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Pino Van Lamsweerde
This movie is based on the second and fourth cases in the popular video game Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. The plot follows Phoenix Wright, a novice lawyer, who faces off against expert prosecutor Miles Edgeworth, who had a perfect win record. He defends Maya Fey, the sister of his deceased mentor, Mia Fey. The court system of the time dictates that the trial can only convene for a total of three days before a verdict must be reached. In the second case, Miles is charged with murder, and it is up to Phoenix to defend him against the best prosecutor of all time, as well as Miles' mentor, Manfred Von Karma, who has not lost a case in forty years! In order to resolve this case, Phoenix must look beyond the drama of the court room and search for clues left by Mia on a 15 years old case, the DL-6.Written by
This is a quite entertaining movie adaption of a series of successful mangas and video games. You don't really need to know the originals to appreciate this mixture of a fantasy and a crime movie. The film has some suspenseful and mysterious moments but also humorous parts. The movie has several short side stories that are rather appealing and don't take too much space. They involve childhood memories and the sightings of a strange monster for example. In fact, the movie adds a lot of diversified genre elements into one big potpourri but none of the elements is really dominating or impressive which is maybe one of the movies biggest flaws. It's always entertaining but sometimes lacks depth.
The story itself is divided into three parts that all lead to dramatic courtroom discussions. The three different cases are closely connected to each other and become in fact more and more interesting. A well done and short introduction, some outdoor investigations and a few flashbacks add some diversity and depth to the different characters. The story isn't hard to follow and only the first few minutes feel a little bit rushed.
While the cases are all realistic and grounded, the movie has some fantasy elements in form of holographic elements in the courtroom that could come from a science-fiction movie and a few supernatural elements involving mediums and other appearances. I happened to find these supernatural elements rather distracting and useless. They don't add much to the story and make an otherwise solid plot feel a little bit fluffy.
The most important thing that may be controversially discussed is the acting. Some fans of the games and mangas said that this movie was one of the best video game adaptions ever done, others said that this movie lacked the charm and genius of the originals. I neither know the games nor the mangas and that's probably the best thing for a neutral point of view.
Each character has its unique traits which is great. Phoenix Wright is your chaotic, determined and nervous young attorney who fights for ideals such as friendship, justice and truth. His antagonist is the aged, bitter and self-possessed Manfred von Karma. His childhood friend and colleague Miles Edgeworth happens to be a rather arrogant, cold but very smart prosecutor who could come from a medieval court or a visual kei band. Another childhood friend called Larry Butz is a humorous, ingenious and tricky fellow. His assistant Maya Fey is a rather emotional, sometimes even hysterical but also intelligent woman with stylish looks. The judge is old, patient and wise. Even the secondary actors in form of different witnesses have their own unique characters such as the broken and isolated Yanni Yogi or the dark and mysterious Redd White.
What I liked less about the acting was that many parts were simply overacted. I know that this is the case of many Japanese movies and this element seems to want to underline the manga style of the story but it feels quite redundant after a while. This element is used way too much in this film and fails at its initial attempt to put some emotions and humour in this film. Sometimes, the characters feel more like birds. Phoenix Wright is the nervous chicken who always gets upset, Maya Fey is the colourful but sometimes difficult turkey, Miles Edgeworth the proud rooster, Redd White the strange raven, the judge the wise owl who is always ready to attack when the chances are good and so on. The funniest thing is that at some point, a cockatoo comes into play as a witness and happens to play the most grounded part of the entire movie. This bird feels the most human among all characters. At some point, all this exaggerated acting may feel somewhat childish.
In the end, it,s hard to rate this movie. If you just want to watch it because legendary Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike has directed it, better stay away from it because it doesn't have much to do with his most famous works. Those who like the games and mangas either hate or love this movie. Watch the movie and choose your camp. Anyone else might get very well entertained but you should know that this film is very Japanese. It's colourful, diversified and always over the top. Some might find this mixture dynamical, others rather annoying. Fans of Japanese cinema should definitely give this movie a try, those who prefer traditional courtroom dramas or thrillers should stay away from it.
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