[FILM] Netflix’s Fullmetal Alchemist trilogy

Nothing’s perfect, the world’s not perfect, but it’s there for us, trying the best it can. That’s what makes it so damn beautiful.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

I don’t even know where to begin. To disclose, I am a hardcore fan of Hiromu Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood series. I love the originality of the plot, the growth of the characters and the synergy they had. I must also confess that the anime actually tops the list of my all-time favourite anime list and Colonel Roy Mustang is my favourite anime character of all-time.

So let’s just say that I was disappointed and even concerned when I heard news of the Netflix’s live-action movie adaptation. Anime is nice to watch precisely because its animations allow for insanely beautiful and wild alternate universes that just wouldn’t make sense even with the best CGI.

And I was right.

The Netflix trilogy attempted to squeeze 108 manga chapters into three 2hr-long films: Fullmetal Alchemist; Fullmetal Alchemist: The Revenge of Scar; and Fullmetal Alchemist: The Final Alchemy. You would have thought that the writers would omit some irrelevant parts and skip to the main action, but you’re wrong. This trilogy had the whole Nina incident (sobs), death of Maes Hughes by ‘Roy’, and even the iconic whole Father-absorbing-Sun scene that caught my attention when I was still very young.

To be lenient, maybe the adaptation of the arcs weren’t the worst crime Envy’s shot at the Ishval boy; it was the pacing. Not just in one but in all of the films, you’d notice that the film had almost no linkages between scenes. At one moment we are at Resembool and in the next scene, we are at Central – without having watched the anime or read the manga, it is utterly impossible to understand what is going on. The first film only covered up till Maes Hughes’ death and the second was just on Scar (and Greed so on). The entire Briggs arc and Promised Day arc were lumped in the third movie and suddenly the whole gang including Olivier, Sloth, Buccaneer turned up. While it was a heartwarming sight to see the reunion of this cast, I felt that the pacing could be better improved. Even better, have an entire film for Briggs.

But the films aren’t that bad. The mise-en-scene is stunning and the casting of Edward Elric (played by Ryosuke Yamada) and King Bradley (played by Hiroshi Tachi) were on-point and fitted the characters well. Meanwhile I found the actors for Roy Mustang, May Chang (it is like an adult playing a young girl!) and Winry Rockbell to be super off. The Flame Alchemist is known for his goofy demeanor but in this trilogy, he doesn’t even smile once or attempt to annoy Edward.

I mean…it is a show for the fans and not for serious viewers trying to explore the Fullmetal Alchemist story. It is a beautiful homage with excellent props, costume and setting but the pacing needs serious work. Not a film for fussy ones.

The whole trilogy is now out on Netflix.

Rating: 1.5 out of 3.

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