Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos

"Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos" might possibly be the very last thing in the Fullmetal Alchemist franchise that we'll see for a very long time.  This is a both a good and bad thing.  The first "Fullmetal Alchemist" anime is one of the best Japanese TV shows ever made in my ignorant Western opinion, and "Brotherhood" was... good roughly until I realized the story wasn't going anywhere interesting.  But its still one of the most successful and well-animated and most brilliant anime/manga/crappy PS2* game franchises ever.  On the other hand, I'm kinda glad its coming to an end, because let's be honest, "Fullmetal Alchemist" had its time, it shined beautifully, but we should resign it to just being a good memory of our pasts. Even "Dragonball Z" ended, even "Bleach" is ending.  And that's not a bad thing.  All things must end, and they're better for it.

"The Sacred Star of Milos" is actually not a bad swan song for a very good anime franchise.  The movie that you can best compare it to is "The Conqueror of Shamballa", which was just a huge mess and pretty much ruined the ending to the first anime**.  "Milos" does not try to tack on another ending to the story, instead it goes out of its way to avoid continuity, and can basically exist as an unspoken-of side adventure in either anime series.  Ed and Al are still looking for a way to get their bodies back, but this is after they learn that Philosopher Stones are (spoilers) MADE OUT OF PEOPLE (spoilers).  I think the movie, though, is fitting more towards "Brotherhood" continuity, but I'm not a big enough fan of this franchise to really care one way or another.  I don't think "Sacred Star of Milos" was actually released in any theaters here in the US, but the DVD is out now, and its available online for free on the typical anime sites... if you're morally questionable to watch it there.  Which I am.

Anyway, as a movie, its passable, really.  Don't expect this movie to be your grand entry into the "Fullmetal Alchemist" universe, and really don't expect the finest storyline yet out of this universe.  As a movie, its actually pretty mediocre, the plot really drags in the first hour as the story dumps a mountain of exposition on us.  Then the second half is just endless action fanservice for the fans.  Which is fine, I wasn't expecting a classic out of this, and neither should you.  Its just one final adventure for the Elric Brothers, one complete with a volcanic eruption, werewolves, an army of Batmen, mysterious masked villains, and one dude who knows most Ice and Thunder magic.  So its actually something of a fun ride, if just a tad messy.

For the purposes of this review I'll assume you understand something about "Fullmetal Alchemist", otherwise this is all meaningless to you.  By that, I mean, the movie, they do not explain very much about this universe.

The movie opens showing us this character named Julia Crichton who as a little girl is being wisked away from a Holocaust happening down in some valley someplace.  Timeskip, she's maybe twelve now, and her brother is doing Alchemy.  Then her family gets eaten by a Wolf Chimera (who I'll just call a "Werewolf" from now on because I can).  Wow, two tragic backstories in a row.  One more timeskip and we're in current time.  Somebody who looks like her brother is shooting Thundagas and Blizzagas all over the place using alchemical circles drawn on his palms out of blood.  Ed and Al run into him, fight a bit, and then discover this all connected to an extremely complicated political situation in a town named Table City.

While traveling on the train to Table City, things go massively out of hand in seconds.  First two acrobats try to dodge the customs agents, and they get captured immediately.  Ignore those guys, they're unimportant.  Then one chap in the front cars turns into a werewolf, so Ed decides to start fighting him.  Then a bunch of hanglinding dudes with bat wings appear and attack.  The hanglinders open up a compartment to rescue people and are shot dead on the spot.  Then Magic Hands attacks the Batmen, and the Werewolf attacks Magic Hands.  So the entire fight is this huge exciting clusterfuck with apparently five factions right off the bat.  The next hour of the movie is spent explaining just what is going on here.

I'll do my best.  Magic Hands claims to be Julia's brother, Ashley.  Their parents were bigshot Alchemists who had uncovered the secret of Table City.  The Batmen are members of the fallen Milos nation, which was first conquered by the Cretan Kingdom, and then by Amastris.  Their leader is this big boobed chick whose named I never quite caught.  Amastris and the Cretans hate each so the border is really hot.  Milos has some Philosopher Stones hidden underground, and Table City rests upon huge canyons built by the Cretans who torn the land up looking for the Stones.  Julia is working with the Milos people.  The local military commander is a dick, but there's also a Cretan base nearby staffed by this guy in a mask who keeps sending Werewolves out.  In the midsts of this complex political situation, the Milos people are trying to regain independence.  But also watch out, there's a volcano nearby.  So Julia, Ashley, the Batman all start a revolt in Table City attacking both local armies at once, and hoping to use the Philosopher's Stone to win ultimate victory.

I don't think I'm forgetting anything...  This is all stupidly complicated, and we still haven't even gotten into the twists yet.  I'm sorry if I'm not explaining the plot well, but this is one of the most complicated movies I've ever seen, and there is about a half hour of exposition.  I really just want to do the quick quick version.  Spoilers past here.

Okay, Ashley isn't actually Ashley, he's this evil army commander who murdered Ashley and tore the kid's face off and has been wearing it ever since.  He's been waiting ten years for some reason to get his plan finished.  So when the revolt reaches the top of Table City, Not-Ashley stabs Boob Lady in the back and uses her blood to start up the engine.  Table City is actually a giant engine designed to convert its population into a Philosopher Stone by sucking everybody in the underground portions into a huge pit and gathering up all the gore into a single object.  This is really cool.  Not-Ashley goes totally stir crazy, laughing like a freak for the rest of the movie because evil people are apparently really jolly.  Turns out Ashley and Julia both have tattoos with half the code to activate the death machine, so Not-Ashley rips off his own skin and starts up the thing.  I would have torn off Julia's skin, personally, but I'm not a crazy supervillain.  Also, a volcano is going off and the Milos people down in the valley are going to die horrible deaths by lava.  So Julia gets the stone first, rushes down the hill to stop the lava.

Is anybody even still following what the heck I'm saying anymore?  I'm more than a little lost myself.

Well, Not-Ashely attacks again, but he gets caught by the masked Cretan commander.  Guess what?  Mask Guy?  He's the real Ashley.  BOOM, TWIST!  Real Ashley also kills the shit out of Fake Ashley.  But unfortunately, the real Ashley is just as evil as the fake one.  Julia can't catch a break, can she?  Two brothers and each one is just as insane as the last.  This in the same movie that gave her two tragic backstories in a row.  Plus Ashley has a Philosopher's Stone in his pocket.  So its time for lots and lots of action to stop the lava and save the day, etc. etc. etc.  Luckily the action scenes here are amazing, and Julia keeps on losing more and more cloths.  Anyway, with the Elric Brothers help, the day is saved.

Okay, the biggest problem clearly is the plot.  Its too complicated, too much is going on, there's a twist too many.  This also drags the movie down because again, the first hour is nothing but learning what the plot is.  However, things are punctuated by some of the best action scenes in all of "Fullmetal Alchemist" history.  And the climax, again, is phenomenal.  Unfortunately, this also means this movie is two hours long, and it gets massively dull somewhere in the third scene of characters just talking.  Couldn't we have something a bit more simple?  Did we need two Evil Ashleys?  The Elric Brothers aren't even all that integral to the plot either, but I guess that's fine since this movie was supposed to be a light adventure for them.  If only the adventure were... lighter.

If you're a "Fullmetal Alchemist" fan, "The Sacred Star of Milos" is worth watching once.  Again, its a lot better than "Conqueror of Shamballa", and that's really all that matters.  There have been better movies based off of animes, but there also have been a lot more that have been a lot more.  (I'm thinking of you, "Eureka Seven: The Movie".)  But watch it for the action, watch to see the Elric Brothers in action.

Now, speaking of anime movies, when is "Evangelion 3.0" coming out?

* Fans of "X-Play" circa 2003 - 2006 (when it was funny and still entertaining), do ya feel me?

** Fanwank Spoilers:  It also killed of poor little Wrath for no good reason.  That was just cruel.  In fact, all the remaining Homunculi are wasted terribly, all to make room for some various lame Nazi villains, whatever.  I was expecting more out of Dragon Envy and Mutant Gluttony.  Totally lame.  Also, Ed and Al getting trapped in 1930s Germany?  Not my cup of tea, especially when there are very few places in history that you'd rather visit LESS than Germany in the next twenty years.

Really Off-Topic tip to time travelers/interdimensional visitors trapped in the 20th century:  stay out of Europe from 1914-1921 and 1939-1950, stay out of Japan from 1930-1950, stay out of Africa entirely, avoid the Middle East until the 1990s, Central Asia sucks, avoid China for the entire century, South Korea is nice after 1960 but North Korea will keep getting worse, Russia constantly invents new ways to be unbelievably depressing, India still has the Plague, Australia is getting secretly invaded by Pod People in 1931 and then again in 1974, Spanish Flu is coming in 1918, Mount Pelee is going off in 1902... actually, North America is your safest bet, specially Delaware.  Its the most boring place on Earth, nothing bad ever happens there.  Just watch out for Disco, the silent killer.

1 comment:

  1. Concerning Eva 3.0, if you're talking about the Japanese release date, it's 17th November. Can't say for the dubbed release, but it took 20 months for 2.0 to cross the ocean, and 26 months for 1.0, looking at an average of about two years. Yeah.