You can’t really put Takashi Miike in any type of bracket. Frankly, he doesn’t really belong in any particular genre. Why? Because his movies range from family dramas to bizarre and violent thrillers. Such is the case of Phoenix Wright.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney its somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. It sits in between between Ninja Kids!!! (Children’s movie) and For Love’s Sake (a romance musical) in Miike’s resume. Therefore proving the point that Miike, is an eclectic and versatile filmmaker.
In fact, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney cemented that notion and added him in the realm of Japan’s auteurs. He’s probably one of the very few directors who have more than 100 movies to his credit. Furthermore, he’s been even dubbed as Quentin Tarantino of Japan. He’s a director who blends the bizarre and the weird with the ordinary, and does it really well.
But before we dive into the 2012 movie it’s only fitting to mention the Capcom game. Because there wasn’t going to be a Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney movie, if it wasn’t a Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – the video game first.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney- What’s the game all about?
Created by Shu Takumi and developed by Capcom, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, was first released in 2001. Furthermore five additional main series games, spin-offs, and remasters followed since. And besides the live-action movie, the video game has been adapted into manga series, stage plays, anime and lots of musicals as well.
Each player can become a defense attorney in the game. Phoenix Wright is one of those defense attorneys that you can pick, but you can also choose his mentor Mia Fey or his understudies Athena Cykes and Apollo Justice. The point of the game is through tough courtroom battles and cross-examining the witnesses, to defend the client that’s on trial.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is one of Capcom’s best projects and a company’s bestseller as well.
But, what about the live-action adaptation and is it any good?
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – The Movie
In short, yes… It’s a very good movie. And the long answer to the intricate details about the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney themes, structure and characters…. It’s one of the weirdest movie you’ll ever watch. Probably it’s best to strap yourself. There’s a lot to be said about this movie adaptation.
However, let’s start from the beginning. I heard about Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (the video game) just a few years ago. A friend of mine (who’s a law student, avid gamer and huge manga fan) recommended it to my husband. He even mentioned that one of his law professors suggested playing the game as a simulation of an actual court bases trial. That’s right. I’m not joking.
Whether or not the law students played Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney during one of the classes, I can’t say. But it seems like a wacky, yet fun training concept for future judges, attorneys and prosecutors. Don’t you think?
However, Gyakuten Sabian (in Japanese) is actually based on the second and fourth cases in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. In the not so distant future, there is an increasing number of crimes that are committed on a daily basis. Japan is a crime infested decaying country.
Japan’s legal system can’t handle the overload, so the inquisitional system has been re-instated. Every trial must end after three days and the judge is the one who gives the sentence. You know, instead of a jury. So, the Takashi Miike directed movie follows our protagonist Phoenix Wright, during those bizarre trials. You see, he’s a newly minted and inexperienced lawyer, but will get the case of a lifetime. A tough courtroom battle against Miles Edgeworth.
He’s the exact opposite of Phoenix Right. An experienced, seasoned prosecutor with a perfect record of winning cases. He’s the best of the best. And who’s the defendant? Maya Fey, the sister of Wright’s late mentor, Mia Fey. So, he must do the impossible. To prove Maya’s innocence in just three days’ time.
Lawyers, trails and tribulations
However, the second case will prove to be even more challenging. This time, Miles is the one who’s charged with murder. So, it’s up to Phoenix to go to court yet again. But now he’ll face probably the greatest of all the prosecutors ever.
Miles’ old mentor called Manfred Von Karma. Not an easy task indeed, since Manfred hasn’t lost a case in 4 decades. So, he’ll dig up old cases, and search in places that nobody will ever dare. All to win the case, of course.
If I tell you that there isn’t any movie quite like this one, would you believe me? The script, the acting, the cinematography, the set design and especially the direction are trying to mimic the video game.
Maybe they’re not succeeding all the time, but for the most part, they are on point. Which is great. You have the feel of it as you’re watching the movie. Not to mention the fantastic special effects in the courtroom scenes (during the presenting of evidence) you definitely get the whole effect. Besides, they’re literally throwing the evidence in the defendant’s faces.
It’s like you’re watching a boxing match, but with objections and other legal terminology, instead of actual punches. It will keep you on the edge of your seat for sure.
Watching Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is definitely an experience. It is ridiculous, but It’s the closest gaming experience that you’ll have outside of playing the video game. No wonder Kotaku praised it as the „best video game movie ever“.
Ultimately, most of the courtroom dramas can be a bit boring, repetitive and predictable. Not this one. The movie’s visual and tonal style makes the experience a lot more vibrant, energetic and engaging. It’s truly a unique movie, and I don’t think Hollywood can even begin to recreate it in order to make it even half as good.
Honestly it will probably bee like the Netflix’s version of Death Note. A horrendous and shallow attempt to capture the outstanding manga series.
Do you enjoy playing the video game? How about the movie version based on the video game? Did you like it as well? Tell us in the comments section. We’d love to hear all about it.