Objection! This single phrase has made an icon of itself in the video game community, belonging to everyone’s favorite defense attorney Phoenix Wright (or Naruhodou Ryuuichi in the Japanese games). His whole life has become somewhat of a drama, filled with murders, theft, and past relationships coming back to haunt him. Now, the time has come where Phoenix Wright turns his life drama into a full-length feature film. I am talking about “Ace Attorney,” the Phoenix Wright movie that was released in Japan in February 2012.
For years, we have followed this attorney from the very beginning when he was just starting out fresh on the field. We watch as Phoenix builds a reputation throughout the years and began to attract celebrities who needed his help. But then we witnessed his downfall and a successor rising to take his place (even though we all know no one could replace him). He has battled against many opponents, including a childhood friend and greatest rival, a sadistic 18 year old German woman, and a coffee-loving but internally bitter (albeit sexy) man. In “Ace Attorney,” we follow Phoenix Wright through the beginning stages of his legal career.
Director Takashi Miike brings the iconic characters of defense attorney Phoenix Wright, prosecutor Miles Edgeworth, spirit medium Maya Fey, loveable Larry Butz, and the rest of the cast to life in his feature film “Ace Attorney.” I was presented with the opportunity to watch “Ace Attorney” at AM2 in the Anaheim Convention Center on June 17, 2012. After reviewing the movie with much scrutiny, I can say with great pride and certainty this: Slap this one in the record books as one of the greatest video game movies of all time.
Video game movies are nothing new. There have been an abundance of movies that were made which were based on video games. Some horrendous interpretations to name a few, ahem Street Fighter, Hit Man, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, and every video game movie adaptation directed by Uwe Boll (man, that guy is a douche). But there were some that were actually decent, if not great. Some of those ones include Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Prince of Persia, Mortal Kombat, and Final Fantasy: Advent Children. But even with this list of halfway decent to fantastic movies, “Ace Attorney” finds itself on the top of this list of awesomely made video game movies.
The movie’s feel is comedic in nature with a sprinkle of drama and suspense. It has its hand in a little bit of everything, so it has something for the whole family. I intend to go into great detail about the movie and with that said, spoilers will be made in one way or another. If you have not played the first Phoenix Wright game, then this review will be nothing but spoilers. With that said, let’s move onto the review.
The movie takes place during the cases in the first Phoenix Wright game, titled Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. While the game itself had four cases (five including the bonus case released for the Nintendo DS), the film only focuses heavily on two cases: Mia Fey’s murder and everything surrounding the DL-6 incident. You do get a sense of the other three cases at the beginning when main characters Phoenix Wright and Miles Edgeworth are introduced. Familiar characters such as Larry Butz and Mia Fey are recurring characters throughout the film, as well as the ever so gullible but loveable Judge. The movie plays much like the game where there is an investigation, then the trial, then a turnabout, ending with a finale.
It is easy to get caught up in the characters and how Director Miike portrays his view of them, not to mention the order of the cases and whatnot, so my suggestion when watching it is to keep an open mind and try to watch it just as it is: a movie. I went with a friend who has never played the first game in detail, but knows of the characters and how the game-play works. He enjoyed it and was able to follow the story perfectly. So try not to actively look for personality traits and specific details from the game and instead, focus on the director’s overall portrayal of the game. That will make the experience of watching this amazing movie easier and more enjoyable.
This review will be broken down into four parts: characters, cases, and special effects. Each section will be explained in detail. Again, if you are not a fan of spoilers, I suggest you do not read any further than this. But I will give my overall rating of this movie with some reasons behind it. My overall judgment on the movie, on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it an 8.5. Nothing’s perfect and there are slight improvements that could be made, a big one being character development. The characters of Edgeworth and Maya fell by the wayside, whereas Phoenix and Larry shined. In terms of style, if you can handle some of the silliness as well as great attention to detail (some better than others), then you will love this movie. Story-wise, it is difficult to cram so much detail from an entire video game into a feature length film. While there are some cases in the first game that you may have deemed important (like the first case of Larry Butz or the third case with the Steel Samurai), director Miike focused on the two key cases that involved the main characters of the game. It can’t get much tighter than a case with Phoenix’s mentor being murdered, the sister being a suspect, and the prosecutor being the one person that made him become an attorney. Not to mention a case with that same prosecutor being tried for murder, Phoenix’s plea to defend him, and the prosecuting attorney being a mentor for the prosecutor. Many relationships needed to be explained if one wanted to get a gist of how the game played out, so narrowing down the cases to those two while still showing pieces of the other cases was a brilliant move.
Now onto the meat and potatoes of the review. Check out the characters, cases, and special effects/details on Only Single Player!