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DVD Review

DVD cover

Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva


Starring (voice): Fumiko Orikasa, Maki Horikita, Nana Mizuki and Yo Oizumi
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: U
Available 18 October 2010

Professor Layton and Luke go sleuthing once again. Following the successful conclusion of his investigation, regarding the theft of Big Ben, the Professor and Luke are at the Professor's residence where he puts on a record, which Luke remembers from a three year old case. The case involved the Professor and Luke being invited to an opera house, with other guests, to solve puzzles. The one who solves all the puzzles will win immortality...

Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva (2010 - 1 hr, 34 min, 51 sec) is an animated film based on the series of popular puzzle games. The film was written by Akihiro Hino and Aya Matsui and directed by Masakazu Hashimoto. According to the film's own introduction this adventure follows the fourth game: Professor Layton and the Specter's Flute. The film is designed to appeal to both fans of the games and the more casual audience.

I did have my reservations about turning what is indisputably a successful puzzle game into a full length film, after all if the narrative is little more than an animated version of the game; this would only interest hardcore fans.

The first thing you notice about the film is the high standard of animation and the fact that the original voice artists, from the games, have been reunited to give it an authentic feel, locking it successfully into the timeline of the games. Although the main characters are limited in their detail this is in perfect keeping with the visual style of the game. However, almost immediately, there are some nice touches of CGI which enhances the overall picture. I didn’t appreciate that the film itself starts with an unashamed advert for the game series, ah, well it doesn’t last long.

After another preamble, which introduces the characters and the sort of thing which Luke and the Professor get up to, we finally get into the main story where Layton is invited by one of his former pupils to attend the opera. More intriguingly she informs him that Janice has been visited by a young girl, Melina Whistler, who claims to have returned from the dead with the secret of eternal life. Layton suspects that something more is going on, especially as Oslo Whistler is performing on the boat and the connection with the search for the lost land of Ambrosia, whose legend says that the population drank a draft which conferred immortality following the death of their queen.

The film has a real charming whimsy about it, true the character designs are somewhat simple, but this is in line with the depiction in the game. Initially, when the prize of eternal life is offered, by a masked man in return for solving puzzles, I though an hour and a half of puzzle solving, whatever its visual qualities, was not going to be compelling watching. However, whilst there are puzzles, they are well integrated into the overall narrative and rarely get in the way of what becomes a rollicking fine adventure.

The single disc DVD (there are a number of different packages you can buy, both on DVD and Blu-ray) has no extras unless you count an animated advert for the new game. The picture is pin sharp and really comes into its own towards the end of the film with the arrival of the CGI robot. Audio is either English 2.0/5.1 or Japanese 2.0/5.1, with subtitles. The film is front heavy for the dialogue at the start of the film, but as the story kicks in there is some nice use of the rears.

Overall, it’s a pretty good film and should appeal to preteen kids and fans of the game. It’s a very family friendly film. In the end I enjoyed the film far more than I thought I would.


Charles Packer

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