Is Ace Attorney the best video game movie ever?
This is a digital version of a story that appeared in the print publication of Gamercamp Magazine. Dork Shelf is Gamercamp’s official media sponsor. Gamercamp takes place in Toronto from Nov. 3-4. For more details, click here.
Films based on video games don’t often work through adaptation. The classic misfire was Super Mario Bros., where filmmakers did everything they could to steer away from the beloved series, only to make half-hearted references to Yoshi and familiar enemies like Bob-ombs. Double Dragon, Dead Or Alive, Street Fighter, Silent Hill, Resident Evil: there’s a long list of films that don’t live up to the games that inspired them.
However, the trend may be coming to a halt: Japanese director Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer) has made what some reviewers are calling one of the best video game-based films.
Of all things, it stars a lawyer named Phoenix Wright.
The adventure-style Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series by Capcom is massively popular in its native Japan, and has become a cult hit in North America. In the games, you play as the titular defense attorney who helps his clients in trials by collecting evidence and arguing on their behalf in court.
Set in the near future, the volume of court cases forces a change in the system: all cases must be decided within three days. The courtroom becomes a heightened reality show, complete with celebrity attorneys and a ringside audience.
Miike has adapted stories from popular culture before, such as his film Ichi the Killer, based on a manga of the same name. In adapting Ace Attorney, he doesn’t just pay lip-service to the characters, instead envisioning the world of the games brought to life in film. The film smartly revolves around relatable conflict: young attorney Wright starts the film grappling with the death of his mentor, while juggling the pressure from rival prosecutor, Miles Edgeworth.
The film has shown to sold out crowds at film festivals in Montreal and New York. Fans of the games won’t be disappointed: characters dress and move like they would in the videogames, from Phoenix Wright’s stylized hairdo to Miles Edgeworth’s traditional garb. There are some plot differences, but overall the adaptation is faithful and will be pleasing to those who have followed the franchise. Newcomers won’t be left out however, and are sure to be dazzled by Miike’s visual style and a gripping courtroom drama worth seeing to the end.
Gamercamp will be hosting the Toronto premiere of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney with two showings: Halloween night (October 31) and on Sunday November 4 after the festival. Please check www.gamercamp.ca to buy tickets and for theatre locatios.