Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $34.98 US
Running Time: 104 minutes
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now
The definitive version of a movie that deserves the Blu-ray treatment.
It feels like ages ago when a group of anime-obsessed friends surprised me with tickets to see Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa on the big screen in one of my favorite theaters in Tokyo. I, like them, had followed the series on the small screen so when Ed and Al suddenly appeared on the big screen I was taken aback for but a split second before I applauded with the rest of the audience. That same feeling I felt then I felt the minute the new Blu-ray disc started spinning in our high-def setup.
For those who have picked this one up the Limited Edition version DVD, this Blu-ray release contains nothing new as far as features are concerned and that’s Ok because it’s the main feature’s crisp and vibrant Blu-ray treatment that is the real treat. The high-definition video and audio certainly does make a big difference in the quality. I can only imagine how good the original series would look if FUNimation released it on this format but let’s get straight to the review, shall we?
I should warn those who haven’t seen the television series or are still watching it because this portion of the review will contain spoilers. You see, this movie was meant to be seen after the final episode of the series seeing as it continues two years after the events of said series.
Having made the ultimate sacrifice for his younger brother, Alphonse, Edward Elric is stuck in our recognizable version of 1923 Munich, Germany during the country’s most volatile time. In the two years he has spent in a world that is not his own, Ed has been turning to science to find a way to be back on his old world and reunited with his brother. Interestingly enough, he has met alternate versions of some familiar faces … some of them even have the same names. For example, there’s a police officer by the name of Maes Hughes and a shop owner nearby bares the striking resemblance of Hughes’ wife. More importantly, he has partnered up with a young genius that looks a lot like Alphonse.
On the way to show off their latest collaboration, Ed and his Alphonse look-alike friend (named Alfons Heiderich) hitch a ride with a band of gypsies. One gypsy, named Noah sort of reminds Ed of somebody we met in the first episode of the series. It also seems that Noah, a palm reader who can actually read a person’s future, has been sold to some unsavory people in uniform. Stepping up to come to her aid, Ed rescues the girl and protects her by having her live with him and Afons. Unfortunately, all the locals are starting to see things in a new light thanks to a rising political party so gypsies aren’t exactly welcome.
Then, one day, Ed catches a glimpse of a man that looks suspiciously like the very man that turned his world upside down. Is the man in the back seat of the car the Homunculi the man they had all come to know as the Fuhrer Bradley? While the man turns out to be somebody else (a famous person at that), their meeting starts a chain of events that leads to an encounter with Ed and Al’s father, a transformed old foe that crossed over as well and even an old order connected to Adolph Hitler himself. You see, this organization is hell-bent on crossing over to the “promised land” they call Shamballa. In fact, they even found a way to open the gate and send armored soldiers through.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the gate, a 13-year old Alphonse Elric is still convinced his brother is still alive. Trying to figure out what to do to bring him back, the gate opens an armored infantry begins a mindless assault on a city. Al isn’t alone in fighting off the wave as returning favorites show up including General Mustang and Hawkeye. We even get to see Winry Rockbell and the return of Wrath who actually helps Al try to get Ed back to his own world.
I won’t spoil the events that lead to the gate opening again but I will say that Ed and Al do reunite as they face off against a woman named Dietline Eckhart who doesn’t just want to cross over to Shamballa but to destroy it. The reunion is one of those moments that will not fail to put a smile on any Fullmetal Alchemist fans’ face. There’s a massive battle to save their world as all the troops at Central Command fight back against armored enemies. It’s just unfortunate that Eckhart isn’t the most menacing villain the brothers have faced.
Many fans have said that they were disappointed by the fact that the movie doesn’t really resolve many of the things left open in the series. I, for one, wasn’t expecting to know what happened to Hohenheim Elric in the two years absence or why Riza Hawkeye left General Mustang’s side … despite the fact that she’s still crazy about him. What I wanted was to see Ed and Al together again and a story with all the elements that made us fall in the love the series in the first place. Fortunately, we do get that in this movie and yes it is packed with amazing action scenes.
Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa was made for Blu-ray and it shows the very second the movie begins on your HD screen. The movie itself is a fun ride that might not resolve all the issues left over from the series but it still manages to be a movie fans will certainly love and yes we will be watching it more than once. This price tag is steep but if I had a choice between getting this one on DVD or Blu-ray I would choose the Blu-ray version without hesitation.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
While leaving many questions still unanswered and featuring new enemies that aren‘t even menacing, Conqueror of Shamballa is still a great ride with more than enough memorable moments. As Edward Elric attempts to keep a mysterious organization from breaking through to his world, Alphonse continues his quest to save his brother. Plus, there are a number of appearances from returning favorites like Mustang and Armstrong.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
This movie was made for the Blu-ray format and it shows the very second the movie begins. You still have to put up with the awkward CG elements when the armored unit makes an entrance but other than that the animation is simply stunning. Even the extras look crisp.
AUDIO QUALITY: A+
It’s great to hear the original voice cast for both the original Japanese (Romi Park is still awesome) and the remarkable English dub cast as well (Vic Mignona is amazing as always). Michiru Oshima’s score is powerful and moving and you simply have to love how Blu-ray makes everything sound even better.
There are no Blu-ray exclusive extras but what extras there are in this package are still great. “The Making of Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie” is quite lengthy and informative but it’s the Japanese cast and the separate English dub cast audio commentary that is worth listening to while watching the movie. There’s even a Talk Session with voice actors Romi Park, Toru Okawa and Kie Kugimiya that’s fun to watch. Plus, there are loads of trailers including the original Japanese theatrical trailer for the movie.
Conqueror of Shamballa is an excellent Fullmetal Alchemist movie that might need exceed everyone’s expectations but it will not fail to entertain. It’s great to see Ed and Alphonse again and even more so on Blu-ray so if you missed the first release I highly recommend you skip the DVD copy and pick this one on Blu-ray instead.