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Edward Elric, the Fullmetal Alchemist, is on the other side of the gate. He has befriended someone who resembles his brother, Al, and has met a gypsy resembling Rose. He finds out that the Germans are planning on opening the gate, and attack the other side, which is Ed and Al's home. Although Al has learned a lot, he cannot stop all of them, and Ed cannot use Alchemy while in the other side. Ed tries to stop them, and Al just tries to be able to talk to his brother again, who everyone else thinks is gone.
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If you have never seen the original anime series 'Fullmetal Alchemist', I suggest you watch it before you see this film, as you will understand more clearly what these characters have been through and how the series is wrapped up in this film. Right now that's over, I have to say I am a huge 'Fullmetal Alchemist' fan, I started watching the series about the time the movie was released and have been a huge fan since. For those not familiar with the series, it revolves around the Elric brothers and their journey to find the philosophers stone in order to restore their bodies to normal after a failed forbidden alchemy attempt, the story is much more deep then that but it would take far too long to delve into. If you come across the series however I strongly recommend you buy it. This movie is a testament to the whole series and caps off the story beautifully. I should also clarify that this is a review of the dub, as I prefer to watch anime dubbed.
The characters are older and wiser then they were in the series, this allows for much more character exploration and brings out new sides to them which we never saw in the series. The best example being Roy Mustang ( Travis Willingham ), when he is first seen in the film he has been demoted, refuses to use alchemy and is a lot more humble, a far cry from the Mustang we know from the series. This gives a whole new persona to a well known and established character that audiences love, which is why the film is so successful, it is the same world and same characters we know and love, but they have changed drastically due to the events of the series, shedding a whole new light on the Fullmetal series as we know it.
The film uses the same actors from the series, which is great as I could imagine a few fans being a bit peeved if they were replaced. The actors do a fantastic job of keeping the same tone the characters had in the series, but changing them slightly to show how the characters have grown from the series too. This comes across especially by the two actors who play the two brothers Edward and Alphonse, these two characters have grown so much since the series and it comes across in the acting perfectly, you always feel what the characters feel which is difficult to do in animation. Although, it is not often I say this, but the entire film has been well cast and all of the cast do a fantastic job in their roles and it really shows on screen, usually in any film there is always one actor who is slightly disappointing, this wasn't the case with this film which is a rare treat.
The plot is well thought out and gives that sense of finality Fullmetal fans had been waiting for since the end of the series. The film ties up all the loose ends that the series left us with such as, Gluttony's fate, where Envy disappeared to when he crossed the gate and also what happened to Hoenheim when he too crossed the gate. Even if you have never seen the series the films plot can be enjoyed anyway as it is so well played out and acted it will make you want to watch the series. I am speaking from experience as I watched the film before the series. The whole tone and mood of the film is darker and more serious then the series at times which again gives an emphasis on the characters growth and gives some emotional depth to the story, as it shows the characters can't be as light hearted or optimistic as they were in the series, which is a big change to what the fans are used to but it is a welcome change indeed.
The animation is just beautiful, sometimes combining CGI with animation can look strange, but the animators did a fantastic job on this film, as CGI and animation mix together perfectly and creates some of the films most stunning moments. For example the Thule soldiers coming through the gate to invade Amestris or the many action sequences. Many animation studios are combining CGI and animation but can never get the look quite right and the end product looks odd, this film manages to find the right balance and uses it well and in the right amount, if it was over used it would just look too flashy, less is more and this film got it spot on. The character animation is still as gorgeous as the series and now they have had to change the characters iconic looks, the animators get to put that much more detail in to what they've created in the way of character and setting, everything about this film is well detailed and looks fantastic.
The soundtrack is just as good as the original series and the new ending theme, 'Lost Heaven' by 'L'Arc-en-Ciel', is catchy and you will want it on your MP3 even if you can't understand Japanese and can't really sing along. The music is consistently great, just as the series had it memorable tunes for certain moments, the film continues this trend and uses it to a certain degree, but not as much as the series, which does mean you may not get to hear some of your favourite songs from the series, but the films soundtrack is so good you won't really mind.
'Fullmetal Alchemist Conqueror of Shamballa' is a fitting end to a great series, with nothing to complain about other then it is the end of a great series, ( until Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is released anyway). This is a must for any fan of animation, anime or if you enjoy a film with a great plot, characters and bucket loads of style, then this is definitely a film you cannot miss.