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DVD Review: Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva

March 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Hello everyone! I hope you had a fantastical year so far! You probably forgotten about me because these holidays I was either working or too damn lazy to make a post, which clearly is a terrible failure on my part… well enough of self-loathing! I am de_geso893 from otakudownunder.wordpress.com and  I plan on reviewing a bulk of anime that was sent to me by Kidd over the Christmas break (thanks Dennis!). I’ll kick of the reviews with the movie Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva! And finally I hope you have a safe and awesome year!

I have to admit I have never played a single Professor Layton game despite owning a Nintendo DS (first generation to be exact). Watching the movie seemed out of the question for me. At first I thought it would be like watching a movie based of a popular video game without actually playing the game itself, which normally leads to confusion and inevitably less appreciation of the movie. I’ve had some bad experiences with video games having their own movie, especially the other way round. Companies like Disney feel compelled to have a video game released along with their new movie no matter how bad or incomplete the game is, as games based off a movie tend to be rushed, half-hearted and low-budget. This however was how I felt about Professor Layton prior to watching it, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised!

The Professor receives a letter from his former student, a famous opera singer known as Janice Quatlane about to perform at the Crown Petone Opera House. Both Layton and his young student Luke are invited to help her solve a mystery surrounding her deceased friend that has returned as a young child, claiming that she has received the elixir of  eternal life. Shortly after the performance, a mysterious man claims that he has the secret to eternal life and is willing to grant it to the winner of his game. Now Professor Layton and Luke must compete in a mind-game and solve the greatest mystery of all: the secret to eternal life!

Even though I never played the game, the beginning explained the Professor Layton universe without going into long and excessive detail. It gave me enough background to understand the characters and the charisma of Professor Layton, especially by starting of with a small puzzle to give a taste of what the movie is all about. Although it introduced some characters that were never further explored, possibly because they were referencing some characters within the game which made me feel a little left out.

What I liked: the problem with some murder/mystery films is that the story can become horribly convoluted, with a mystery thrown into the heap somewhere. The story in the Eternal Diva was easy to follow, and all the plot twists felt justified. Fortunately, I didn’t have to back-track to different segments just to grasp the concept. The objective was straight-forward and it didn’t sacrifice the plot for a pointless clue or fight scene.

I also liked the eccentric character designs, It felt like a good change of pace and gave off a unique personality to each character. The side characters were very interesting and had their own motivations and reasons for partaking in this dangerous game. It also worked well with the 19th century London setting, becoming apparent that Professor Layton gives off a Sherlock Holmes sort of personality which adds to the personality of the film. It also adds diversity by changing locations from the crowded London streets to the mysterious tropical island, which didn’t feel forced or unnecessary as it was actually relevant to the plot.

Now I do love a good mystery. Although the puzzles were relatively simple at times, some of them were surprisingly well thought-out and cunning which required you to think outside the box (along with a few “I see what you did there” puzzles).

What I didn’t like: there wasn’t much to not like about this movie, but then again no movie is without flaw. This film does contain 3D effects in certain scenes, and I felt it was inconsistent at times. It looked strange compared to the drawn 2D background and didn’t run so smoothly. This may seem like a minor issue but unless done right, it really makes me uneasy.

The beginning of the movie introduces several characters that remain unvisited throughout the rest of the movie, which was misleading and didn’t exactly establish the cast until later in the movie. Also some of the rival characters could have had more of  a back story on their own motives, rather than just being “killed off”.

Bottom line: overall it was an enjoyable film for what it was. Since I had never actually played the game, I felt I couldn’t truly appreciate the movie. Since I don’t plan on playing the game at any stage of my life, I doubt I would see this film in a different light. I recommend this to those familiar with the game as they can truly appreciate it, although actually playing the game is not absolutely necessary. This movie is also good for a younger audience, as the puzzles aren’t too difficult and the story is fairly easy to follow. I wouldn’t consider this film to be in my top anime movies, but it is ultimately entertaining (which is the most important factor for a successful film obviously). This film appeals to a wide audience and has the vibe of a family film, appealing to both the Professor Layton fandom and the family genre.

Positives: 
+Easy to follow story
+Nice character designs and setting
+Puzzles are fairly consistent and cunning

Negatives:
-3D sequences are odd in comparison to 2D
-Forgettable characters/villains
-Unexplained characters
-Not playing the game may tarnish the experience

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Categories: Anime Reviews