Elric Brothers: Blood and Lava
When a previously unremarkable prisoner stages a dramatic escape with the help of alchemy, the Elric brothers are at the forefront of the action. Following up on this lea, the brothers are dispatched to the border town of Table City, where the native Milosians live in poverty, stuck between the powers of Amestris and Creta. With tensions high between all sides, can the Elric brothers hope to untangle a dangerous mystery relating to the past of both the town and its people?
In the preceding paragraph, I have attempted to succinctly summarise the plot of the second FMA movie, but I have to admit that I have met with limited success – if only because the writers themselves didn’t seem to be working to any coherent plan. Instead, the story tries to throw in as many conflicting factions as possible, such that by the time Ed and Al even reach Table Town, they’ve already encountered the aforementioned escaped prisoner, a wolf chimera and a rebel faction who glide around on special bat-wing suits. At this point, you could be forgiven for already being somewhat confused as to the overarching plot of the movie, but unfortunately, things get little better. In fact, by the time the film has thrown its full barrage of twists, turns and Flashback Modes at you, you’ll be struggling to remember what everyone’s motivation is, let alone why you should care.
Perhaps the most enduring imagery the film will leave you with, however, is that of the subtitle of this review – blood and lava – both of which appear in the movie in unbelievably copious quantities. As Ed and Al eventually discover, the villain’s ultimate master plan of evil relies on creating a massive 3D transmutation circle out of the flowing blood of sacrifices, and to that end, an unsuspecting minor character is stabbed to death. Now of course, the villain knows that the blood of one person isn’t going to be enough to fill a city-wide transmutation circle, but as it turns out, the blood of two people is plenty. From these two unfortunate victims (one of whom is able to somehow briefly get up again several minutes later), a veritable torrent of blood is produced, cascading through the pipes that make the transmutation circle in ridiculous quantities. Now of course I’m not suggesting that we should have sat and watched a ten minute sequence in which the villain ritualistically butchers a few hundred people, but even so, some things are too ridiculous not to be commented upon.
So that’s the blood, but where does the lava fit in? Well, towards the end of the movie, in true 2012 fashion, lava starts spewing everywhere and it’s up to our heroes to put a stop to it before everything and everyone they’ve fought to save is caught in its path. What this means is that whilst the villain of the moment pontificates and the heroes fight back, lava is gushing everywhere, and apparently the only way to stop it is to plug the source. Good advice, perhaps, except that the source appears to be an entire wall of molten rock. Never mind, though, somehow blocking a few spots with rock that doesn’t magically melt will do the trick. It looks a lot like trying to save a crumbling wall by throwing a few bricks at it, but this being anime, it does the trick. Oh, what the hell, I’ll stop trying to painfully explain it in words – here’s some imagery.
Strangely enough, given the usual lavishness of film budgets, the animation quality of this movie leaves something to be desired. So much time and effort seems to have been spent on detailing the scenery and backgrounds that hardly anything is left for the characters themselves. Perhaps seeing the film on the big screen simply exacerbated the problem, but Ed in particular seemed less sharply detailed than usual, whilst many of the action scenes took fluidity to the point of comical and lazily drawn. In contrast, the background music is at least of a high standard.
So, for all its flaws, is the film worth watching? Well, like most movies based on long-running series, it’s an average outing, the typical standalone story of familiar heroes versus a one shot villain, but unfortunately packed with a few too many twists, turns and ridiculous amounts of liquid substances. It might be fun for a single viewing, but unlike the FMA TV series, it’s not something you’re going to want to come back to again and again.