PHOENIX WRIGHT | MOVIE REVIEW

The first thing I have to say about the Phoenix Wright (Gyakuten Saiban) movie is that it. is. gorgeous. Visually. As a movie, it suffered more than a few problems in pacing, script and execution.

No spoilers (apart from the fact Mia is dead...which you'd find out in the first few minutes of the movie and game anyway)

There was extraordinary attention to detail in styling the aesthetics, from the hair to the makeup to the props and the people in the courtroom galley. Phoenix’s hair. Larry’s everything. They made a giant, inflatable Steel Samurai. They made Larry’s TRUCK…thing. They made ghost Mia. Young Phoenix, Larry and Edgeworth were dressed correctly and utterly adorable. Take that, Dragon Ball Z Evolution or whatever it was.

Gumshoe is way too young and attractive-looking though.

As a movie, it fails on several levels. 

The thing about Phoenix Wright games is that most of the fun happens in the gameplay. Exploring the crime scene, talking to people, collecting evidence and trying to piece it all together during the trial - a lot of the action happens because the player is actively involved.

Translating that into a movie is…not successful. 

The time the player would be puzzling over the evidence can’t be shown. A lot of the turnarounds, as much as they made sense in the game, was just so out-of-nowhere in the movie. Half the time, it looked like Ghost Mia was the Deus ex Machina of all time because she literally explained the answers to Phoenix.

The pacing of the movie was really off. The dialogue was on an extraordinary level of stiltedness. The court cases really should have been fast paced and dramatic, but it was maybe 80% awkward silence as Phoenix put on his ‘concentration face’ (aka. ‘I have stomach problems’). The judge, as adorable as he was, looked and sounded half asleep most of the time and wasn't as appropriately shocked, which reduced the dramatic impact of key moments.

Some of the gags were utterly terrible, especially the ones where Phoenix is giving silly answers, mostly because the pacing was already so slow.

It’s a shame because there were some genuinely funny (if silly) gags (Phoenix’s ‘TAKE THAT!’ = throwing a giant telegraphic screen with evidence at Gumshoe, the ANIME COURT COLLAPSING after Phoenix’s Christmas comment; Phoenix's 'I'm...noooot...stalling...for...time........'). The misplaced long silences after some jokes and the general failure to keep up the momentum killed most of the humour.

If they couldn’t generate tension and drama with the lawyers, at least they could have made the audience reactions a little more explosive.  The above was one of the only times the audience reacted. Even after EXPLOSIVE REVELATIONS, there was next to no noise from the audience.

I did love the bizarre, futuristic but pretty ingenious way of showing evidence though (aka. giant holographic screens). Yami Yogi's backstory was also well explained and evocative - showing narrative sequences was the movie's strength. Unfortunately, it had to be interspersed with courtroom scenes, which was where the movie failed the most.

Ultimately, it was a beautiful movie but it really failed on script and pacing, which is such a shame because, like I said, gorgeous.