An unfortunate truth about the anime industry is that movies of long-running shounen manga are always trite and unremarkable: uninspired scenarios and forgettable guest characters being among the main reasons why. Though it's not surprising. Why bother thinking up an interesting plot when you know people will be drawn to the popular brand it's based on anyhow?
''Full Metal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos'' – based on the acclaimed manga - is no exception. It's a forgettable if somewhat serviceable adventure flick with some exciting action sequences and a lacking story. No different from the dozens of other films of this type.
It's a shame, considering the plot showed promise; but it's all pulled off too clumsily to ever turn into a satisfying experience.
The biggest problem is that the writing is sloppy. The guest stars (ie. characters exclusive to the movie) and central conflict are introduced in a hasty manner. The main antagonists in particular are too vaguely established to ever feel like a genuine threat, and that's not getting into the fact that some of their actions end up feeling counterproductive or that there's nothing stopping them before the Elric brothers arrive. Speaking of which, those two really feel like empty shells of themselves. Al feels more like a living plot device while Ed is relegated to being a generic action hero. Worse yet is that they shoehorn in fan favorites like Roy Mustang and Riza Hawkeye only to have their involvement amount to nothing. What the hell, Bones?
Meanwhile, the more successful elements (like the interesting setting) are underdeveloped or feel repackaged from the main series. The one exception being female lead Julia Crichton, who consistently plays an active role and has a solid character arc that mirrors the Elrics' in a cool manner.
Other positives are that the movie is solid in the audiovisual department. Though the offbeat animation style during fight scenes (reminiscent of ''Gurren Lagann'' and ''Tetsuwan Birdy Decode'') might rub some people the wrong way. There's also a conspicuous amount of still frames for an anime movie, though that's probably the price to be paid for going all-out during the elaborate action sequences.
Despite some good points, ''The Sacred Star of Milos'' is simply lacking when compared to its pedigree. Full Metal Alchemist has, in all its incarnations, garnered a large following because it's always pushed the envelope for what a fighting shounen can be. This film simply can't match up to that legacy.
overall score: 4/10
overall score: 7/10
overall score: 5/10