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Gyakuten Saiban

December 31, 2012


Yeah, so I FINALLY got to watch the Gyakuten Saiban movie. It’s a pretty faithful recreation of the first game. It’s got some flaws but I’m not sure how bad they actually are. I’ll need Landon to watch the movie to know whether it worked or not, since I’m fairly certain he hasn’t played the games yet.


But for those of us who HAVE played the game, it’s pretty neat. It has a few necessary changes but for the most part, it’s for the better.

Spoilers after the jump.

The first act of the movie was pretty darn good. The first bunch of cases in the game were wrapped up right quick. But it was great, since it established all the characters. The only major change was the Silver Samurai case was given to Edgeworth. The result is still the same but Edgey got to show off a bit, which was something missing from the games. In the first game, Edgeworth comes in as some supposed wonder kid, but the guy kept losing to you, which hurt his credibility as a legit adversary. Here Edgey gets a little cred going into the first “real” trial of the movie.

Then things start to go downhill.

You see, one of the best things about this flick is that as much as some bits feel like deus ex machina, everything’s actually foreshadowed. For instance, there’s one bit early on where we get to see a piece of evidence from an alternate angle, it only lasts a few seconds but it’s long enough to see certain details if you know to look for it. This is especially true on the big screen. Later on, this alternate evidence is brought up. It seems like it came out of nowhere, but yeah, it was already revealed to the audience beforehand.

But the second third of the movie… it’s just horrible. A lot of stuff that happens is explained after the fact. Honestly, it’s like they wanted to do a good job on the opening of the movie in order to please the fans, and then they wanted to make sure they get the closing of the movie right, since if you’ve played the game you know that’s pretty pivotal. So the director put all his time and effort there and let the middle portion be handled by some secondary co-director or something. Or at least, that’s how it felt like. I mean, heck, the dialogue in the middle portion of the flick was pretty much reduced to mono-syllabalism. Barely anyone is able to form a complete sentence. It had the worst aspects of your stereotypical J-drama.

And I thought it would go on being bad. To the point where I thought, “Man, this flick totally needs a director’s cut to fill in certain blanks”. I was expecting more of the same for the third act, but fortunately, it got better. It wasn’t a total turnabout from the second third of the flick, but in the end, I’m left with the desire for a director’s cut that only adds 5 or 10 more minutes to get things right, rather than the additional 30 minutes I thought would be required while watching the 2nd act.

Overall, I think it’s a decent film. I’m fine with most of the changes. I kinda wish Phoenix had more chances to go on extended debates but oh well. Maya’s gone from an annoying but supposedly cute character in the game to a more or less superfluous plot device here, but I’m fine with it. The actress has a really great face for expressions.

They also got rid of Edgeworth’s phobia from the game, which is probably the way to go. It was weaksauce to begin with. And the elevator scene was changed to something else, which is not only probably necessary, but arguably made the premise a tad stronger.

But I still wish for a director’s cut to expand on a couple of points though. Like the game, the movie only eludes to the events that happened with the Feys during the DL-6 case. But the games had the luxury of constantly reminding us that the Fey family faced stigma from DL-6. A bit more mention of that in the movie would have been nice. The way this part was closed off by the end of the movie was good, but it never felt like a big deal that Maya’s mom got it “wrong” to begin with.

The other thing I’d have like, and this is the big one, is more time spent on the villain’s motivations. See, the thing is… they never revealed the villain’s connection to the events in the 2nd act of the movie. This is one part that needed to be spelled out. As it is, the entire middle of the movie seems like padding because it has no real relation to the end game.

Spoilers: In the game, the villain was responsible for manipulating the events of the 2nd act to occur, all as part of an elaborate revenge scheme to implicate Edgeworth before the statute of limitations ran out for the DL-6 case. Why? Because he’s just THAT much of an egotistical bastard. It’s not enough to get away with murder, he needed to tear down Edgeworth in order to satisfy his ego.

An extra 5 minutes or so, really needed to be spent on building up the villain’s massive ego. Without it, there is no revenge angle and without the revenge angle, the entire movie becomes senseless after the 1st act because there’s no motivation to tie things together.

I’m not even complaining from the standpoint of a fan who needs things to be slavishly accurate to the game, but as a (hopefully) casual movie goer. I’m actually fine with most if not all the changes in the film. The changes were small for the most part and usually for the best. Like I said, the elevator thing in the game was weaksauce, and the idea that the villain did what he did to cover his misdeeds is good. But without a motive for why he’s doing what he’s doing NOW, it creates a pretty major plot hole in the movie.

Overall, decent flick. But whether it’s accessible to someone not familiar with the first game, well, we’ll have to wait for Landon to watch and confirm.


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