'Fullmetal Alchemist' (live action) - Movie Review

A bit more than a decade ago, I worked my way through two years worth of an Anime series called "Fullmetal Alchemist" - which was based on a manga series. It concerns two brothers, Alphonse ("Al") and Edward ("Ed") Elric, who at a very young age lost their mother. The attempted to use alchemy to bring her back to life, and as a result, Ed has lost an arm and a leg (now replaced by automail - "robotics" to our thinking) and Ed ... well, Ed is just a soul embedded in a hollow suit of automail. He has no body at all. The anime is quite uneven, but at its best it addresses morality, brotherhood, family, war ... many issues, and often does it surprisingly well.

But this movie ... to my surprise, they nailed most of the visuals. Al's automail was probably relatively easy, but (admittedly more than a decade on) I felt like they nailed a lot of the characters too. And they filmed in Volterra, Italy (I thought it was Siena - they look very similar), a good match to the visual style of the original anime. But then they went and crammed the content of 51 20+ minute episodes into 135 minutes. And they tried to get everything in there. They dropped some stuff, but still packed in far too much and it all happened too quickly. It also works better as animation: it's a bit too absurd for real life (especially when it comes at you so fast), and in one or two spots becomes - literally - laughable.

A failure.