I should inform you that I wrote this review with a splitting headache, one which I endured after watching this train wreck of a live-action adaptation of the masterful Fullmetal Alchemist anime and manga of the same name. Being an avid anime fan, it proves difficult to be lenient towards the quality of the live-action adaptations when they turn over results ending up like 2009's abysmal Dragonball: Evolution or Netflix's atrocious American adaptation of Death Note. For the uninitiated, Fullmetal Alchemist originally began as a manga way back in 2001 where it was adapted into an anime shortly after its publication. The show was a huge hit in Japan and here in the states thanks in part to its engrossing story, the themes it touches upon and the cast of likable characters. I myself was hooked on the show and loved everything about it, so you can imagine how I felt when I heard that a live-action adaptation of the series was on the way. Disconcerting images flooded my head as to how this interpretation was going to look like after seeing how they butchered the live-action Attack on Titan film a few years ago. Even more concerning was when I heard Netflix, not Funimation, who originally held the rights to the anime before giving them up 2 years ago, was going to stream the film. At that point, I just lowered my expectations and took a shot in the dark to see how this film did. The film opens up much like the anime where we're introduced to the Elric brothers,
Edward and Alphonse, as we witness their natural talent for alchemy, the science of transmuting an object into another form of equal matter. The boys live with their mother, who sadly passes away leaving the boys orphaned. Alone and heartbroken, the brothers decide to bring their mother back through the use of alchemy but the process goes south quick, resulting in Ed losing his left leg and right arm and Alphonse losing his body completely with Ed sealing his soul to a set of armor. I only mention this because the film for some reason omits this important detail (one of many); shortly after this happens, the film immediately jumps ahead to where Ed is now working for the military and is a full-fledged State Alchemist. With his brother in tow, the two journey across the country looking for a
Philosopher's Stone, a legendary gem that can bypass the laws of equivalent exchange and help the brothers repair their bodies. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from Fullmetal Alchemist given the low-quality track record of live-action adaptations of popular anime titles Japan has produced in the last several years, and this is no different. The only two positive notes the film does right is that the cinematography looks great and the cast of characters aren't whitewashed but that isn't to say the actors that are here were the best choices. Sadly, that's only the touching point of the multitude of problems the film has but I'll point out the one that erred me the most: the story. The anime and manga series is well known for having such a rich story and detailed characterization, and instead of embracing the lore of the source material, the film for unknown reasons takes liberties with the original story and squanders it immensely. This isn't hyperbole; the film takes certain plot points from entirely different sections of the story and attempts to put them all together in two hours. The results are not only inconsistent but a smack to the face to long time fans. Whatever good the film did manage to accomplish, it's ruined by its' own abrasive attempt to be unique. Fullmetal Alchemist fans deserve better than this and to an extent so does the series. Avoid at all costs.