For years we have gotten several bad movies based on videogames (*cough* Super Mario Bros.). You would think making a movie based on a videogame would be as easy as making a movie out of a book, but apparently it is not. Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, based on the hit-selling DS games, shows that making a good videogame movie is not impossible.
The movie takes place between the games Professor Layton and the Last Specter and Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask. Professor Layton has received a letter from an old student of his named Janice who now performs at an opera. The letter tells about how a friend of Janice named Melina died a while ago. A while later, a little girl comes to Janice claiming that she is Melina who has been giving the gift of eternal life. The professor, along with his apprentice Luke, goes to the opera to investigate. The story is filled with surprises and is very much like the actual games. Though I would recommend playing the games first, it doesn’t seem like you need to play them in order to understand the movie.
This film is made in Japan, so it features an anime style animation. That being said, the animation is incredible and takes a step further than the games’ anime cutscenes.
Unfortunately, though the style of anime looks great, it leads to some rather awkward dialogue. Unlike most anime films, the English dubbing is actually pretty good. However, there are a few instances where the dialogue seems rather strange, such as the professor deducing who the villain was because of a dark, gloomy castle.
Perhaps the only other real problem with the movie is the fact that there was never an American dub, so everyone has their British actors. If you’ve played the games, the only voice you will be able to recognize is Professor Layton’s. This wouldn’t be a big problem if it wasn’t for the fact that Luke’s British actress is incredibly annoying.
The music in the movie, however, is great. With a very European style soundtrack, the music features very catchy tunes. One of the only problems with the music is that even though the song Janice sings sounds good, it was never translated from the Japanese. I’m not sure she’s performing in a Japanese opera, but by what I’m gathering, she’s not.
Warning: massive spoilers in the next paragraph
The movie is very clean despite the fact that the theme is eternal life (not referring to the biblical kind). Throughout the movie, you think that it might be possible to have eternal life, but, like the other Layton games, the climax reveals that it was all fake. There is some fighting, and the main villain appears to fall of a ledge and die, but Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (another spoiler alert!) reveals he survived. The film unfortunately supports evolution as the professor at one point says that the stars are billions of years old. At one point in the movie, you see a guy in his underwear. Though there is no language in the film, the subtitles (which don’t match the dialogue) say “My God” and “Thank God.”
Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva is both a great videogame movie and a great anime movie. Though, I would have appreciated the inclusion of some bonus features, the story is very good, the animation is incredible, and the music is great. The creators should also get points for not making a bad videogame movie. Overall, this is a great movie for Professor Layton fans.