FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: THE SACRED STAR OF MILOS
(Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Mirosu no Seinaru Hosh)
I was not previously familiar with the Fullmetal Alchemist series, which placed me at a disadvantage in watching the film. The Sacred Star of Milos is certainly made for the fans of the series and makes no concessions to anybody outside of that in terms of explaining who the characters are and anything about the alternate world we are in. The film has undeniable potential and the characters are interesting I liked the basic concept of the automail and the character of Alphonse whose soul has been transferred into a suit of armour. Not to mention that the two brothers are named Elric, which surely indicates that the creators have been reading their fantasy and have namedropped Michael Moorcocks most famous character Elric of Melnibone (who should surely be due a film adaptation any day now).
I also ended up disappointed with The Sacred Star of Milos as it seemed not hugely different to the usual cliches of anime. For one, I had a problem with the films basic concept. Traditionally, alchemy is a pseudo-science that was a precursor to modern chemistry where various philosophers experimented in an effort to transform base metals into gold and find the secret of immortality. In the film however, alchemy appears as no more than an all-purpose magic that allows characters to do the regular anime standards of exchanging power blasts and creating vast forms out of thin air, none of which was ever associated with traditional alchemy.
The Sacred Star of Milos feels like a film awkwardly caught between being a cinematic feature and a spinoff from the tv series. On one hand, the characters remain drawn in the same limited they were on tv, while on the other the animators are constantly leaping in with the epic-sized anime and spectacles of mass destruction that the bigger budget allows them. What we end up with is a film that stretches to the colossal-sized, yet features characters running around that look as though they have barely gotten out of grade school. It feels like a film caught between trying to be two mismatching things.
The quality of the animation is okay but has certainly been bettered by other anime of recent. The run of power blasts and so forth is okay but there is the overriding feeling that one has seen it all before. There is one good action scene as the brothers arrive in Table City, which begins on a train with the outlandish image of it being attacked by people in flying black bat costumes and a man in a suit who abruptly transforms into a werewolf something that immediately makes you wonder what is going on and ends with a chase and fight across the roof of the train and up around the struts of the city walls, with Edward manifesting flows of ice and Alphonse trying to save Julia in one hand as they fall off a cliff. The film does eventually reach an impressively sized climax with the various characters trying to fight off a flow of lava and save the three cities.