Tag Archives: military

Fullmetal Alchemist (2017 Movie)

Netflix/Warner Bros./Oxybot Inc./Square Enix

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric find their lives forever changed when their childhood attempt to use alchemy to resurrect their mother ends tragically, with Ed losing a leg and an arm and Al losing his body entirely–only Ed’s quick thinking and sacrifice binding Al’s soul to an old suit of armor in the house. Years later, Ed has become an Alchemist for the military in order to access their resources, and the brothers travel the country searching for the Philosopher’s Stone, the one thing they are convinced will help them get their bodies back. But stranger and larger forces are at work in the country, and the two find themselves treading into murky waters, thick with government intrigue, homonculi, and people who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.

First of all, thank you Netflix for making this available in the U.S.! Secondly, I have seen such a polarized array of reviews that I feel I need to write my own review in two sections–the first discussing who should and who shouldn’t watch this movie, and the second discussing what I personally enjoyed and my general impressions of the movie. You should know before going into this that Fullmetal Alchemist is a Japanese live-action movie based generally (not precisely) on the manga and anime series of the same title. It’s not exactly the same story, so don’t expect that; rather it is an adaptation of the story crafted to suit the live-action movie format, and I believe it does that very well. Also, it’s Japanese–Japanese actors, Japanese language, subs only. Moreover, the acting style and the humor shown here are very Japanese–tastefully done, but stylistically distinct, so if you don’t like that, pick something else to watch. But if you’re interested in a creative, well-cast, cinematically gorgeous adaptation of this beloved story, Fullmetal Alchemist (2017) may be worth your checking out.

For myself, I truly enjoyed this movie a great deal. I felt like the cast was chosen well and portrayed their roles excellently. The acting was very well done, keeping the darkness and tension of the story present, but balancing it with appropriate humor, friendship, and hope. Again, since this is an adaptation, certain characters don’t come up at all, and others don’t get as much attention and screen time as they might in a different format; however, I felt like the characters they chose to focus on and the way they wove their stories together told the story well and kept distractions from the main storylines to a minimum. With the plot itself, again, they adapted it, taking pieces from both Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, while also doing some things unique to this particular movie, but I felt that the story they chose to tell was crafted well. Additionally, the ending point is conclusive enough for me to be okay leaving it there, but it leaves things open enough for the possibility of a sequel. . . . We can hope, right? Visually, this movie is absolutely stunning. The countryside where this was filmed is just gorgeous–a lot of it shot in Italy as well as some in Japan. The CGI is also incredible, like, seriously breathtaking. And the music is really beautiful as well, quite suited to the sweeping beauty of the country. My only minor complaints are that I would like a little more Al cuteness and open brotherly bromance (both of which are there, I just want more), and I could do with less fiery violence at the end (although that’s an important part of the big finish, so it’s kind of excused). But seriously, I was very impressed with the 2017 live-action version of Fullmetal Alchemist and would recommend it to anyone who likes Japanese live-action films and who isn’t going to nit-pickingly compare this to the anime, because if you’re that person, you won’t enjoy this. At all.

Written by Hiromu Arakawa/Directed by Fumihiko Sori/Produced by Yumihiko Yoshihara/Screenplay by Fumihiko Sori & Takeshi Miyamoto/Music by Reiji Kitasato/Starring Ryosuke Yamada, Atomu Mizuishi, Tsubasa Honda, Dean Fujioka, Ryuta Sato, Jun Kunimura, Fumiyo Kohinata, & Yasuko Matsuyuki

 

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Wild Magic

Author: Tamora Pierce

The Immortals, vol. 1

Ever since she was little, Daine has had a talent for dealing with all sorts of animals–some might even say a gift, although she’s surely not magically Gifted in the normal sense at all. When she is forced to leave her home, she finds her knack for animals to be quite useful, landing her a job helping the trader Onua transport a string of ponies to the Queen’s Riders in Tortall. Only, their trip goes anything but smoothly as they encounter half-human, half-bird monsters–monsters that were supposed to have been locked away in the Divine Realms 400 years ago. They do reach their destination safely, however, and Daine settles into the routines of caring for the ponies, helping train new recruits, and studying animals and her own connection to them with her new tutor, the master magician Numair. But trouble is looming on the horizon, both for Tortall and for Daine, and it’s only a matter of time until the storms break.

I might have mentioned this before, but I absolutely love Tamora Pierce’s books, and Wild Magic is no exception. The story itself is intricate, well-paced, exciting, and fun–I think I finished it within 12 hours of starting, even with a full night’s sleep fit in the middle. I love that Pierce set this in Tortall and brings in numerous characters from her “Song of the Lioness” quartet (see vol. 1, 2, 3, & 4)–it’s a treat to see George, Alanna, Thayet, and the others again! The new characters introduced in this book are wonderful as well. (I have a feeling Numair is going to be a particularly interesting wild card for this quartet.) I think the blend of fantasy, internal struggle, political intrigue, action, and just plain fun is balanced nicely; the story moves and is very enjoyable. Plus, I love all the animals, especially the ones like Cloud (Daine’s horse) who are full of attitude! I think Wild Magic is a great option for anyone who likes a solid fantasy novel, especially for those who like Pierce’s other books.

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Take Me Tomorrow

Author: Shannon A. Thompson

While the world around her is definitely governed by tight rules and torn by the effects of the government’s war against the clairvoyant drug tomo, Sophie’s life is relatively stable, or so she thinks. Sure, her dad makes illegal weapons in the basement and she doesn’t know much about her friends’ past, but that’s never particularly bothered her–it’s just the way life is. Or was, until a strange, unpredictable boy with flashing green eyes rushed into her life, unsettling her emotionally and dragging her headlong into a drug war she hadn’t even know existed just a few days before.

When I read Take Me Tomorrow, I was gripped and impressed by how intense it is, not just in terms of action but also in emotional impact. This story deals with a number of difficult, even controversial, topics in a thoughtful way, while still leaving the conclusions up to the reader. The characters are vivid and thoroughly developed–I love the attention to detail that is placed into each of them. And while I’ve never been to the middle part of the United States myself, I found myself instantly picturing the location while not being overwhelmed with unnecessary description. The balance of action, angst, and romance was maintained nicely, and the pacing with which Sophie’s story unfolds is masterfully done. I would recommend Take Me Tomorrow to anyone interested in a thoughtful, exciting dystopian story.

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The 5th Wave

Author: Rick Yancey

Cassie (short for Cassiopeia, of course) isn’t sure, but she might be the last human left on earth. Certainly, she’s all alone in the midst of the wreckage of humanity, post alien invasion. Not, as you might expect, and invasion of little green men, but instead of disaster, disease, and distrust, stripping people of their humanity and transforming them into killers. When she finds her life saved by attractive, kind Evan, Cassie must decide whether she’s willing to trust again. Definitely one of the toughest decisions of her life–and one that might cost her life if she chooses wrongly.

The 5th Wave was quite an experience to read. Chilling, frightening, intense, yet warm in unexpected places. The science fiction concepts are well executed, making the story not so much about what the aliens are as about who we are as humans. The multiple points of view help to reinforce that idea (although I personally found the boot-camp scenes less than fascinating, but that’s just me). Yes, there are elements of this story that are a bit Stephanie Meyer-like (although I would compare them more to The Host than to Twilight); however, they aren’t the main focus of the story. Overall, The 5th Wave is a well-imagined, revealing science fiction story that I would recommend, at least to those who enjoy that genre.

Warning: Cliffhanger ending. I’m expecting a sequel (which would be typical for Yancey), and I will be very disappointed if there is none.

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