Ace Attorney (film)

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Ace Attorney
Directed byTakashi Miike
Written byTakeharu Sakurai
Sachiko Ōguchi
Based onPhoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
by Shu Takumi
StarringHiroki Narimiya
Mirei Kiritani
Takumi Saito
Music byKōji Endō
CinematographyMasakazu Oka
Distributed byToho
Release date
  • 11 February 2012 (2012-02-11) (Japan)
Running time
135 minutes
Box officeUS$6,145,000

Ace Attorney (Japanese: 逆転裁判, Hepburn: Gyakuten Saiban, lit. "Turnabout Trial") is a 2012 Japanese legal comedy-drama film, directed by Takashi Miike and based on the Capcom video game Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.[1] The film stars Hiroki Narimiya, Mirei Kiritani, and Takumi Saito. It made its premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam on 1 February 2012 and was released in Japanese cinemas on 11 February 2012. The US premiere was made at the Hawaii International Film Festival in April 2012. Miike has stated there are plans for an international release with both dubbing and subtitles available for each specific region.[2]


The court system, burdened by the massive number of crimes being committed, introduces a new trial system: the bench trial system. Both prosecution and defense face each other in open court, and have three days to make their case before the judge renders a verdict.

Shortly after winning his first case, proving his best friend Larry Butz innocent of murder, rookie defense attorney Phoenix Wright is thrust into the limelight after the murder of his mentor, Mia Fey. The accused murderer is Mia's younger sister, Maya Fey, who comes from a family line of spirit mediums. Wright faces off with childhood friend and rival prosecutor Miles Edgeworth on the case. After some cross examination of a witness and interpretation of evidence at the crime scene, photojournalist Redd White confesses to the crime, and Maya is subsequently found not guilty.

Wright explains to Maya that he became a lawyer because Edgeworth and Butz defended him when he was accused of stealing money as a child, and offers to defend Edgeworth when he is accused of the murder of attorney Robert Hammond at Gourd Lake, with Edgeworth's mentor Manfred von Karma acting as prosecutor. The case takes an unexpected turn as Wright unravels a related 15-year-old mystery concerning the DL-6 case, which focuses on Miles' father Gregory Edgeworth. Gregory was found murdered in the court's basement evidence locker room; Yanni Yogi, a court bailiff, is initially accused of murdering Gregory after discovering Gregory allegedly tampering with a gun used as evidence in a case. He is coerced into pleading not guilty by reason of insanity by Hammond in killing Gregory with the gun. The DL-6 case ultimately destroys Yogi's life, where he resorts to living as a hermit. A package arrives urging Yogi to take revenge, namely setting up the murder of Hammond by Miles. Yogi confesses to the ruse in open court, but Miles admits he believes that he murdered his father, not Yogi.

The admission by Edgeworth focuses new attention on the DL-6 case. Wright manages to prove in court that Edgeworth did not kill his father, and he uncovers evidence that von Karma had committed perjury and killed Gregory. However, key evidence in the form of the gun that Gregory thought was tampered with and killed with is missing to prove this theory. Mia Fey's notes on the DL-6 case and a timely discovery of the bullet that killed Gregory hidden in a clock statue of The Thinker, which was used to kill Mia after she took the bullet evidence, help proves von Karma's crime and unravels the mystery. Von Karma has a breakdown in court and is subsequently arrested for the crime of murdering Gregory, and for hiring Redd White to retrieve the bullet from The Thinker, and Miles is acquitted of all crimes. Wright vows to help defend Yogi of his crimes and reconciles with Edgeworth, while Butz admits to stealing the money when they were children and Maya returns home for further training.

During the credits, scenes based off cases from the game Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All are shown.



The music for Ace Attorney was composed by Kōji Endō [ja], known for scoring other films by Takashi Miike. For the soundtrack, Endō chose to use various themes by Masakazu Sugimori from the original video game and re-arranged them for an ensemble consisting of a string orchestra, an oboe, a clarinet, two French horns, a trumpet, and a choir. Additional background music was also newly composed. The soundtrack was later released on CD to tie in with the movie.[3] The film's theme song, "2012Spark", was composed and performed by the Japanese male rock group Porno Graffitti.[4]


The movie made its world premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam on 1 February 2012[5] with a release in Japanese cinemas on 11 February 2012.[1] The film made its US premiere at the Hawaii International Film Festival in April 2012.[6][7] The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 22 August 2012 in Japan,[8] and on 17 April 2013 in Australia.[9] In Germany, the film was released by Koch Media on DVD and Blu-ray on 14 June 2013.[10] The film was available on Netflix for a time, but has since been removed. It is currently available on Quickflix as a "premium" film that customers can rent for 48 hours.[11]


The movie earned over US$1,547,000 in its opening weekend, grossing over US$6,145,000 during its theatrical run.[12]

The film received generally favorable reviews from critics.[13] Richard Eisenbeis of Kotaku praised the film, calling it "the best video game movie ever",[14] which was also echoed by fellow Kotaku writer Matt Hawkins.[15] Paul Verhoeven of IGN scored it 8 out of 10, calling it a great "pitch-perfect adaptation of the game."[16] Ard Vijn of Screen Anarchy said he "loved it and so did most of the audience" at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.[17] Megan Lehmann of Hollywood Reporter called it a "cartoonishly fun legal drama".[18] Travis Hopson of AXS described it as "the perfect example of an adaptation done right, capturing the frenetic and confusing storylines while remaining fresh and engaging enough for newcomers" and achieving "a certain level of greatness."[19] Nintendo Life called it "the best video game movie out there."[20] Matthew Razak of Destructoid described it as a good movie "that not only grabs the gamer's side of things but becomes a thing in and of itself, something rarely done by gaming movies."[21] Brandon Harris of Indie Wire called it a stylish, "bizarre, oddly satisfying video game adaptation and otherworldly legal satire."[22]

Jay Weissberg of Variety referred to the film as a "dull production" that was "criminally long and generally lacking in [Miike's] playful visual hyperbole."[23] Wilma Jandoc of the Honolulu Star Advertiser lamented that the film could not easily translate the sillier aspects of the game into the movie, but contended that a viewer not privy to the video game series could be entertained if they focused on the more mystery/crime side of the movie and ignored the sillier parts.[24]


  1. ^ a b 逆転裁判. (in Japanese). Retrieved 27 May 2011.
  2. ^ Fletcher, JC. "Miike: Ace Attorney movie being localized for worldwide release". Retrieved 16 June 2012.
  3. ^ "Gyakuten Saiban Movie Original Soundtrack". Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  4. ^ "Porno Graffitti to Perform Ace Attorney Theme Song". Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  5. ^ "Director Miike: Ace Attorney Film Will See Int'l Release". Anime News Network.
  6. ^ "Hawaiian Film Festival Screens Ace Attorney, Always: Sunset on Third Street '64 Films". Anime News Network.
  7. ^ "ACE ATTORNEY - 2012 Spring Showcase". Hawaii International Film Festival.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Ace Attorney". Madman Entertainment. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  10. ^ "Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (Blu-Ray)". Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Gyakuten saiban (Ace Attorney) (2012)". Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  13. ^ "Ace Attorney (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  14. ^ Richard Eisenbeis. "Ace Attorney Is the Best Video Game Movie Ever (Take That, Hollywood!)". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  15. ^ Hawkins, Matt (June 28, 2012). "Why Ace Attorney Succeeds and Hollywood Fails". Kotaku.
  16. ^ "Ace Attorney Review". IGN. 9 August 2012.
  17. ^ "IFFR 2012 Review: ACE ATTORNEY leads the witnesses!". Screen Anarchy. 28 January 2012.
  18. ^ "Ace Attorney (Gyakuten Saiban): Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 5 August 2012.
  19. ^ Hopson, Travis (22 April 2012). "FilmFest DC Review: 'Ace Attorney', directed by Takashi Miike". AXS.
  20. ^ "Movie Review: Ace Attorney". Nintendo Life. 19 October 2012.
  21. ^ "Movie Review: Ace Attorney". Destructoid. Retrieved 2012-07-14.
  22. ^ Harris, Brandon (3 February 2012). "Rotterdam Review: Takashi Miike's 'Ace Attorney' A Stylish, Bizarre Video Game Adaptation & Legal Satire". IndieWire.
  23. ^ Weissberg, Jay (29 January 2012). "Ace Attorney". Variety. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  24. ^ Jandoc, Wilma (13 April 2012). ""Ace Attorney," the review: Turnabout perception". Honolulu Star Advertiser. Retrieved 4 July 2013.

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