When it comes to video games there’s various things I love about the industry from Atlus (specifically their Persona and Shin Megami Tensei series), Nintendo, Naughty Dog, and Hideo Kojima. There is also many things I absolutely loathe in the certain direction it’s taking from EA, Ubisoft, always online drm, and the pay to play model. It’s this general uncertainty about the industry that I rarely ever write about videogames or devote as much attention to them as I once used too. So when something simply called “Video Game: The Movie” is direct to the point of course I would see it since it’s history is one aspect I’ve held an interest towards. Sadly the film is only partially about videogames history which it does rather poorly in explaining certain contributions and when it comes right down to it this film just glorifies its culture.
Video Games: The Movie aims to educate audiences about how video games are made, marketed, and consumed by looking back at gaming history and culture through the eyes of game developers, publishers, and consumers. In the early goings of the documentary the slick plethora of animated infographics and an effective opening-credits sequence that details the evolution of games over time shows promise. Slowly explaining certain aspects like graphic bits and statistics on the average gamer. For the first eight minutes the presentation is slick and focused, but then as it progresses it’s made clear there’s no directed goal. This documentary biggest issue is in it structure. In the beginning the documentary looks at the history of videogames and makes it first fatal mistake of giving rushed summarization of significant contributions. In some cases overlooking some achievements from certain consoles. For example, it fails to mention the Sega’s Dreamcast contribution towards the industry for being the first home console to include a built-in modem, the first home console to support online gaming, and the first home console to support an MMORPG. If a non fully committed gamer like myself knows that fact without ever touching a Dreamcast console what makes you think this documentary will do a proper job of providing insight on videogames history. If removing quotes from Retamas Gandhi, Nicolas Tesla, and John F. Kennedy (who loved JFK: Reloaded) what the documentary aimed to achieve remains muddle. Over sighting important information causally in order to use to lesser effect later on. By not following a nonlinear format in its presentation of videogames history aspects of it will be loss to non-gamers coming across as shallow. How it presents it history will cause confusion in its constant jump from years to years. Poorly getting across what the technological differences from a Nintendo NES to a Sony’s Playstation among other things. The insights provided can be sometime insightful, but are too often glib and come at the expense of the film relaying the events at hand to the viewer. For example, you could come away from the section on game violence with no knowledge that the fight made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
If the documentary aimed to be one thing there wouldn’t be this full length review criticizing it. Unfortunately since it attempts to highlight certain aspects of videogame culture its aimed is bigger than what it grasped. Once again the usage of it timeline does a disservice to the structure and the viewers. In one moment the documentary is addressing the media blaming video games for violence and the next it’s celebrating vudeogames. It’s emotion is all over the place without feeling connected to each other. Another issue is it priorities when it comes to who’s speaking on the subject. Someone important as Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell whose contribution to videogames is very significant receives less screen time than actor Donald Faison who hasn’t contribute to videogames in any shape. All the interviews sadly focus more on big stars than actual known videgame developers. There are several montages of video game trailers and gameplay footage that can on for minutes which also constitute as bad transitions. If you happen to be interested in any of the games in the montages you won’t have their name listed anywhere in the film. If the director does anything correctly it is conveying the passion of the fans and game designers he interviewed. For many games are much more than just a hobby, and that love and enthusiasm shows through. However, that segment isn’t enough to make up for the rest of documentary that says “All area of gaming is great” in a propaganda manner. For non-gamers it’ll come across that way because the documentary is filled with nothing, but good words about video games therefore doing harm in not providing a fair view on the subject matter more negative aspects. Every area it wants to discuss on the subject either misses relaying information to the viewer or is sloppily delivered because of it poor choice of its own structure.
Video Games: The Movie is too glamorize in its poor representation of gaming culture that it’s slick production values make it come across as one giant commercial. The whole structure of the documentary is sloppy jumping from certain subjects and specific years that muddles it message. If one thing it does express correctly is conveying gamers passion for video games going beyond simply enjoying playing games and touching on the more social aspect of gaming. It’s just a shame that same passion wasn’t shared by its filmmakers to make an engaging film on the same subject matter these gamers care so much for.
Capcom’s “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney” video game franchise has a small, but devoted fan base. The game themselves are known for being strong adventure games, having great presentation, music, and dialog, while at the same time criticized for being too linear, lacking replayability, and little in the way of innovation with each installments. What makes this adaptation questionable is this being director Takashi Miike second video game film adaption. His first was “Yakuza: Like A Dragon” which as a fan of the Sega franchise nailed the look, but failed in the story department. For Ace Attorney, Miike learns from some of his past mistakes to craft a decent film that can appeal to both fans of the video game franchise and the uninitiated.
Ace Attorney plot follows rookie Defendant Phoenix Wright, as he tackles a series of cases that slowly unfurl to reveal a twisted plot that stretches back several years ago. One thing that translates to the big screen successfully are it court cases and mysteries. As the further it moves along the more plot thickens while keeping you guessing. Throwing you off with twists and short usage of light supernatural elements. In the opening, we see a women being possessed and get introduced to a character be possessed by ghosts for a job profession whose only in used whenever it plot needs a push. Court trials are always high in creativity. Without being set into the real world trials are depicted like large sport events with a highly reactive crowd, CRT monitors that show evidence with holograms, and the varied personality of the witnesses. These trails session bring to center all the evidence gathered for a battle of wits between attorneys that goes back and forth in whose favor the case is in. Having five court cases these kind of scenes supply the film finest moments of writing even if some odd elements are in play. The weakest area is characterization being slim. Some backstory is given on why Phoenix Wright became an attorney and the relation between some of his friends. However, such moments become buried as the film thickens the mystery and court cases it forgets about its characters. They are likable characters, but not won’t leave as much of an impression as the court cases and mysteries do.
Takashi Miike is very faithful to the visuals of the game while making necessary changes. This is the very reason for one of the film’s most obvious additions, the holographic evidence windows. Ostensibly made to emulate the game’s court record, they do far more by creating a way to make even the most mundane piece of evidence exciting and engaging. They also serve to set the time period, with comically large CRT monitors being used in flashbacks. Everything from the game is captured from the clothing, the locations, down to the varied hairstyles. The distinguishing hairdos get embellished right out of the realm of the possible, and are even used for some of the best jokes. But despite the spoofy approach the drama surrounding these characters still gets treated with a lot of respect, and the film retains a lot of heart because of that. Hiroki Narimiya gives a terrific comedic performance underneath the awesomely aerodynamic haircut. He creates a great contrast between a look that’s supposed to evoke the slick, confident attorney and the knowledge that he is in way over his head. Akiyoshi Naako is a good foil as Wright’s junk-dealer friend Larry Butz, while Takumi Saito plays Phoenix’s opposite number as an ideal combination of smugness and dedication. There are a lot of other great little supporting turns, too, from Mirei Kiritani’s charming Maya to Mitsuki Tanimura’s brash Lotta Hart and Ryo Ishibashi’s intimidating Von Karma. Music wasn’t one of traits that translated into the adaptation. Granted they adds a lot in making courts trails far more exciting than most films do, but aren’t as memorable for most tracks go for being loud over having a building rhythm.
Ace Attorney translates the video game series onto the big screen emulating the appeal of the series. Not only does it closely resemble the game series visuals, but also written in a way that will satisfy fans of the game and is accessible for newcomers. It’s a step forward for video adaptations that shows respect to both the material and its fan base without alienating its audience.
In the world of video game movie adaptations the existence of an ‘Animal Crossing’ movie escaped my knowledge. I never played the video games therefore never followed the franchise, but to those who haven’t either here some condense background. ‘Animal Crossing’ is a video game franchise developed and published by (the almighty) Nintendo. It’s a popular series made famous by it’s opened ended gameplay in which players have no defined objectives, but are instead encouraged to spend their time in the village performing any number of activities, which include collecting items, planting plants or other items, and socializing with the village’s residents. A life simulator that isn’t known exactly for its plot, yet work s as a fun and relaxing film even if it doesn’t have a cohesive story.
Animal Crossing: The Movie is about Ai, a self-reliant girl that moves to Animal Village. Simplicity is the route taken with a slice of life format to its narrative. It’s not so much telling a story as it is stringing together a series of random scenes. This is made evident in the first twenty minutes of the film as Ai unwillingly accepts a job to make delivery in Animal Village literally minutes after arriving. Throughout her delivery run we’re introduced to a colorful cast of characters without tying this plot point to anything in the grand scheme of things. All the inhabitants in Animal Village have a kind heart even if at times the hard shells says otherwise. Giving off a sort of utopia vibe as the community provides a sense of welcome and warmth presence to anyone who visits. Inviting the viewer to just lose themselves in Animal Village. Something that’s easy to do with likable characters each with a charming quirk to them from the major whose lousy in publicizing himself for an election to a human boy who likes dressing up in different costumes. It’s easy to get lost in a film that is so welcoming with humor and drama added into the mixture. Flaws are apparent without requiring much thought to point them out. Like Ai (our protagonist) background is left vague and her motivation to move to Animal Village is not fleshed out. Conflict is non-existent in the film until the climax, but even then to resolve the conflict is voluntary with no consequences for the central characters nor any supporting characters involved. The same applies to introducing several subplots and leaving them hanging for long durations even going as far as forgetting to resolve a couple of them. Misdirecting lessons it was trying get across possibly being interpreted negatively.
The film has a chibi art style to which basically means all characters have over sized heads. Animals are anthropomorphic with human traits. Although it’s never made clear in regard to clothing as some animals wear clothes and other don’t for reasons left unexplained. Sure the animals don’t have genitalia, but they are still walking around naked. Color palette is lush and colorful. There’s hardly any usage of dark colors in the environment. Always looking pleasant even if the event in the plot says otherwise. Movement is minimalistic looking chopping at times. Backgrounds offer variety changing along with the according season in the film subtly showing the progression of time. Kazumi Totaka score normally gives the feel of a summer environment, with its use of mellow acoustic guitars, accordions, and bongo drums among others. Voice acting is nothing noteworthy. Yui Horie who voices Ai gets across the character innocence and eager personality. Sounding exactly like a ten year old would. Other voice actors are in the same line of playfulness in their performances. There’s a couple of voice actors (one of them oddly being director Takashi Miike) that speak regularly without exaggeration to their voices that work in the film more dramatic scenes. Compare to the other actors the less exaggerated voices don’t leave much of impression, but do appropriately add range in a energized cast.
Animal Crossing: The Movie doesn’t offer a cohesive story, but is a pleasant slice of life film. It has a cast of likable characters and the atmosphere is calming right down to the pleasant music. A cohesive story won’t be found in Animal Crossing: The Movie, but does serves as a nice distraction for anyone looking to lose themself in another world.