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Is Takashi Miike’s “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney” the “Scott Pilgrim” of Japanese cinema?

Is Takashi Miike’s “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney” the “Scott Pilgrim” of Japanese cinema? (photo)

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While I’m a fairly big video gamer, I never owned a Nintendo DS, and because of that, I never really got a chance to play one of the system’s most unique titles, 2005’s “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.” Combining both touchscreen and microphone support, “Phoenix Wright” allowed you to play as an ambitious defense attorney, navigating through investigations and trials as you attempted to absolve a series of rotating clients. The game was highly praised for its innovative gameplay and its ability to bring a true crime drama to a handheld device.

Back in June we told you that acclaimed director Takashi Miike was set to direct the Japanese adaptation of “Phoenix,” and now we have the first trailer. While there are no English subtitles, one thing is clear: Miike is determined to integrate the game’s fundamental look and feel into his film. Graphics flutter across the screen and the characters’ exaggerated expressions have all transitioned their way to the movie.

All that immediately raises comparisons to another genre film, last year’s “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.” Director Edgar Wright won fan raves by sticking to much of the comic book’s original essence and adding in substantial video game elements, such as sound effects, graphics and quick cuts that simulated comic panels.

Miike’s “Phoenix Wright” does resemble “Pilgrim” — at least the trailer does — which raises the question: can his film succeed where Edgar Wright failed? Much of what made diehard fans love “Scott Pilgrim” — all those aforementioned nods to the source material — managed to turn off regular audiences, and the film was a high-profile box office bomb. Obviously Miike is dealing with a different audience, but “Scott Pilgrim” died a quick death in Japan as well. Was that because they didn’t know the comic book? Or were they as turned off by the filmmaking style as American audiences?

We don’t know yet how representative the trailer is of the rest of the film, but Miike is walking the same tightrope as Edgar Wright. He does have more things working for him, though. The Japanese market is obviously much smaller than North America, meaning if even a fraction of those who purchased the games turn out to theaters, it could be enough to float the film. Also, the Japanese public as a whole is more technology-geared than Americans and the country also houses two of the largest console makers, meaning a movie that plays up its video game roots could be accepted more readily.

Overall though, the movie’s success will probably boil down to whether it tells a good story. But as Edgar Wright found out, sometimes wrapping that story around a completely faithful ode to the source material could spell the difference between a film’s life and death.

Let us know your thoughts on the “Phoenix Wright” movie in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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