REVIEW: ‘Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood: The Sacred Star of Milos’ arrives on DVD

The Fullmetal Alchemist anime series is a rich, enthralling epic that includes many incarnations. From an outsider’s perspective, it can be difficult to figure out where to begin and how to learn the overall story. A nice entry point is the new movie The Sacred Star of Milos. The 110-minute feature provides enough backstory for the novice viewer and enough new material for the longtime fan that it proves to be an enjoyable experience.

The Elric brothers are back, missing limbs and all. This time they are led to a strange valley overrun by the Milos people, a population that seems burdened by exploitation and quasi-slavery. Their mission is to capture Melvin Voyager, a fugitive alchemist with mayhem in his mind, and free the people of Milos from their despair. Also helping the Elrics is Julia Chrichton, an interesting alchemist with the power to heal. Add in the myth of the Philosopher’s Stone and you have a full-out Fullmetal Alchemist movie.

The elements can become needlessly confusing, especially after the first 30 minutes when new characters seem to pop up every few seconds. As long as viewers are able to follow along closely, they shouldn’t get lost. And there’s a lot to appreciate in the plot. The Sacred Star of Milos is an engaging tale that features some dazzling displays of alchemy; the writers are able to get the audience invested in these characters.

The animation style is a little weak in parts. Close-ups of faces and the actual alchemy magic are cool. But when characters are at a distance they lose almost all features, becoming just bland blobs of color. It’s a commonality in many anime movies to lose the detail of backgrounds (we’ve all seen those crowd scenes where there’s the sound of hustling and bustling, but no one is actually moving). Because Fullmetal Alchemy is so dependent on its visuals, this lack of detail can be jarring.

The voice acting work is quite good, even if the script grows stilted in parts. The creators would have been better served by chopping off about 20 minutes to the overall duration. The Elric brothers are always good company, but the story of the Milos people grows a bit tiresome.

More than anything else, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood: The Sacred Star of Milos proves that this anime franchise has many superb directions to head in. In the world of alchemy, there’s a lot to enjoy, a lot to shine a light on and lot to destroy and build up again.

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com

  • Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood: The Sacred Star of Milos

  • Running time: 110 minutes

  • Rated TV-14

  • Rating: ★★★☆

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at Time.com, among other publications. E-mail him at john@hollywoodsoapbox.com

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