If courtroom is theater, Takashi Miike's "Ace Attorney" is a dull production.

If courtroom is theater, Takashi Miike’s “Ace Attorney” is a dull production. Adapted from Capcom’s vidgame of the same name (licensed by Nintendo), this cartoonish live-action reworking of the game’s investigative and courtroom settings involves rookie lawyer Phoenix Wright’s inexpert handling of a murder case connected to an earlier homicide. Miike himself seems barely able to muster much enthusiasm for the assignment, which is criminally long and generally lacking in his playful visual hyperbole. Nevertheless, the helmer’s cult following and the game’s popularity guarantee initial strong local sales on the pic’s mid-February opening.

When colleague Mia (Rei Dan) is murdered, attorney Phoenix Wright (Hiroki Narimiya) successfully though ineptly defends her sis Maya (Mirei Kiritani). Rival prosecutor Miles Edgeworth (Takumi Saito) is blamed for a killing linked to Mia’s death and an earlier crime, so Phoenix defends him with a blend of incompetence and luck. A few flashy f/x are routine, and humor is of the “Is he wrong, Mr. Wright?” variety. Courtroom scenes are repetitive, and characters, largely defined by silly haircuts, less emotionally developed than the target audience. Best to stick with Miike’s earlier manga/anime adaptations.

Ace Attorney

Japan

Production

A Nippon Television Network Corp., Toho, Capcom Pictures, OLM production. Produced by Masayuki Higashiyama, Naoto Hatakeyama, Misako Saka, Shigeji Maeda. Executive producer, Seiji Okuda. Directed by Takashi Miike. Screenplay, Takeshi Iida, Sachiko Oguchi, based on the Capcom videogame "Ace Attorney."

Crew

Camera (color), Masakazu Oka; editor, Kenji Yamashita; music, Koji Endo, Porno Graffitti; production designer, Yuji Hayashida; costume designer, Chieko Matsumoto. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (Spectrum), Jan. 26, 2012. Running time: 134 MIN.

With

Hiroki Narimiya, Takumi Saito, Mirei Kiritani, Akiyoshi Nakao, Shunsuke Daito, Kimiko Yo, Akira Emoto, Rei Dan, Ryo Ishibashi, Fumiyo Kohinata, Mitsuki Tanimura, Takehiro Hira, Eisuke Sasai, Makoto Ayukawa.

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