This review is chock full of SPOILERS. Seriously, go watch this series already. You know you need to. Read at your own peril.
How does one turn a nearly 70-episode anime into a movie? The answer is you can’t. No one can. Brotherhood is over 25 hours long and overflowing with content. There’s no way for anyone to distill that into a two-hour movie. You have to cut, trim, and adapt storylines. Just look at the Hollywood adaptation of Ghost in the Shell—it took chunks from three GITS properties to make one muddled storyline.
Luckily, this live-action Fullmetal Alchemist is definitely better than Ghost in the Shell.
This adaptation hits all its beats. We have several gut-wrenching scenes from the anime acted phenomenally. And the actors and actresses are indisputably, perfect representations of their characters. Even Dean Fujioka was awesome as Colonel Mustang (He sang ‘History Maker’ for Yuri on Ice). Also, Ryuta Sato as Major Hughes is the best casting since JK Simmons as Jonah Jameson. The music is only here and there—why is Irish jig music used? The graphics are surprisingly great. Alphonse’s armor is incredible—I forgot it wasn’t real at times. The transmutations were successfully handled and innovatively imagined much to my splendor.
Now is this movie an alternate timeline? Yes. Am I still confused by its timeline compared to the anime? Oh, hell yes.
Hughes dies and the homunculus army appears 22 minutes later? That’s only a 40-episode difference in the timespan of one episode.
This anime adaptation swung and missed with its antagonists. The homunculi (Lust, Envy, and Gluttony) are great, but the two non-homunculi are wishy-washy at best. Our two human villains are Tucker and General Hakuro. Oh, you don’t remember Hakuro? In the anime, his name is General Halcrow. Oh…that still doesn’t ring any bells? Don’t worry, I didn’t remember him either and I binged both series in two weeks. General Halcrow is the guy Ed and Al saved on that train in episode 4 of FMA. Yeah…
Tucker’s motivations outside of creating speaking homunculi are simply ridiculous. General Hakuro masterminded the homunculus army and all of the philosopher’s stones. And to answer all of your questions at once, no, General Bradley is not in this movie. It perplexes me to no end. Having Bradley be the antagonist makes so much sense. And since they’re setting up a sequel (end credits scene), why not just make Bradley an antagonist throughout all the films? You know, like the anime did?!?! But to their credit, the ending is satisfying and in tune with the show.
If Ghost in the Shell is a 3/10, then Fullmetal Alchemist is a 6.5/10.
This is a pretty good adaptation that didn’t bastardize the source material. And I think this would make people consider watching the anime. I’m looking forward to the sequel, to say the least.