Full disclosure: I have read neither the manga, nor watched the Fullmetal anime adaptations. So I went into this Netflix original with no more information about this than what Netflix made available to me. I saw the trailer, the dieselpunk elements and figured I’d give it a go.
And boy, what a waste of my time this was.
For starters, if you are not familiar with the setting, you will not be able to get the complete picture because don’t expect them to provide proper background information.
It also doesn’t help that they tried to stuff the entire anime into one movie.
While some of the actors are doing a bang-up job, several of the lead roles are so badly portrayed it often feels like you are watching a bad soap opera. Especially the portrayal of Ed leaves a lot to be desired.
While Ed’s wig is definitely more suited to a low-budget cosplay, the costumes, especially the military uniforms, are pretty stellar.
Vehicles and military uniforms are distinctively dieselpunk, which is always a good thing. But they are not nearly enough to save this movie from its many faults.
For instance, it is never explained why all the transportation consists of old-timer trains and cars and why the military is so dieselpunk in both its look and the weapons they use. The uniforms are a fresh take on traditional World War II uniforms (sort of traditional uniform meets anime), but the transportation and weapons could have come straight out of a historical war movie.
I love that things are this way, because they are aesthetically pleasing, and without them the movie would have been a total loss, but, still, some explanation would have been nice.
The digital effects leave a lot to be desired, even more so than some of the actors’ performances and lack of backstory, however, the practical effects and Al’s suit are beautifully done.
In general, purely cinematographically speaking, this is one of the few strong suits of the movie.
It’s just that some of the computer-based effects and the story on the whole aren’t there, making this not worth your time.
Especially if you’re a fan of the manga or anime, you’ll cringe through most of it.
If you insist on watching this, and you are unfamiliar with the setting, at least read up on it on Wikipedia first. I guarantee you it won’t make the movie better, but at least it’ll make it less confusing.
If you want a good diesel-era manga/anime adaptation, watch the Kenshin movies.