Review: Fullmetal Alchemist (Live-Action Movie)

Fullmetal Alchemist, the Netflix flick. Quick reaction and some minorish spoilerish items ahoy:
Nowhere near as good as the original or Brotherhood, but that’s to be expected when squishing an anime from 50+ episodes down to a ~2hr movie. Folks who are not familiar with the anime will probably think it’s fine, but there’s a lot of major chopping that had to happen (and none of it came from Barry the Chopper, good old Number 66.) Couple that with some rather plot hole-riddled ending material and you get an OK flick.
Standouts for me included the character of Maes Hughes, probably the closest to the original anime as played by actor Ryûta Satô, and the character Lust, as played by actress Yasuko Matsuyuki. Kudos for having Lust being played by someone who was older than most of the other characters (she’s 45). That additional gravitas really pulled her together for me.
The special effects ranged from fantastic (Al’s armor was spot-on) to the laughably awful. Those goofy zombified creatures that fell from the roof at the end looked like they ran out of funds and had to rush it out the door, especially when they hit the floor and looked like jello in rubber socks. That one big eyeball they had was so fake that I felt it was like they made a thousand Mad-Eye Moody clones.
Ryosuke Yamada, who played the lead character Edward Elric, did fine with the exception of the prolific Pavel Chekov-like screaming. I understand there’s a difference between the English dub and original Japanese in anime, and since this is a subtitled Japanese movie I did expect the culture and acting to skew that direction. Sometimes I think Japanese folks need to let out a primal scream or two, so I wouldn’t begrudge them the opportunity.
I was pleasantly surprised by the filming on location in Italy. It did bring a nice aesthetic from the anime along with a Steampunk feel to the movie.
Is it worth two hours and thirteen minutes of your life? If you’re going for light entertainment and you’re aware of (and can forgive them for) the major changes they made from the anime, sure. If you’re with a bunch of anime fans you can laugh at some of the ridiculous stuff like Gluttony running at the floppy jello zombies and human soldiers with the fakest-looking teeth that moved around like tombstones on the set of Plan 9 from Outer Space. You know, Gluttony even looks a bit like Tor Johnson, now that I think about it.

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