Movie Review: Ace Attorney

To call Ace Attorney the greatest video game film adaptation of all time wouldn’t exactly be an honour to start singing about, considering the game-to-movie horrors the world has been exposed to in the past. To call it a contender for the greatest movie I’ve seen all year would not only be much better praise, but the honest truth.

Much like Phoenix Wright has brought justice to criminals on millions of gamer’s DS screens, he is now bringing justice to the world of video game movies, with a proud, echoing “objection!” in the face of the greedy, no-clue Hollywood amateurs.

Many may know this movie by its Japanese name, Gyakuten Saiban. That’s because, for those who aren’t aware, this is a Japanese movie. If you’re someone who is put off by movies with subtitles, I urge you to not let this discourage you, especially if you are a fan of the Ace Attorney games.

This movie adaptation is very faithful to the game’s source material. All of the major characters are here and complete with accurate costumes, hairstyles and personas. The plot follows that of the first game in the series, wherein Phoenix begins his attorney career as a rookie. He befriends his new sidekick, Maya Fey, and the pair face off against rival prosecutor, Miles Edgeworth.

There are two ways this could have gone: a dull, serious courtroom drama, or a wacky and insane pantomime. The film successfully avoids both and becomes its own, very unique direction. The film is dark and brooding as much as it is funny and light-hearded, and even though I already knew the plot after playing the DS game, the live-action story is nonetheless still captivating on the big screen.

Hiroki Narimiya performs stunningly in his role as Phoenix, perfectly representing his characteristics from the games. Each trial has Phoenix constantly on the ropes, and his desperation when trying to think of a counter-argument or what evidence to use is very sincere. Undoubtedly like the viewer, he expresses his confusion and disbelief at the insane plot twists, and is a hearty, heroic man that remains set on revealing the truth.

Maya Fey (Mirei Kiritani) is similarly brilliant with her vast range of emotions (if a little lacking in her usual highly-optimistic manner), and Miles Edgeworth (Takumi Saito) is excellent with a seemingly cold, professional exterior but a caring and friendly personality inside. The Judge (Akira Emoto) is great too, though he seems overly-serious for the majority of the movie – it would have been nice to see some of his wild eccentricity and digressive nature from the games shine through.

Ryo Ishibashi as the shady, perfectionist prosecutor Manfred von Karma is another brilliant addition to the movie, acting as the main “villain”. While he may not be quite as intimidating as I hoped, he’s certainly done well to reflect von Karma’s arrogance, as well as his lack of patience and intolerance for Phoenix’s attempts at defending.


Phoenix’s best friend Larry Butz helps to provide the majority of the movie’s comic relief, his loud-mouthed manner contrasting in the should-be serious atmosphere of the courtroom and his quarrelling with Phoenix. Dick Gumshoe provides some solid acting too, and while he didn’t appear in the film quite as much as I’d have liked, there’s so much packed into this movie’s two hour length that its forgivable. Overall, an all-round impressive performance from the whole cast.

Unexpectedly, the film has great special effects. Special effects of what, you ask? Well, the courtroom here is equipped with a huge machine on the ceiling, which outputs futuristic, holographic technology. The spiky-haired hero and his enemy prosecutors will throw holographic screens of evidence at each other, have evidence scanned by throwing it in the air and explain an objection while an on-screen diagram displays.

Everything iconic from the games has been ported here with excellent execution. Phoenix pointing his finger shouting “OBJECTION!” and the classic music theme kicking in gave me goosebumps, and I could not stop grinning. He’ll also slam his hands on the table, exclaim “hold it!” or “take that!” in a similarly spine-tingling fashion.

Speaking of the music, the soundtrack is the icing on the cake. Original compositions are mixed with orchestrated versions of the games’ music, which serves to enhance the experience even more.

With awesome plot twists, excellent pace, highly accurate representations and stellar performances, I’d highly recommend you import Ace Attorney. If there really is any justice in the world, there’ll hopefully be a DVD release outside of Japan soon – and a sequel to continue this amazing saga. No objections!


  • Best video game film adaptation of all time
  • Funny, dark, and exciting
  • 100% faithful to the video game franchise


  • None!

Score: 10/10

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