published in Empire No.66, Sydney
Full Metal Alchemist - The Movie will be eagerly devoured by the large Western fan base who have followed the preceding TV series (also on DVD). Some anime movies which proceed the conclusion of a successful series completely depart from their narrative predecessor. Full Metal Alchemist - The Movie performs the complex task of extending - or rather, transforming - the series' events.
As with the TV series, the key relationship is between Edward Elric - teen alchemist - and his brother Alphonse - a hulking shell of an antique metal robot that has been fused with part of Edward's soul after the two attempted to employ alchemy resurrect their recently deceased mother. The laws of transmutation allow for alchemists to transform inanimate materials, but it is taboo to conduct such experiments with humans.
Full Metal Alchemist - The Movie thrusts the viewer onward from the demise of catastrophic events that concluded in the TV series, so viewing this film cold could be perplexing to newcomers. Plus describing too much of the plot would be a spoiler. Let's just say the film boldly shifts through parallel dimensions wherein exist multiple or simultaneous Eds and Als and those to whom they are connected. The film makes no concession for letting you know which dimension you are in at any one point, which makes things more exciting to track rather than confusing to follow.
The animation and dynamic momentum of Full Metal Alchemist - The Movie is of a superior quality and stages many dizzying set-pieces of degravitational effects and dimensional warping. But always imbedded in the film's undeniably spectacular effects are strongly resonant character arcs which anchor the story and its many tragic consequences. Lightening these darker aspects of the legacy Eduard must bear due to his taboo-breaking actions are the wonderful and imaginative ways in which the film is relocated to Germany on the eve of WWII. Even Hitler and Fritz Lang make appearances.