The US premiere for this movie coincided with the release of the game, Professor Layton and the Last Spector which was on Oct. 17, the following monday. To promote both the movie and the game, VizMedia in conjunction with Nintendo pulled out all the stops for this. It just surprised me that they were promoting it on such an exclusive level…with very little announcements and seating availability. It was also the only event (away from the Press only interviews) that allowed for press seating. (However, the turnout for press coverage was very few. I assume VizMedia wanted more media coverage for this since there was so many press seats, but definitely, the room filled due to all the fans.)
We were greeted by Professor Layton and his
assistant apprentice, Luke. Actually, there were two sets of cosplayers.
At the side of the room, DS systems with the Last Spector game was on for people to play and preview. Knowing my own ineptitude with puzzles, I forgo the preview and just watched everyone else play.
The back area was the reception stand with a popcorn machine, an oven with servers preparing popcorn and fresh piping hot chocolate chip cookies. Drinks were on the other side with bottled water with the words ‘Eternal Life’ on them, hinting at the movie we were about to see. All this while listening to the soundtrack of the game playing in the background.
After everyone was seated, we were asked to put on our foam hats for a photo and then the events began. By the way, instead of the usual ‘cheese’ spoken when the photo was taken, we were asked to say ‘Splendid’ and later ‘Mysterious’. That was fun. (During one the takes, one of the fans shouted out ‘Objection!’ referencing another video game character who loves to point…. XD)
The host pointed out the bottled water of ‘Eternal Life’ and warned us that “you might have long life if you drink it all…or even if you have a sip.” Of course, explanations are forestalled with the promise that all will be revealed during the movie.
Trivia questions were thrown out to the audience with the winners receiving a free copy of the game which will be sent to their house (since the game was not released at that time.) Professor Layton was asked to spot who raised their hand the fastest. “A gentleman always accepts.” In true Professor Layton fashion, the difficultly of the question was indicated by picarats.
- Q: What was Luke’s last name?
Q: 40 Picarats – In the second Professor Layton video game, which animal was used on the symbol on the lost book?
Q: 30 Picarats – Which town did Professor Layton visit in the second video game?
Q: In Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, Professor Layton goes to Scotland Yard to do research. When he did that, which room was he in?
A: Archive room
The host requested that there be no spoiler information of the movie since the movie itself will be released on Nov. 8. Cellphones were asked to be turned off, media was asked to not spoil and Layton hats were asked to be removed (unlesss you were sitting in the last row). The speaking portion of the event concluded with the announcement that everyone will be receiving a Professor Layton and the Last Spector t-shirt along with a slider puzzle at the end.
The movie was in English with English subtitles at the very bottom. (The staff apologized for not being able to remove the subtitles. It wasn’t there when they test-runned the movie, but for whatever reason, it was stuck during the official run.) The voice actors for Professor Layton and Luke were the same as the games. The other recurring characters from the game had different voice actors in the movie though. However, those who play the game and watch the movie may not find it jarring since the voices were similar and suited the character very well.
The story itself was very well done, the writer of the games being the same as the movie. And as such, it fits very well into the games. Timeline-wise, the story takes place right after The Last Spector. Professor Layton and Luke embark on a mystery, with this being Luke’s first as Layton’s self declared apprentice. The setting begins on a stage in a theater. There is a bid for eternal life with the challenge that may lead to death. However, things aren’t as they seem, typical of a mystery and the surprises come one after another. The mystery is quite good with clues hidden throughout granting viewers a chance to follow Layton’s deductions on who is behind it all. Of course, the game is all about the puzzles and people may wonder how that would be in a movie. I will simply say that it was incorporated very well into the storyline. (And when they did appear, the audience laughed.)
There is a steady stream of action dispersed with quiet drama that keeps the story flowing. The animation itself is fluid with well choregraphed moments of intense action. Critics have commented on the obvious use of CG throughout the entire movie, but I personally don’t find it jarring or feel that it takes away from the atmosphere of the scenes.
One thing to remember, this series was created for children. Some comical or even serious moments may require a suspension of disbelief and acceptance. However, those moments reflects innocence and always, the movie touches upon feelings that people of all ages are able to understand.
For those that have not played the games, the movie is easy to follow and can be an entity on it’s own. Recurring characters are introduced at the very beginning so those who are not familiar with the series can still understand. Of course, there are objects, characters in the background that fans can recognize that callback to the games. (Though timeline-wise, those objects are almost spoilers for the game since they come into play later on.) Like the antique box in Professor Schrader’s office….
*coughspoilercough* In true Japanese omake fashion, there is a scene at the very end, after the credits. Of course, everyone in the audience didn’t move when the credits rolled. I guess everyone knew. It’s a quiet scene to close the framing of the movie. The credits itself is worth watching since similar to the credits at the end of the games, they reveal the what happens to the characters.
As promised, we were handed t-shirts and slider puzzles. The entire experience was a wonderful way to close the evening.