had the audience screaming with delight. It’s an indescribable feeling when you see scenes from the anime played out frame for frame in a live action adaptation.
For an hour and a half run-time, the film covered a lot of ground for the Elric brothers. Much of the mystery and research done in the manga is greatly simplified in the movie. The brothers simply follow the breadcrumbs laid out before them. I wish the clues weren’t handed to them so easily, but I can understand why the director chose this approach in order to get to the action quicker. Speaking of action shots, the fights with the ‘Homunculus’ kept fans on the edge of their seats and even gave us a laugh in true FMA style. I will say I was upset with how quickly much of the plot progressed without many of the key characters such as Armstrong, Barry the Butcher, and Scar. Many characters played past their original roles to not overcrowd the cast. For example, Winry took the place of Armstrong when traveling with Edward to find Dr. Marco. Shou Tucker took on Barry the Butcher’s role in planting the seed in Alphonse’s head to distrust Edward, and revealing the truth behind Laboratory 5. The importance of the Ishval Civil War is barely mentioned in the movie, but it would have confused newer audiences and stuff the movie with too many sub plots. The plot does combine many elements from the series finale to give audiences a shocking final battle which sets up for part two in the future. I was disappointed in that particular choice, but it gives the director room to create a different ending rather than take the manga ending verbatim.
All in all I cannot wait for FullMetal Alchemist to be released on DVD for American audiences. I would recommend it to every anime fan, both new and old. It’s one more awesome addition to the FMA media and it has lived up to the hype.