Fullmetal Alchemist (2017)

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The popular manga and anime, created by Hiromu Arakawa, comes to life in this pretty decent live-action adaptation driven by the performance of lead star Ryosuke Yamada.

When they were younger, Edward and Alphonse Elric were learning how to become alchemists. However, when their mother passed away, an attempt to use alchemy to resurrect her failed on all levels. Alphonse lost his body and in an attempt to save him, Edward lost both his leg and arm. Given metal prosthetics to replace his lost parts, Edward soon excels at alchemy and becomes known as the Fullmetal Alchemist with one thing in mind: revive the body of his brother, whose soul has been placed in a metal body.

Now a young adult, Edward has learned that if he can get his hands on the Philosopher’s Stone, he may be able to retrieve Al’s body. However, it is not going to be an easy task. Using clues, the brothers find themselves confronting a cultist who is believed to have a stone. However, when it is revealed the stone he holds is a fake, the brothers find themselves an ally in Shou Tucker, a bio-alchemy authority who offers to help them. However, two mysterious forces from the cult known as Lust, Gluttony, and Envy have been on a killing spree, hoping to stop the brothers from obtaining the stone. Will Edward be able to retrieve the stone and retrieve his brother or will he and Al fall under Lust, Gluttony, and Envy?

When it comes to live-action adaptations of Japanese manga and anime, they are both a hit and miss. Some hits include the Rurouni Kenshin trilogy and Blade of the Immortal. The misses include Ghost in the Shell and the atrocity that is Dragonball: Evolution. So where does this adaptation of Hiromu Arakawa’s beloved manga and anime lie? It is safe to say despite some flaws, it is a fun adaptation.

The driving force of the film lies in lead actor Ryosuke Yamada, fresh off his role as Shiota Nagisa in the two live action Assassination Classroom films, in the central role of the titular character of Edward Elric. With some great special and visual effects, Yamada delivers both the dramatic and comic aspect as Edward, whose intentions are clear and that is to get his brother’s body back. Atomu Mizuishi provides the voice of Al, whose CGI body is quite convincing as if there is an actual suit actor inside a metal suit. The chemistry between Edward and Al, in this case, human and CGI is extremely convincing and becomes the focal point of the film.

While the action is quite enjoyable, there are a few flaws that must be addressed and one major is that secondary characters have the tendency to come and go, which can prove to be extremely annoying. There also tends to be a bit of overacting on part from the villains Lust and Envy, played by Yasuko Matsuyuki and Kanata Hongo. Usually this would be expected considering this is a live action adaptation, but it’s more of a burden than a blessing.

On the upside, the action sequences are fun to watch. Seeing Edward use his powers against the likes of the cultist Father Cornello is a delight and even adds a bit of humor in the mix in the opening of the fight. The music of the fight brings to mind something you would hear in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, but the effects are nicely done as Edward fights his way through monsters with a created spear and gets help from younger brother Al. The rest of the action makes this film more watchable than other certain adaptations and help drive the film as well.

In the end, Fullmetal Alchemist is mostly positive with Ryosuke Yamada and Atomu Mizuishi having great chemistry as the Elric Brothers. However, a bit of overacting and constant coming and going of secondary characters may come to an annoying level and yet the action sequences are quite fun.

WFG RATING: B-

Warner Bros. Japan present at Oxybot Inc. production in association with Square Enix. Director: Fumihiko Sori. Producer: Yuimihiko Yoshihara. Writers: Fumihiko Sori and Takeshi Miyamoto; based on the manga by Hiromu Arakawa. Cinematography: Keiji Hashimoto. Editing: Chieko Suzuki.

Cast: Ryosuke Yamada, Atomu Mizuishi (voice), Tsubasa Honda, Dean Fujioka, Misako Renbutsu, Hanata Kongo, Yasuko Matsuyuki, Shinji Uchiyama, Jun Kunimura, Menjiro Ishimaru, Yo Oizumi.

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