I was on Netflix last night to catch up on the latest episode of Black Lightning. The main banner after logging on showed Fullmetal Alchemist. Thinking it was for the anime I was about to move off it, when the trailer for the live action film started. I knew that Netflix was releasing it, but not expecting it for another couple of months I was pleasantly surprised. Was I still in the same mood after watching the film?
I’m still a novice when it comes to anime, and my opinion of what few live action versions I’ve watch are, shall we say, mixed. As long as you consider bad and terrible to be mixed. Now, in full disclosure, I’m a big fan of both versions of the Fullmetal Alchemist anime. So, much doubt will be benefited. As always, this is a list of my thoughts after watching the movie.
In a world where Alchemy is the main science, two young boys attempt to resurrect their dead mother causing one to lose a leg and arm with the other’s soul being bound to a suit of armour. Ed, the elder brother, has become a state alchemist in search of a philosopher’s stone so that he can get Al’s, the younger brother, body back.
The film mainly follows a truncated version of Part 1 of the Brotherhood Anime. Even though certain characters are missing, neither King Bradley nor Scar feature, all of the main themes are present. This necessitates some plot changes, mainly along the lines of who does what, and they are necessary to keep the plot moving at a pace.
If anything the plot moves too quickly. There were a couple of times where I thought to myself “how did we get there”. I think that they tried to do too much in a two and a quarter hour film. It becomes very bity in places, and some characters are short changed (especially the females). There are a couple of plot points I would have dropped, and I would have used that time to let the characters develop. If you don’t know the source material, the homunculi especially come across as very one dimensional.
I liked the look of the alchemy effects. Yes, some in the middle of the film, could have needed more work texturing. I think that the fights were too dependent on the effects, and were missing a certain grace that you get in the anime. However, the first sequence is a great hook for the rest of the film. I also really enjoyed the scenes at The Gate of Truth, but the less we talk about Gluttony chasing the soldiers the better.
As I mentioned before, the early milestones are all present. Shou Tucker still isn’t father of the year, and Maes Hughes… Well, we know what happens to him. I’m still affected by both storylines, and both Yo Oizumi and Ryuta Sato deserve plenty of credit.
Overall, I enjoyed the film. It is far from perfect, but I wouldn’t be embarrassed showing it to friends who don’t know the anime/manga. It may be a low bar, but it was far better than Tokyo Ghoul, Attack on Titan, or the recent Death Note. I don’t want to say that it was average, but I think you could use it as a starting point to get someone interested in the story.
The ending isn’t definitive, so in theory they could make a sequel. I need want to a real life Alex Louis Armstrong…