Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $34.98 US (Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack)
Running Time: 110 minutes
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now
The Elric brothers are back but this time they’re caught in the middle of a new bloody conflict.
When it first came out in movie theaters in Japan, I – alongside a number of Fullmetal Alchemist fans – was worried what Fullmetal Alchemist: Conqueror of Shamballa would mean for the story we have all come to love. Sure, the ending of the original series was left open but in this reviewer’s eye, it was a perfect ending to a perfect series. Thankfully, the movie was actually quite a success with a good story to boot. Several years later, we find ourselves not only introduced to the Brotherhood series but also another movie.
Fullmetal Alchemist fans, we found a lot to love about the Brotherhood version of the story of two brothers looking to right a wrong they committed out of desperation and love and you will find a lot to love about Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos, a full-length animated film that reunites us with the Elric brothers once again.
The story introduces us to the country of Creta that is set ablaze as its citizens are being shot dead by the military of a new regime. In the middle of all this chaos and death is the Crichton family who hurries to meet a military attachment waiting to whisk them away from their homeland as their daughter, Julia, watches her people die and curse her family for abandoning them. You see, Julia’s parents are talented alchemists doing important research that even Julia’s older brother, Ashleigh, sees as important. Unfortunately, one night, Julia and Ashleigh walk in on the horrific murder of their parent and suddenly life changes for Julia.
Several years later, back in Amestris territory somewhere near Central, Edward and Alphonse Elric are about to enjoy the festivities of the Harvest Festival when an explosion rocks the city. As a State Alchemist, Ed is compelled to look into the matter with his armored brother only to encounter a young man dressed like a prisoner. This is clearly a jailbreak but, as Ed quickly finds out, the young man also happens to be a talented alchemist as well and uses alchemy to escape.
Since they are considered witnesses, Colonel Roy Mustang and Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye have the Elric brothers investigate this unusual case. You see, the young man – named Melvin Voyager – who served four of his five-year prison sentence and about to be paroled when he decided to stage this prison break. His reasons might be connected to a newspaper clipping involving a girl named Julia Crichton who was arrested illegally entering Amestris territory via Table City.
So Ed and Al decide to hop on a train and head to Table City without even telling Colonel Mustang or even Winry Rockbell who shows up to look for Ed and Al. Meanwhile, on the train, Amestris soldiers spring a trap against Cretan spies onboard including a Chimera who goes up against Ed on the rooftop of the moving train. On top of that, a terrorist group calling themselves the Black Bats since they glide across the sky with black glider-like wings attacks the train and even Melvin manages to jump into the scene and use alchemy to rip open the prison walls to free Julia Crichton.
It is Alphonse who manages to save Julia when things hairy but when they both fall down to the valley below it is Melvin who saves them both. He also reveals to Julia that he is really Ashleigh Crichton … her brother who she thought was killed that night with their parents. Taking Al prisoner, the people living in the squalor are people that Julia knows well and is protecting. She also has a connection with the Black Bats, especially their leader who is a woman named Miranda. It is down in the valley that Alphonse comes to learn that these are the people of Milos who once inhabited Creta before the land was overtaken by the Amestris military. Now, Julia and a group of rebels are looking to overthrow their oppressors and reclaim their country.
Meanwhile, Ed ignores Major Peter Soyuz who controls the area with his Amestris troops along with the mysterious masked military commander. Ed makes it down to the valley where he finds who these people live and why they fight but with the Chimera attacking it is clear that they are after somebody. Once reunited with Al, however, the Elric brothers realize that Julia and her people are searching for the only weapon that could help them save their land.
This weapon comes in the form of a mythological sacred stone of Milos otherwise known as the Sacred Star or the Stone of Immortality. To Ed and Al, this stone sounds suspiciously like the Philosopher’s Stone and even more so when Julia mentions the Doorway of Truth that both boys are very familiar with and know well. Convinced that Julia and her people are pursuing a dangerous power that could result in the deaths of thousands, the Elric brothers decide to tag along in a final push to locate the Sacred Stone.
The result is an exciting and massive battle as hidden truths are uncovered and some shocking twists are revealed in the best way possible as things not only heat up but also gets downright bloody. In fact, The Sacred Star of Milos is quite violent, which makes the action scenes truly intense and this film certainly has its share of action and battles.
Then there’s the animation that looks absolutely gorgeous enough that you really do need to see this on Blu-ray. Everything from Table City to the action scenes look impressive enough that you feel like you are watching a major film rather than just an episode from the original series or Brotherhood. Add the great voice acting in the series such as Romi Park as Ed Elric in the original Japanese or the excellent English dub cast that reprise their roles (Maxey Whitehead now handles the voice Alphonse) and you have a great Fullmetal Alchemist experience.
My biggest complaint is more of a fan girl gripe with the fact that characters like Mustang, Hawkeye, Winry and even a super short cameo appearance of Alex Armstrong are brief to the point that they don’t play much of a role at all. Even though Mustang, Hawkeye and Winry head to Table City to aid the Elric brothers, their role is so minimal that they might as well not have showed up at all. Of course, this doesn’t distract from the movie’s overall appeal. It’s a great story and it is written well enough, realizing it is more of a side story rather than part of the main story scene in both TV series.
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos is a completely engrossing action-filled animated feature film that offers an adventure that makes us glad to see Edward and Alphonse Elric once again. While longtime fans of the series will be disappointed by the fact that familiar favorites don’t play a big role in this movie, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the story is intense and exciting enough to keep us glued to our seats. Fullmetal Alchemist fans, you do not want to miss this second and very engaging movie.
BLU-RAY/DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Years after the murder of her parents, Julia Crichton resurfaces and is arrested attempting to illegally enter Amestris territory and this action compels a prison inmate named Melvin to escape jail. Hot in the escapee’s trail, Ed and Alphonse Elric head to Table City where they not only meet Julia but also find out that she is a big part in a plot to overthrow the government that has enslaved her people. In the middle of all of this, however, the Elric brothers realize that Julia and Melvin are searching for a mythical sacred stone that sounds very familiar to them.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
Like the first FullMetal Alchemist movie, The Sacred Star of Milos is a visually stunning movie that does not fail to impress. Then again, what do you expect from talented folks at BONES? This is also a violent and bloody film that makes this a somewhat different FullMetal Alchemist story.
AUDIO QUALITY: A+
The original voice cast from the Brotherhood series is back and both the original Japanese and the English dub performances are simply outstanding whether it’s Maxey Whitehead as Alphonse or Alexis Tipton as Julia and the original score by Tarou Iwashiro is just as beautiful as the animation. Add the theme song “Good Luck My Way” by L’Arc-en-Ciel and the opening song, “Chasing Hearts” by miwa and you have a movie with plenty of ear candy as well.
This release of the movie includes both the DVD and Blu-ray versions and a few extras that come in the form of five theatrical trailers, web promos, TV spots, a few FUNimation trailers an audio commentary track that has ADR Director Mike McFarland speaking with members of the cast that include Maxey Whitehead, Colleen Clinkenbeard, Caitlyn Glass, Travis Willingham and Matt Mercer.
Also includes is a Fullmetal Alchemist: Making of Sacred Star of Milos feature that has Romi Park (the Japanese voice of Ed) and Rie Ouguiya (voice of Alphonse) take us through the making of the film from the production side to the animators and finally the voice acting recording. It’s a very interesting feature, especially since it is detailed enough that anyone interested in animation will find a lot to digest.
An intense and action-packed animated film, The Sacred Star of Milos is a different kind of Fullmetal Alchemist story and one that certainly deserves a place among your collection especially if you’re a fan of the series. Sadly, fan favorite characters are reduced to walk-on roles but with an exciting and well-told tale featuring the Elric brothers it is hard to complain and more so when the film is filled with more than enough memorable moments worth savoring.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment