I'm getting introduced to a lot of firsts at the Melbourne International Film Festival. This particular screening introduced me to the works of Takashi Miike (13 Assassins (2010); Ichi the Killer (2001)). I settled in for the screening of his latest work, Ace Attorney, based on the popular series of video games of the same name.
Phoenix Wright (Hiroki Narimiya) is a young, 'green' attorney who is just starting out. His lack of experience shows as in the courtroom he is often flustered and nervous, but he is earnest, and always does the best he can in defending his clients. Edgar Wright (Takumi Saito) is a young but brilliant prosecutor who aims to be the best he can, like his boss, Prosecutor Manfred von Karma (Ryo Ishibashi). Phoenix is thrown in the deep end when some terrible murders occur, and he is the only one available and willing to defend the suspects, who he truly believes are innocent.
Where do I begin? This has to be the craziest film I've seen this year, in terms of story, of characterisations, of visuals, and of humour. This is coming from someone who knows about the games, but has never actually played them, so, in as an unbiased opinion as I can possibly offer - I loved it. Fans of the games will in all probability find a lot to appreciate, as I get the feeling that there are a lot references to the games themselves (and the plot was in fact based on a couple of cases from the first game). Coincidentally, the plot is where the film encounters most of it's problems. Even at 135 minutes, it felt disjointed and unclear some of the time. That doesn't mean I was bored though. I was just along for the ride, and a fun ride it was.
Visually it's highly stylised, and very colourful! The actors (particularly Takumi Saito, whose character was rather serious) performed their roles with a certain intensity, that given the humour and visuals, simply made it all the more hilarious. It was very 'anime' in it's physicality. Costumes and effects were flamboyant. It was over the top and ridiculous - it drew a lot of laughs from me!
Working out a rating for this film proved a rather difficult task for me, despite all this. The plot issues are really quite glaring, but I had so much fun. I've decided I can't ignore that fun, and really, that's all this film is trying to be.