Fullmetal Alchemist Movie 2– The Sacred Star Of Milos (Cert 15)
1 Disc (Blu-ray) 2 discs (DVD) (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 111 minutes approx.
During a night of celebration in Central, a criminal named Melvin Voyager breaks out of prison using an unusual combination of lightening and ice alchemy. The Elrich Brothers, Edward and Alphonse, are first on the scene and give chase but Voyager evades them. Further investigation shows that Voyager only had a few months left on his jail term and that he is somehow connected to a young girl Julia Crichton, who was arrested for illegally entering Table City, a remote place set in the border between Amestris and the land of Creta. The Elrich’s pay a visit to Table City when Julia escapes from custody with the aid of a group of aerial freedom fighters known as the Black Bats. The Elrichs become involved and discover Milos, an underground slum beneath the trench on the Amestris/Creta border. The Milosians are fighting for independence from the Cretans and the Amestrain military, believing their only hope is the Sacred Blood Star, which to the Elrichs sounds suspiciously like the Philosopher’s Stone.
This feature length tangent from the FMA: Brotherhood series sees the Elrich Brothers head to hitherto uncharted territory in this tale of political and mystical intrigue. Scoring big at the Japanese box office, it continues the great success of one of the more enduring franchises of the modern era, delivering a solid slice of fantasy action which is very much true to the FMA spirit even without the involvement of FMA creator Hiromu Arakawa. While Studio Bones once again handles the animation, the artwork is subtly but noticeably different from the other FMA works, taking on a slightly “looser” style, yet after a while one soon gets used to it and everything feels just like normal.
The story possesses many facets to keep things moving at a brisk pace, building up quite a background for the supporting protagonist for this one off shot, Julia Crichton. The daughter of two alchemists, Julia and her older brother Ashley were originally from Creta until their parents were killed for being traitors and Ashley also disappearing during the massacre. With the rest of the surviving Cretans who formed Milos, Julia became part of the resistance group fighting against Creta and Amestris, the former forcing the Milosians to dig a trench in search of the Sacred Blood Star, which the Cretans also use to dump their rubbish in. Part of the resistance group are he Black Bats, skilled fighters who use a bat winged shape kite to execute aerial attacks on the enemy. The group leader, Miranda, is the one who sanctioned the search for the Blood Star before the Cretans get to it, resting all her hopes of independence on its recovery.
And if military oppression wasn’t enough, the Cretan general Herschel sends his army of Chimera wolves to hunt down Julia for reasons which are finally made clear in the film’s final act, and while they prove to be tough competition for the Milosians they are lucky to have the Elrichs on hand to help defend themselves against these lupine attacks. And what of Melvin Voyager and his interests in the seemingly popular Julia? The first of many twists arrives when he reveals himself to her and becomes a part of the revolution, but the canny senses of the Elrich’s may just prove to be right about the suspicions they hold about him regarding his unique alchemic powers.
With so much going on patience and attention is required whilst watching this film yet it comes together neatly enough with its string of clever swerves to not prove too confusing for the viewer. As a standalone outing this can be viewed without fearing any repercussions on the main Brotherhood, whilst it is careful to contain enough references to fit right in with said diegesis. Ultimately though this is an independent adventure, made all the more clear by the lack of presence of the regular supporting cast, save for the odd and often ineffectual cameo. Roy Mustang, Riza Hawkeye and Winry get the most screen time, along with a very quick hello from man mountain Major Armstrong, but their contributions are minor. This however allows time for the new characters to establish themselves with the audience and create a strong enough bond to invest in their plight, thus making their sacrifices and triumphs more palatable rather than run of the mill outcomes one might expect to see in a movie spin off.
Action wise, the scrapes come thick and fast and are handled with all due competence from the animators despite the less detailed character designs. Aside from a few earlier spots of credibility stretching contrivance during the chase of Melvin Voyager (people flying though the air or towards a cliff edge in peril and managing to grab onto a handy construction or lifeline at the last second, etc), the fight scenes are very well animated and bristle with electricity and energy in keeping with the high standards of previous FMA output. And with the regular voice cast (both Japanese and English) returning once again to fulfil their vocal duties, this film earns its spot as a legit addition to the existing FMA catalogue. The only thing that is noticeably absent here is the humour – although since most of that is aimed at making fun of Edward’s small stature and his exaggerated reactions, such scenes would have been possibly more incongruous here than they are in the TV shows. To that extent they are – for this reviewer at least – not exactly missed.
It’s hard to imagine that any fan of the Elrich brothers would be disappointed with The Sacred Star Of Milos as it delivers the same high standard of kinetic action, intelligent storytelling and inventive fantasy escapades we’ve come to except from this popular franchise. And as this gets a good looking HD treatment on Blu-ray (also available in double pack with the previous FMA film Conqueror of Shamballa), recommending this title is a no-brainer.
Dolby True HD English Language 5.1 (Blu ray)
Dolby True HD Japanese Language 5.1 (Blu ray)
Fullmetal Alchemist: Making of Sacred Star Of Milos
US Cast Commentary
Ratings – Main feature **** /5
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