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Monday, November 05, 2012

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on Ace Attorney

Ace AttorneyLast night, I attended a special screening of Takashi Miike’s adaptation of the popular Capcom video game Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (you can read my overview of the games over on my Tumblr blog).  The film has been described as the best video game adaption ever and I have to be compelled to agree with that description.  Unlike most adaptations of video games, which takes the characters and creates a plot that has little to do with the actual game, Ace Attorney is a direct adaptation of original video game and the film follows the plot of the game very closely (it helps that the games themselves are essentially interactive novels). 

Every character in Ace Attorney looks exactly like their video game counterpart (complete with crazy hairstyles).  The film also features many visual in-jokes, such as the police department’s mascot The Blue Badger, which you will only truly understand if you played the games.  However, I’m sure this film would still be enjoyable to someone who’s never played the games, despite the fact that they may not truly understand what’s going on.

To save on time (the film is already 2h15m long), Ace Attorney primarily focuses upon the final and most important case of the game (while skimming over two of the others).  In this case, prosecutor Miles Edgeworth is charged with the murder of another attorney and rookie defense attorney, and childhood friend, Phoenix Wright sets out to defend him against undefeated prosecutor Manfred von Karma.  Other important characters in the film include psychic medium Maya Fey, who can summon the spirit of her recently deceased sister Mia, Phoenix’s crazy friend Larry Butz, and detective Dick Gumshoe.

The film is quite literal in its depiction of the game’s court cases, including the use of giant video screens to show off the evidence.  Even though some of the elements adapted from the plot of the game are quite ridiculous (at one point, a cockatoo is called as a witness), it was definitely a joy watching the events play out on screen.  The film also effectively, and hilariously, captures the many panic attacks Phoenix Wright has when he stuck in a tough situation.

It’s almost a shame that Ace Attorney does not yet have proper North American distribution, since the film was an absolute joy to watch and may even end up as one of my favourite films of the year.  Takashi Miike is typically known for darker and more extreme films, so it was definitely a treat that he would be chosen to tackle a very lighthearted and comedic video game adaptation.

After many failed attempts to make films out of video games, Ace Attorney is a video game adaptation that gets it right.  Hopefully Hollywood can take this film’s lead and make video game adaptations that actually follow the plots of the games they are based on.  However, knowing the ways studios work, I highly doubt this would happen. Either way, I would say that Ace Attorney was one awesome film.

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Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).