I just rewatched this movie for the first time in a long time.
Since last viewing it, I have rewatched FMA 2003 several times, so the
series was fresh in my mind when I viewed the film. This movie kept me a
lot of company when I was younger. I loved it to death, watched it tons
of times. I was eager to see how well it held up, now that I’ve started
judging things more critically. Unfortunately, as predicted, it didn’t
hold up nearly as well as the original series did, and doesn’t come
remotely close to reaching the same quality.
This movie had a lot of great ideas to play around with. It had great
animation, a solid opening act, a great dub, and was well-directed. The
new setting to explore was interesting and had a lot of potential, some
of which was lived up to. Even so, the movie had a lot of issues.
Characters were not fleshed out enough, and several things that happened
felt weird and had a lack of emotional payoff as a result. Some
mechanics felt flimsy and really stretched believability. The villain
was poorly developed. The movie also didn’t further the original series’
themes in any notable way, making its purpose for existing even more
questionable. Even some of the characters carried over from the original
series didn’t feel at home in the movie, like they belonged or had much
to contribute; they weren’t done much justice. All of this adds up to a
severe lack of tension in the climax, and a lack of general payoff.
Overall, as predicted, the original 51-episode series is much better
off without this movie. Shamballa was an unnecessary sequel, and it
doesn’t do too well in justifying its existence. If you’ve seen FMA 2003
and are curious about this movie, I wouldn’t necessarily say to avoid
it. There are certainly good things about it. Just don’t go in expecting
something of the same caliber as FMA 2003.