Ace Attorney (or Gyakuten Saiban) is a 2012 Live-Action Adaptation of... well, Capcom's Ace AttorneyVisual Novel games. Directed by Takashi Miike, the movie focuses on the events in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, specifically the second and fourth cases.Phoenix Wright is a rookie defense attorney determined to uncover the truth and defend the innocent. When his mentor, Mia, dies after calling about a big case she's working on, Wright finds himself thrown into cases much more difficult than he'd imagined. Aided by Mia's younger sister, Maya, he must go against the legendary prosecutor Manfred von Karma, in order to clear the name of Miles Edgeworth and solve the fifteen-year mystery known as the DL-6 Incident.
Ace Attorney provides examples of the following tropes:
Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Maya breaks down a few times, and is very much traumatized by the death of Mia and the thought that her mother's channeling technique really did send an innocent man to jail. She also screams at Redd White after her trial, demanding to know why he hurt her family so much.
Inverted. Redd White turns from a sharply dressed pretty boy into a Severus Snape look-alike.
While the game version of Gumshoe has plenty of fans, the film makes him younger, cuter, and more conventionally attractive.
Adaptational Villainy: von Karma can be seen as inversion, as his movie self is actually less aggressive and overtly hostile towards the defense than his video game counterpart. He doesn't interrupt the defense except to issue a warning that he will equate wasting the court's time to contempt (which is a valid statement to make). He's very on-the-ball but otherwise isn't bullying the court like his character from the game would (instead he's more content on letting Phoenix's own lack of sound proof do all his talking for him). He even has no objection to Phoenix calling back a witness to clarify an alibi (he raises no quarrel with a suspension of proceedings to occur to bring in the witness the next day). Only when he begins going through his Villainous Breakdown do we start to see his more temperamental characteristics.
Anime Hair: Oh yeah! Most of the improbable and sometimes downright impossible hairstyles present from the game are faithfully recreated. Even the kids in Phoenix's elementary school and what we can see of bystanders have really overdone hair.
Asshole Victim: Robert Hammond, full stop. While all the details are the same as game, we see first hand how callous he was through Yanni Yogi's flashback.
Robert Hammond: It would look very bad for my firm if I lose this case, so I want you to admit your crime, but plead insanity.
Yanni Yogi: ...what? But I really didn't do it!
Robert Hammond: I don't care whether you killed him or not.
Big Damn Heroes: On the last day of Edgeworth's trial, it looks like the key witness won't be found in time and Wright can't think of anyone else to call to the stand. The Judge is about to pound his gavel for a guilty verdict when... the Blue Badger dives in and blocks the gavel, followed by Gumshoe dragging the witness into the courtroom.
Broken Pedestal: How Edgeworth viewed his father, after seeing him stealing evidence, presumably to destroy it.
By the Eyes of the Blind: In the games, a spirit possessing a medium really does alter their physical features, making it absurd that anyone disbelieves in spirit mediums. However, in this film, Phoenix is the only one who can see Mia's ghost possessing Maya, making it easier to believe the skepticism surrounding possession.
Creator Cameo: Shu Takumi is seen in the gallery celebrating with Larry after Edgeworth's trial.
The Cast Showoff: Mirei Kiritani as Maya plays piano during the recess preceding the retrial of the DL-6 Incident.
Chekhov's Gun: The Thinker statue. The DL-6 evidence Mia found (the bullet removed from Gregory Edgeworth) was hidden in it the entire time.
And of course for anybody who's not familiar with the game: the metal detector.
Composite Character: Redd White was the one who gave the newspaper the story that ruined Misty Fey's reputation like in the game, but he also takes on April May's role of framing Maya for Mia's murder. He even has a bit of Mike Meekins when he suddenly takes out a megaphone.
Compressed Adaptation: Parts of the original case 1:1 of Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney is used to condemn Redd White in his trial. In the mean time 1:3 the case of the Steel Samurai is handled solely by Edgeworth and a no-name attorney in which Edgeworth completely demolishes everybody who stood against him. The movie's main focus is case 1:4.
As well as of what in game was evidence towards Redd White, who owned a company based on blackmail, in the movie the Thinker statue contained the bullet that hit Von Karma.
The film did minimize a lot of the quirkiness from the game. Gumshoe is a young, fresh detective rather than his bumbling, middle-aged game counterpart; Maya is a serious, hurt woman rather than her bubbly, humorous game persona. Compared to other examples of Darker and Edgier, this film doesn't exemplify it as much, but in the context of the Ace Attorney series, definitely.
The darker tone is especially noticeable during Polly the Parrot's cross-examination. In the game, it's hilarious all the way through. In the movie, it is a pitiful grasping at straws that borders on Tear Jerker as Phoenix desperately tries to save Edgeworth. And then the movie shows just how much DL-6 really affected Yanni Yogi's life...
Death by Adaptation: In the game, Redd White just disappears after his trial. In the movie, he is poisoned in jail. This is to fill a potential Adaptation Induced Plot Hole, since the movie has Redd be an accomplice for von Karma, and him being killed prevents Wright from getting him to testify.
Faux Affably Evil: Von Karma tells Edgeworth that the way he conducts his trials is not to be commended, being too harsh. He then kicks off the Gourdy shooting trial by introducing himself to Wright, and basically wishing the best man to win. And then, it's revealed everything that he's done...
Though he's still more Affably Evil than his game counterpart. Where in the games he's solely focussed on never losing, always getting a Guilty verdict despite the opposition, and cheating his way to victory, in the movie he claims his mission was to get the guilty condemned, in a perverted fashion of what [prior to Character Development] Edgeworth's characterization was like, in the movie he faces his final fate with a form of dignity.
Face Fault: Several examples. Remember this film is live action...
The first time is when Phoenix nitpicks Lotta Hart's testimony, trying to find a valid contradiction in her saying the gunshot went off on Christmas Eve, when it happened shortly after midnight and thus actually happened on Christmas Day. Everyone, including Lotta, Edgeworth, and von Karma face fault at that.
The second happens when the boat rental man testifies that he saw Edgeworth on the night of the crime, "fluttering" by saying "I can't believe [Robert Hammond] is dead!" Edgeworth objects to this on the grounds that he never said that, and "Moreover... I don't flutter to that extent!" Cue the the entire courtroom face faulting.
Boat Rental Man: You're still fluttering...
An apparent subversion shows up when von Karma stumbles in place when Phoenix calls Polly the parrot to the stand.
In the post-credits scene, the courtroom does this when the defendant identifies the glowing guitar presented as evidence as "Jammin' Ninja's Trademark Guitar!"
Feather Motif: White feathers tend to fall around Yanni Yogi in the courtroom whether his parrot is present or not.
Fingore: Yanni Yogi bathed his own fingers in acid to remove his fingerprints.
Funny Background Event: After the Blue Badger makes his heroic appearance and blocks the gavel, his head rolls off, revealing that no one was inside the suit
Golden Mean Fallacy: The film presents two extremes: one was a defense attorney working to free his client even by using the dirtiest tactics (Hammond), and another was a prosecutor working to prove every single defendant guilty because he could never be too sure (von Karma). The end of the movie shows Edgeworth and Phoenix working together to find the truth, whether or not the defendant was guilty: the clear middle of the two views. While this is undoubtedly the noblest option possible, that sort of conduct would probably lead to a mistrial in an actual courtroom.
It isn't so much "working together" but rather doing things the right way. The prosecutor (in this legal system) assumes that the person who was arrested is guilty of that which they are accused while the defense attorney claims they are not. The prosecutor will use the evidence and witness testimony to corroborate the defendant's movements with the facts of the crime while the defense attorney counters by saying the evidence can be interpreted differently or the witness is not recounting the facts as they stand. Judgement is to be handed down when one side can no longer perform their assigned duty and the opposing side has proven their case. This is how it's supposed to work but when Amoral Attorneys like Robert Hammond and Manfred von Karma try to skew the flow of the trial to their side by introducing illegal evidence or manipulated testimonies, that's where the system breaks down. Edgeworth and Phoenix's methods stay within the legal bounds of the trial system and thus verdicts are rendered properly.
Glass Cannon: In the flashback to the DL-6 Incident, Edgeworth was able to distract Yanni Yogi by biting him and apparently threw the gun hard enough to knock him out , but was knocked unconscious by being shoved against the wall. (Justifiable, as he was a child at the time)
Happily Married: Polly and Yanni are actually married, and flashbacks show they were very happy until harassment from the neighborhood caused Polly to be Driven to Suicide.
He Knows Too Much: Mia was killed for uncovering new evidence which would have proved that the gun von Karma provided as evidence fifteen years ago was forged. It turns out that Von Karma was anticipating this when he killed Gregory Edgeworth, who hadn't actually figured out the forgery, but was well on his way to discovering it.
The evidence presentation interface from the games is in the movie. However, instead of simply yelling "Take That!" and then pointing out the contradicting evidence, Phoenix throws the hologram at his opponent.
Analyzing a bullet is done by throwing it towards the ceiling, where it is suspended in mid-air while several laser beams shoot through it.
Oh Crap: Phoenix gets this look a lot, when something unexpected comes up in court. Maya also gets this look a few times, notably when Yanni Yogi proclaims his innocence, and she believes that her mother really did screw up channeling Edgeworth's father and thus ruined an innocent man's life.
Pragmatic Adaptation: A lot of things were parred down or tweaked to make the first game fit a good running time for a movie. Notably, the first and third cases are cut down to an opening montage to show how Wright and Edgeworth operate in court, leaving room for the second and fourth cases to be meshed together.
The second and fourth cases are even fitted to operate in the 2 hour 15 minute movie, as most details and even characters (April May and Marvin Grossberg) are cut.
Race Lift: Averted for the most part, as the film takes place in Japan (as the game is, if you're not playing the English translation) and all of the actors are accordingly Japanese. On the other hand there's Von Karma, who is meant to be American (or German, depending on which version you play), is played by a Japanese actor.
Since von Karma and his daughter both have Japanese names in the original games, it would be a Race Lift to make them anything but Japanese.
The Reveal: Gregory Edgeworth was in the evidence room to expose von Karma's false evidence, not destroy legitimate pieces. Also, he was killed by von Karma, not Miles.
The Perry Mason Method: Surprisingly subverted, during the cross-examination of Redd White. Even though Phoenix is able to prove that Redd was in Mia's office the exact same time the murder happened, Redd only will admit he was there, and insists that there's no proof he actually committed the crime. While the Judge admits this is true, he also declares Maya "not guilty" because Redd's testimony was clearly false. After the trial, Gumshoe arrests Redd presumably for perjury, and tries unsuccessfully to get more info on the murder out of him.
This also has to do with the fact that Phoenix is fresh out of his diapers and as nervous as hell in the defense's seat in his second trial. This is why the trial lasted as long as it did, as Phoenix didn't squeeze White while he was down.
It also receives a Call Back in the final trial, when von Karma uses exactly the same excuse as White and argues that it can't be proved he killed Gregory Edgeworth because he had no motive to do so. As a sign of how far he's progressed, Wright is able to quickly put together exactly what von Karma's motive was and get him arrested.
Starts with Their Funeral: The movie opens with the reveal that Gregory Edgeworth has been killed, and Misty Fey is channeling his spirit to find out who did it.
Technology Marches On: Somewhat averted compared to the game, where attorneys have access to holograms so they can display evidence and diagrams.
In-universe, the trials of Gregory Edgeworth's time involved giant rusty cyberpunk Takashi Miike CRT monitors that descended from the ceiling. By the time of Miles Edgeworth...it's giant rusty cyberpunk Takashi Miike hologram generators instead.
Villain with Good Publicity: In the public's eye, von Karma is a pretty reasonable individual and he even shakes Phoenix's hand before going into court. What no one knows is he's terribly corrupt behind the bench and will use every underhanded trick to score convictions, which makes him look like a hero of justice to the eyes of the public but the reality is far darker. This is actually something of a change from the games as in the games, he is overtly ruthless and won't even so much as make eye contact unless he wants to intimidate someone.
Villainy-Free Villain: Edgeworth, for the first part of the movie. Lampshaded early on, when a defense attorney he's against accuses him of using underhand tactics. His response is that all of his methods are perfectly legal.
Further lampshaded in the post-credits scene.
Edgeworth: My methods do not violate nor contradict the law, but it does seem to irritate you. Is there a problem?
The tasering of Phoenix and Maya. Those who played the game will know that it was Manfred von Karma. The movie goes out of its way to not show the culprit and thus preserve the mystery, but it doesn't really come up again and is only there to explain the loss off the letter incriminating Yanni Yogi.
Inverted with the evidence Mia finds just before she's killed. In the game, it's hinted to be something pertaining to Redd White's blackmailing, but is implicitly stolen back when he kills her and pretty much forgotten about. In the movie, it's the bullet from Gregory Edgeworth's heart, which is re-discovered by Phoenix in the third act and helps him win the trial.
You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The variety of hair colors from the game are carried over. The incredibly bright red and yellow hair colors of Lotta Hart and Larry Butz stand out in particular, but scanning the courtroom will show a few folks with bright orange and pink hair.