Every time I ask someone if they plan to watch the live-action adaptation of “Fullmetal Alchemist,” I get the same response: the dreaded “ehhhhh” face. And it’s understandable! We’ve all seen some terrible live-action versions of our favorite animated shows or films, some of which we actively try to erase from memory and history altogether. However, I am here to tell you that “Fullmetal Alchemist” is NOT one of those awful films. Whether you’ve been a fan since the beginning or you’re just getting into the Elric Brothers’ story, here are three major reasons you need to give this film a chance.
The Special Effects
The number one hesitation I hear from people is regarding the special effects in the movie. And trust me, I went into this film nearly expecting the SFX to be terrible. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that most of the computer-generated content flowed almost seamlessly into the realistic props and aspects of the movie. And this included Al’s armor, which honestly shocked me. Of course, there are CGI moments that look 100% CGI, but it’s a FMA is a fantasy universe so that’s completely unavoidable. What’s important is that the SFX are tasteful and incorporated into everything well, which, as you can see below, is the case with this film.
Creativity With Plot Points
Another concern I’ve heard is about how the writers could manage to fit everything into a two-hour movie, and honestly…they can’t. There is absolutely no way to fit all the information that’s packed into the FMA manga and anime into one movie, or really even multiple movies. But the writers got creative and picked some of the most crucial plot points from the story to showcase in this live-action film and I am telling you it works.
Seasoned FMA fans may find themselves muttering “oh, they’re doing that now” throughout the film because the events do skip around a bit. But what’s impressive is that the story never feels disrupted or confusing – each plot point flows into the next, despite the gaps you might notice if you’re already familiar with Ed and Al’s story. Basically, it feels like they took a bunch of key scenes and cut out the filler that you’d normally see in an anime or manga series. And while it does leave a mild feeling of disappointment for long-term fans, it’s satisfying to see the story unfold with original plot points presented in a new way.
Character Choice and Representation
This is the one aspect of the film I was a little disappointed with, but that’s also a purely selfish opinion – if you get attached to secondary characters, you have to expect that they may not show up in adaptations like this. Hell, only a few of the Homunculi made the cut and they’re a huge drive in the plot! But, it’s important to focus on the characters who do show up in the movie rather than the ones who don’t.
Why? Because the characters who made the cut are portrayed incredibly. Ed, Al and Winry are all just as great as expected, but the supporting characters like Roy Mustang, Riza Hawkeye and Maes Hughes are downright phenomenal! Of all the characters, I think I was most impressed with Ryûta Satô’s performance as Hughes. He embodied the character in both appearance and demeanor. It made me fall in love with Hughes’s character all over again!
The one character I was surprised to see left out was Scar. Scar was a pivotal presence in the FMA universe, so seeing a live-action movie without him in it felt a little off. Not to mention his character design could have been amazing. But I have a feeling we’ll see him show up in a sequel at some point – the film set itself up perfectly for a sequel, despite how its ending aligned with the end of the anime series, and that can only mean that we will see even more beloved characters next time around!
Honestly, I don’t think anyone will ever be 100% satisfied with this film. No one is ever fully satisfied with an adaptation! But I can say one thing confidently: If you absolutely despised Netflix’s try at “Death Note,” you’ll enjoy “Fullmetal Alchemist.” Every fear, worry and trust issue you harbor because of a shitty live-action adaptation in the past will be quelled when watching this film. Even if you don’t agree with how the plot is designed, it’s pretty difficult to say that the film isn’t at least entertaining to watch. And that’s a big step up from some other adaptations.
So, if you’ve been putting it off, go pull up a seat and watch “Fullmetal Alchemist”! Whether you love it or hate it, I’m interested to hear what you think about it! Comment below or reach out to me on Twitter to let me know your thoughts on the Elric Brothers’ live-action adventure!