San Diego Asian Film Festival 2012 presents Ace Attorney

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: Takashi Miite

Rating: 7.5

Website: Gyakuten Saiban

In a futuristic Japan, where trials have been mandated to last only three days by law, Novice Lawyer Phoenix Wright ends up defending his nemesis Miles Edgeworth in a murder trial.

The whole thing looks and sounds and acts like an odd combination of a video game, a Japanese game show, and collective mayhem, and it turns out there’s a very good reason for it. Namely the movie is actually based off a series of Capcom video games called, appropriately, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. This means that in typical Director Takashi Miite’s over-the-top style, every last thing and person screams J-Pop. The Heroines hair have blue undertones, Wright’s own hair seems frozen into stylish waves, Edgeworth flutters and dresses like a fop, there’s a female character with a crazy Afro, and of course a ghost or two to help Wright out along the way – every single last character gets the video game insanity treatment, even the audience.

So the whole thing starts off with a murder in Wright’s own firm, of Mia, a fellow lawyer who seems to save Wright’s butt more often than not. Pitted against Miles Edgeworth, a very fine Prosecutor with a mentor who’s never lost a case in 40 years, Wright doesn’t seem to stand a chance. Yet somehow he manages to win the case, which only leads to yet more questions concerning an old case that was never brought to justice, having bearing on the current case. Mysteries and murders begin to pile up, and Wright now finds himself defending a reluctant Edgeworth on a murder charge. The whole thing is wrought with ridiculous moments, over the top acting and always apparent desperation from Wright, who just seems to want to do the right thing, often getting saved at the last moment from some brilliant “Ah-ha!” from a friend. The CGI in the court room is pretty damned awesome, and Moxie can’t help but think if we had that for our modern-day Courtrooms and CSIs, the law would at least be a lot more entertaining.

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