Like it or not, Fullmetal Alchemist is about to become the next manga franchise to get a live-action adaptation. The iconic series is set to release its first theatrical outing this winter, but some critics got to preview the movie early at a film festival. And, if their reviews are anything to go by, then Fullmetal Alchemist will not be the live-action project fans were hoping for.
Director Fumihiko Sori is the man in-charge of Fullmetal Alchemist, and stars like Ryosuke Yamada helped bring its stars to life. The film adapts Hiromu Arakawa’s beloved shonen series as Edward and Alphonse Elric go on a journey to become State Alchemists and locate a dangerous artifact known as the Philosopher’s Stone. Fullmetal Alchemist picks up where the manga begins, adapting its first arcs as the Elric Brothers meet up with the military and learn a bit about the shadowy Homunculi on the hunt for the Philosopher’s Stone. However, critics say the film may be a bit difficult for newcomers to get a handle on.
If you want to check out the film’s reviews so far, you can check out the slides below. Let us know if you plan to check out Fullmetal Alchemist should it have a limited screening in the U.S. Hit us up on Twitter @ComicBook or @MeganPetersCB to let us know!
"In a mildly steampunk world that resembles a militarized early 20th century Tuscany (the film was shot in Volterra), two young brothers dabble disastrously in alchemy in the action-fantasy Fullmetal Alchemist. Directed by Fumihiko Sori, the film is the first live-action version of Hiromu Akakawa’s popular manga series, which was published in Japan from 2001 to 2010 and was made into a 51-episode anime TV series for MBS in 2003/04. Massively augmented with advanced CG work that is a joy to behold, the film looks poised to sweep Asian markets beginning in December when Warner Bros. Japan releases domestically. But its exotically facetious tone, cultural confusion (Italy populated exclusively by the Japanese?) and reckless narrative gaps will keep newbies to the story at a distance." - The Hollywood Reporter
"The first live-action adaptation of the phenomenally popular Japanese manga created by female author Hiromu Arakawa proves to be a mixed bag of eye-catching visuals and uneven storytelling — rushed and choppy at times, and draggy and repetitive at others. Set in a fascinating early 20th-century alternate world in which two young brothers, both experts in the magical art of transmutation, attempt to rectify a calamitous experiment they carried out as children, “Fullmetal Alchemist” will initially attract huge local audiences when released on Dec. 1 but is unlikely to win viewers not already familiar with the source material or its numerous TV, video game and animated feature incarnations. U.S. release details are pending." - Variety
"Since it is, after all, a comic book movie (albeit a Japanese one), it is easy to find oneself drawing comparisons between Fullmetal Alchemist and American superhero films of the early 2000s. Back then, the genre was still finding its footing. It would not really start hitting its stride until the mid-to-late 2000s, when Christopher Nolan’s Batman films and the Marvel Cinematic Universe came along. Before that, however, fans had to endure a lot of stinkers, like Daredevil and Fantastic Four.
Unfortunately, the live-action Fullmetal Alchemist hews closer to Daredevil or Fantastic Four on the quality spectrum than it does anything in the MCU, even the abominable (pun intended) Incredible Hulk. The look of the main character, Ed, never rises above that of bad cosplay, while the production value of the film never rises above that of a TV movie, something you would see on Syfy. It almost seems unfair to hold the film to a Hollywood standard, when its budget must have been much lower, but Fullmetal Alchemist has an undeniably televisual look, which is somewhat shocking to see in a film given the prestigious opening slot at an international festival." - SlashFilm
"But every so often, a film gets it right in the strike zone—and for the most part, Fullmetal Alchemist is one of these. There are lots of little changes and abridgements—like the removal of the aforementioned Scar—that simplify the plot so that a story several hours long fits in a nice, little, hundred-and-twenty minute package. Moreover, these changes often open up the story to new possibilities that give the film it’s own unique surprises.
Likewise, a lot of the plot points that set up future developments are ignored in this film in order to make the movie feel completely stand alone. Sure, there could be more movies in the future (and they would connect just fine), but if there never are, this film won’t be the worse for it." - Anime Now