Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2010) is one of the greatest anime series I've ever seen. However, the original Fullmetal Alchemist TV series (2004) is one of the biggest fuck-ups ever produced, and the follow-up movie to that prototypal series (The Conqueror of Shamballa) is one of the worst cinematic abortions that was ever thought up for a purpose other than torturing enemy spies with extreme prejudice (and totally against the guidelines of the Geneva Convention). So where does that leave the newest Fullmetal Alchemist movie, The Sacred Star of Milos? Well, it takes place in the same universe as Brotherhood — so that's good — but Brotherhood had one of the most pleasing and well-written endings ever constructed... So I was a bit wary going into it because I was afraid that it might fuck with that finale, or, on the flip-side, I was also worried that it might just be a filler episode that takes place in the middle of the Brotherhood series, and thus have no tension or relevance in the grand scheme of things because we KNOW that every main character survives without any major physical or psychological damage because they don't show it in the rest of the series.
So now that I've seen it, what do I think of The Sacred Star of Milos?... I liked it, I really did, but it simply feels like an expensive fan fiction as opposed to a necessary film with a relevant and driving plot that moves the official story (or characterizations) forward with any real purpose. But like I said, I enjoyed it for what it was, and it was big (lots of characters' lives and an entire city's existence at stake, in the middle of a 3-way battle between two countries and a group of well-armed freedom fighters), and oh-so actiony and explosiony. The only issue I might have with it (beyond it not being pertinent to the whole FMA: Brotherhood mythology thing) is that you can't show this movie to a n00b if they've never seen the entirety of the 60+ episode Brotherhood TV show — NOTHING is explained about alchemy (how it works, its rules, or why it's important other than it looks cool in action) or about the main series' characters' histories and relationships. On the flip side, I have a complaint that nothing is discussed or even hinted at about why a war on this godforsaken borderland between two powerful countries is such a big deal in Father's master plan (not that Father and the homunculi are even mentioned, but this blood-soaked city obviously fits into his sick scheme, and it would have been nice to at least have had a reference to that important plot point as a wink and a nudge to us hard core fans). So not only is this movie inaccessible to people who've never seen FMA: Brotherhood before, but longtime fans aren't getting any bones thrown their way either. This movie is a total side story that doesn't truly please invested otaku or first timers... But it's still fun.
So what's Fullmetal Alchemist - The Sacred Star of Milos about, you ask? That's a pretty complicated question, but it's one of the things that I truly did love about the film. It's about a really convoluted plot having to do with a disputed city (Table City) that the countries of Amestris (the main nation that the series mostly takes place in) and Creta (the land to Amestris' West) are fighting over; the enslaved people of Milos (that used to occupy Table City, until both Creta and Amestris heard rumors that a Philosopher's Stone resided somewhere there, and began their war over the plateaued town); and powerful, never seen before electrical alchemists and uber-violent wolf chimeras fighting for either freedom or power, or both. This flick really keeps you guessing about who's doing what and why up until the very end. It handles the drama and mysteries extremely well, and the final battle is pretty damn exciting and satisfying without ruining the main FMA: Brotherhood TV storyline. Even though I knew Ed, Al, Winry, Mustang, and Hawkeye would survive this adventure in order to finish up their roles in the TV series, it still kept me riveted. Holy shit did Studio Bones learn their lesson from the fucked up trainwreck that was Conqueror of Shit-balla all those years ago...
Okay, so we start the movie off with a jail break in the capital of Amestris, one Central City, by a super powerful alchemist who had hidden his talent from his jailors for over 4 years, and only escaped when he had just a few months remaining until an early parole. The Elric brothers ("Fullmetal Alchemist" Ed, and soul-stuck-in-armor Al) try to stop him, but the escapee (a criminal known as Melvin Voyager) overpowers the boys and escapes. This leads Ed and Al to travel to Table City in the far West (by order of Roy Mustang) in order to find and recapture Voyager, and try and figure out why such a powerful alchemist chose to hide in a regular prison for so long before busting out when he did.
After one of the most violent train rides I've ever seen to Table City, the Elrics get caught up in yet another prison break, this time by the cute wanted terrorist known as Julia Crichton, a young woman whose parents were strong alchemists who had discovered new forms of the science of equivalent exchange which was thought to lead them to a new Philosopher's Stone. Julia escapes the Amestris military police and a bunch of werewolf chimeras with the help of Voyager and the underground army known as the Black Bats; and by saving her life in the rush of events following the jail break, Al ends up getting captures by the Bats andhe eventually finds out just what everybody seems to be after — a secret that the fought-after city in the West has kept hidden since its founding.
Yeah, that's all I'm willing to tell you about this movie, and that's all stuff from the first quarter of its runtime too, so you're hardly spoiled. This story is HUGE, complex, and full of lots of twists and turns... Stuff that's so much more fun to experience with your own eyes as opposed to an asshole reviewer ruining it for you for the sole purpose of being a dick. I am not a dick when it comes to GOOD anime... Only bad shit. If a show or movie is godawful then you can bet your ass that I'll ruin its "plot" in order to keep you from suffering through it too. Whatever.
Okay... Past that (it didn't add anything to the FMA: Brotherhood plot, yet it was big, it was complex, and it was fun) the only other thing I really want to say about The Sacred Star of Milos is that it takes a while to get used to the new character designs and animation style. The designs are less sharp, and a lot rounder than they are in Brotherhood (or even the original series), and the animation style is a whoooooole lot rougher (meaning when the action really kicks in, and things go absolutely ballistic with bodies and projectiles flying around all willy nilly, the animation speeds up, but the quality of the drawings takes a nose dive and a lot of detail is left behind in order for the animators to use more frames but not more time). It's only slightly distracting for a little while, but you get used to it soon enough. Kind of.
Well now... That wasn't altogether unpleasant. I was worried that a movie based on a famous anime TV show would be forced to fall under the "shounen series movie curse." You know what I'm talkin' about... When a shounen fighting anime has a movie made that's obviously filler, it's the same story over and over again. That story being the main character and all his friends team up to fight a new evil that we've never seen before, and each friend goes up against their own equivalent in the bad guy's army, and the big bad has a giant showdown with the main character, all the good guys win, and then the bad guys are never heard from again in anything considered canon.
Here though, it was just an action adventure story with a good plot and fun characters... What more do you want? Ninjas? Well, those Black Bats kind of look like ninjas, and they kind of fly and shit. Pirates? Well, no real pirates in this thing to speak of. Nobody with parrots at least. Sex? Sorry, not that kind of movie. Guns? LOTS of guns. Lots and lots of guns. Death? Destruction? Dismay? Yes, yes, and HELL yes. This movie is very violent, and very disturbing at times. It was pretty cool.
Bad ass, my brothas. That's the best way to describe this movie: Bad Ass. The Brotherhood TV show really tickled my taint, but when I heard about this follow-up project I feared for the worst, but for once my fears were strickly honky-tonk wash.
......What? I fuckin' liked this mothafucka. What more do you want, bitches? Watch it, then tell Malcolm just how awesome he is. I'll jus' wait here.