Fullmetal Alchemist started as a manga featured in Monthly Shonen Gangan in 2001. To date, it has run 27 volumes spanning the adventures of Edward and Alfonse Elric as they seek the Philosopher’s Stone.
Since its inception, Fullmetal Alchemist has become one of the manga greats, spawning physical merchandise, an anime (naturally), more books, and even a card game. What’s left after all of that? What do you give the series that has everything? Warner Bros. believes it has the answer: a live action film. Here’s the most recent official trailer.
Director Fumihiko Sori presents Fullmetal Alchemist as the story of two brothers fighting to overcome cruel circumstances.
“There was a bond that I wanted to show… I was able to tell this story of two strong brothers who are attacked by destiny and the cruelty of nature without mercy with the best cast and the best staff.”
Voice actors for Ed and Al (Romi Park and Rie Kugimiya, respectively) both comment on the film bringing forth a “new” Fullmetal Alchemist. The trailer depicts a fight between the brothers, multiple shots of their travels, and plenty of danger and mayhem. But more than anything else, this movie is about emotion.
With 27 volumes of material to work with, the manga conveyed a sweeping epic. There’s no way it can all be translated into a 90-minute experience, which is why Sori chooses to focus on drama. The destruction and battles in the movie occur as reinforcement or as a result of human interaction. The major risk, then, is having situations come off as cheesy or superficial and leaving the audience feeling let down by the lack of integrity.
The history of game/manga live-action adaptations is not on Sori’s side, and it’s easy to see how it can fall apart by seeming forced. Take it lightly and see it as a salute to the series rather than as an attempt to represent it. That’s the key to being able to enjoy an adaptation in any form.