One of the nice things about having cable TV is that you get to watch stuff that you never thought that you would watch. I was intrigued of the idea of making a movie about the Nintendo 3DS Phoenix Wright games. I’ve never played the games myself but I did like the character of Phoenix Wright and all of his wacky abilities in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3!
In fact, the only game I played that has Phoenix Wright as a character is Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3! I just have basic concepts of the Ace Attorney games. I know he’s a lawyer and he actually solves mysteries and manages to sift through all of the lies in order to get to the truth. I also know there’s this winding story in all of the games. But I haven’t the faintest idea what it is! I guess I’ll just have to be surprised then!
The basic plot is kind of weird: The Japanese courts cannot keep up with all of the trials that simultaneously happen so they introduce the Bench Trial System. Essentially, the two lawyers have up to 3 days to make their cases and afterwards, the Judge makes his ruling based on them. The story starts with rookie lawyer Phoenix Wright taking the case of Maya Fey, who has been accused of murdering Wright’s mentor (and Maya’s sister), Mia Fey. However, Phoenix Wright unwittingly steps into a conspiracy involving a 20-year old crime…
The plot was actually interesting and kind of surprising. I always thought it was just Phoenix Wright fighting for the wrongly accused but it turns out there’s more to it than that! Having all of the cases relate to each other, in not just a minor way but in a big way, kept me interested throughout the entire 135 minute runtime of the film.
The look of the characters are… interesting. I like the fact that all of the characters look like they do from the video game series! They all look very distinctive and full of color and life which is good for the most part. It is a very different look and very anime-like in a sense, which does set it apart from Hollywood versions of video game films. Honestly, I like it, especially when we got such weak looking Hollywood renditions of video game movies.
The acting throughout is over the top and cheesy but it’s part of the film’s charm. It makes you like all of the characters a whole lot more. Even if it is a movie that has some bloody and brutal death scenes, it manages to remain lighthearted for the most part. Unfortunately, this makes the powerful dramatic scenes stick out and out of place in the movie. It just swings into drama and comedy too rapidly and can be jarring if you’re not ready for it.
The comedy bits are pretty hilarious, even if they do sometimes seem extremely ridiculous and unrealistic. If these bits are in the game, then kudos to the director as he pretty much nailed the feel! Anime lovers will get the humor instantly but people unfamiliar with Japanese television and movies will find the slapstick stupid.
If there is one gripe I have with the movie, it’s that the “conspiracy” is extremely easy to figure out, even if you haven’t played the games. After the first trial is over, most people will already figure out the big mystery. It’s still fun watching Phoenix Wright fumble his way through the other trials and finding the loopholes in the witnesses testimonies.
Overall, Ace Attorney is a great movie that I’m glad I stumbled upon while channel surfing late at night. Even if the overall mystery is a total wash, it is a very entertaining film filled with a couple of twists and it does a great job in making you root for the underdog Phoenix Wright when he seems like he’s about to lose. You won’t get any objection from me: you don’t have to be familiar with the Ace Attorney games to like this movie.
Anyway, if you want to watch the full movie, it’s actually been uploaded (with subtitles) in YouTube! You can view the entire thing below while it hasn’t been taken down. Oh, by the way, you’re welcome!