The movie will not be officially released till February 11, 2012 in Japan, so there may not be a clear verdict yet. Nonetheless, recent trailers circulating the web for this adaptation of the popular video game and manga series have given us, the jury, something to ponder. Notable aspects taken from the game, as shown in thetrailers, are the inclusion of several major and minor characters from the franchise as well as a few notable story aspects from the series. Also, there appears to be demonstrated an incredible attention to detail in character costuming down to the zany hair styles that would generally defy real world physics.
However, costuming and character design alone do not an epic film adaptation make. So it might be worth noting that this film does have one going for it in that it is directed by veteran director Takashi Miike. Mind you, this is a double edged sword. Actually it might even seem like an odd choice if you consider that his initial rise to fame was partly due to the controversial film Ichi the Killer. In fact it was so controversial, due to the high levels of graphic violence, that it was heavily censored in many of its international releases. Furthermore, it was so over the top gory that the attendees at the film festivals where it was first shown were offered movie branded vomit bags, just in case. Also, of concern is the fact that in many of his works, Miike seems to even show a penchant for scenes of the extreme macabre, ultra-violent, overtly bizarre and deeply twisted. It is not surprising that he has cited admiration for directors such as David Lynch and David Cronenburg.
In his defense, however, Miike has seemed to become somewhat of a reformed man in recent years. Lately, he has been directing films which are live-action adaptations of anime and manga series such as Yatterman, Salaryman Kintaro and even the family friendly Ninja Kids. All of these show a softer side of Miike with scenes of unabashed zaniness in place his normal dark scenes of the macabre. While the trailer for the Phoenix Wright movie may seem a bit dark and brooding, as compared to the light-hearted tongue in cheek video games, it may or may not ultimately be indicative as to the overall nature of the movie. This of course, is all conjecture on my part and by no means admissible in court, so to speak. However, it will be interesting to see exactly which part of Miike’s personality directed this work; or if in fact it skates a fine line between the darkly disturbed and deeply wacky. Either way, this juror is prepared to do his civic duty in sitting through the entire hearing when court is marked to be in session.