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VINE VOICEon 20 January 2011
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
My daughter is 7. She doesn't have the nintendo game this was derived from. But she absolutely loves it. I don't know why.

The story works for her. It's essentially a series of puzzles a detective has to solve. It has ghosts, a princess and...well, maybe that's why she loves it.

I will be looking for others in the series.

Excellent.
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on 5 June 2015
I want to start off this review by saying that I'm a huge fan of the 'Professor Layton' games. I remember playing 'Professor Layton and the Diabolical/Pandora's Box' for the first time and thinking it was one of the best Nintendo DS games I'd ever played. I later went on to buy all the other games in the series, including the 'Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright' crossover - check out my review for that, too. Honestly, there's nothing about these games I don't like: the puzzles are fun and challenging; the characters are memorable; the stories are mysterious and creative. But what I love most about these games are their animated cut-scenes; I remember seeing them for the first time and being absolutely blown away by how good they were - they made the whole game feel like an animated movie. So when I learned there actually was an animated movie of Professor Layton, I knew I had to buy it. However, with the bad reputation of other films based on video games, would 'Professor Layton' be a noteworthy exception? The answer: Absolutely.
The story begins with the Professor and Luke listening to an opera record, which reminds them of a case they solved three years ago. The narrative then flashes back to a time set during the prequel trilogy of games, which is where the main story takes place. The Professor receives a letter from Janice Quatland, a former student of his, who is now a famous opera singer. According to the letter, Janice's friend Melina Whistler, who died last year, has somehow returned to her in the form of a seven-year old girl. The girl knows things only Melina would know and she claims to have returned because she's been given the gift of "eternal life." Attending the opera, Layton and Luke are suddenly drawn into a life or death game where they, Janice and several other players must solve puzzles in order to survive, and claim the ultimate prize: "the elixir of life". Now the Professor must work out what the contest is really all about, uncover the mastermind behind it and solve the mystery of the Eternal Diva.
I will say this, the movie does a very good job of capturing the same feelings a person would get when playing a real 'Professor Layton' game. The story is creative, if a little farfetched at times; the mystery is baffling, to the point where you can't guess what the big reveal will be at the end; the characters are portrayed the same way as in the games; and of course, it wouldn't be 'Professor Layton' without its signature music, or the Professor dramatically pointing his finger at somebody.
However, as this is a movie and not a game, the experience isn't 'exactly' the same. The biggest difference is in the puzzles. When the story would present a puzzle for the characters to solve, it doesn't really give the audience a chance to solve it along with them. Or if it does, they aren't given a lot time to do it. It's not like in the games where you have hint coins and an unlimited amount of time to solve the puzzles. If you don't solve them quickly enough, then Layton and the others will eventually just give away the answer. What's more, there's only four puzzles in the whole story and once you've seen the movie several times you'll know their answers from memory, which makes things less exciting. They do try to make up for it by playing 'puzzle music' in the background and using the familiar numbering system from the games, but the feeling still isn't the same. If they'd have paused for a moment and allowed more participation from the audience - even spoken to them directly and encouraged them to help solve the puzzles - then that would've been great, and I don't think it would've affected the pacing of the story too badly.
As I mentioned before, the highlight of the 'Professor Layton' games for me is their animated cut-scenes. They are the reason I wanted to see this movie and I wasn't disappointed by what I saw. The film respects the games by using the same 2-D animation style as their cut-scenes throughout the story. However, there are also times when they'd blend in some 3-D, computer animation. The results are absolutely astonishing and really take advantage of the better cinematography of a movie. The movements of the machines look realistic and it's very epic to see 2-D characters in the foreground of a near 3-Dimensional scene - especially when there are explosions in the background. To put it simply, the movie delivers on its animation and then some.
If there was anything I'd have to criticise about the film, it would be that some of the better-know characters don't play as big a role in this as they do in the games. Emmy spends half the adventure somewhere else before suddenly arriving to save the day, Inspector Grosky is just used for comic relief and other characters, like Granny Riddelton, only make brief cameos that are so quick you'll literally miss them if you blink. There is a section at the beginning of the movie where we see characters from the first trilogy of games in all their glory, e.g. Don Paolo, Inspector Chelmey and Barton. But this is brief, too, and we don't see or hear from them again after it's over. It's disappointing because one of my favourite characters from the original series (Flora Reinhold) only has a single word of dialogue in this movie ("Professor?!") and it's not even spoken by her video game voice actor (Lani Manella) - instead it's spoken by Claire Morgan.
In fact that's another issue I have with the film. Although Christopher Robin Miller delivers with his performance as Professor Layton (like always) and Maria Darling is perfect as Luke, one actor who didn't contribute to 'Eternal Diva' was Lani Manella (Luke's American voice actor, and the voice of Emmy and Flora, among others). It might've had something to do with the fact that the film was dubbed and released in the UK first, but since Manella didn't take part, her usual roles had to be filled in by replacements, hence Luke is voiced by his UK counterpart, Maria Darling, and Emmy is voiced by Emma Tate. It's nothing personal against Emma, but I really don't like her portrayal of Emmy in this movie. Her voice just makes Emmy sound too womanly, and not so much the action adventurer we know and love from the games. If you compare her voice to Lani's you can really tell they don't match.
In conclusion, I wouldn't say you have to be a hardcore fan of the 'Professor Layton' games to enjoy this movie; it works well on its own and it can act as an introduction for any newcomers. However, I'd say the story is more for fans who play the games, as only they'll recognise certain characters (or items) that appear. Plus, since the movie ties in with events seen in later games, it helps to know the whole story.
I don't know if there are plans to make any more 'Professor Layton' films, but I hope some day there will be. It's very rare that we see a movie like this, based on a video game, that's actually really good. With a few minor adjustments, it could be considered one of the best animated movies ever made.
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on 21 October 2010
Many of us Professor Layton converts, found ourselves thinking -while playing the games- that they would make enjoyable, enchanting films. Many of us, watching the film, somehow like an amputee still feeling a lost limb, desperately grope for the puzzle-solving, bijou format, private journey of the games.

The film doesn't lack in any of the so Professor Layton things that we've come to love and expect, and it's as enjoyable and enchanting as the previous stories. The whimsical, sentimental elements of the recurring 'lost love' stories and the mad creator driven to destruction are here again, the atmospheric music and settings infuse the whole story, the exquisitely intricate contraptions appear and reappear in all their beauty and mightiness. But we are still groping with that missing hand for the chance to solve the puzzles ourselves (if only they had not been exposed and then resolved within seconds..., if only there had been a few more, or more surprising).

The new array of ever diva-like characters somehow lack the static mystery and strangeness of their game equivalents'. I found that in the film they've become a bit of a crossover between Agatha Christie's "Murder in the Orient Express" characters and the ones in "Ten little Indians", with setting and predicament similarities. Curiously, in a world populated by divas, the Eternal Diva of the title turns out to be the least diva-esque of all, and what actually threw me out of the story and its spell was to hear this diva sing a very flimsy song in Japonese, a far cry from the imagined prima donna belting out an operatic aria.

I hope Professor Layton and the now many potential platforms it will surely expand into doesn't end up watering down and losing its original essence to become more generic anime.
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VINE VOICEon 23 October 2010
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a big fan of The Professor Layton DS games having completed both The Curious Village and Pandora's Box I was very interested to see how the DVD would compare without the interactivity of the games and if the moving storylines would continue into the movie. Although the movie is based on the games, it's really not essential to have played them to understand it.

The movie follows Professor Layton and his Apprentice (Number 1) Luke as they recall a case from three years ago helping opera singer Janice Quatlane. Invited to the opera, the Professor and Luke find themselves in a game with the winner receiving a gift which everyone in the audience wants to win. Getting a puzzle wrong means game over but who is behind these games and why?

There are recognisable characters from the games and it looks like Claudia the cat even makes an appearance from Pandora's Box. Unlike the games though, there are only 4 puzzles to be solved. I was a little disappointed in them as they weren't as puzzling as the games although this makes them a little more accessible to the younger audience. I'd recommend pausing the DVD shortly after the puzzle is given out however as it's not too long before a solution is found. I did like the fact they are titled 001 etc like the game. While the puzzles are completed quite early on in the movie there is still a lot to be discovered and there is quite a nice overall message. You need to keep watching past the credits too as the story links back to the beginning.

The animation is very true to the game and flows better than them as they do get broken up quite a bit having to solve so many puzzles before the story can move on. The buildings are instantly recognisable as those similar to the games and although a couple scenes in the movie are something more likely to be seen in a Sonic game with CGI effects, works well overall. While the movie is quite serious and includes a characters coping with death, there are some comedic moments bound to get a laugh.

Is it the toughest puzzle for Professor Layton? I wouldn't really say it was but it was still worth watching. Unfortunately there are no extras included on the DVD - might have been nice to have a few puzzles to solve other than just chapter selection and Japanese/English audio options. It's rated U with some mild violence but I don't think young children are going to understand much of it. If you are considering whether to get the DVD or one of the games, I'd recommend a game.
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on 24 October 2010
Ever since I played the second Professor Layton game, I've become a permanent fan of the series, and even more so after the third game. So when I heard the movie was to be dubbed and released in the UK, I knew I had to open my laptop in the US, reach across the pond and grab myself a copy, region coded or not. Suffice it to say, it was another worthy volume to add to the collection of the professor's exploits.

Story: In typical Layton fashion, the professor and Luke are invited to attend an unusual event, in this case a play depicting the search for eternal life. According to Janice Quatlane, the star of the show and Layton's former student, her deceased friend Melina has seemingly achieved that goal, rising from the grave in the form of a 7-year-old girl. The play itself is merely a front for a competition, the winner of which will also receive eternal life, while those who fail will find their lives forfeit.

The story itself is certainly engaging, but unique in this case in that the viewer truly has no input into the goings on of the plot, quite unlike the games. The movie attempts to compensate for this by hosting a few puzzles sprinkled throughout the action, more often than not providing enough time for the viewer to mull it over as the characters do. Their presentation, especially in the first challenge, will definitely draw out some sweet nostalgia for those who have played the games. As it stands, it really is more of a character piece than a true mystery begging to be solved; a chance to see Layton's charm and skill, Luke's precocious energy, and the supporting characters' quirks and foibles brought to life in an easily accessible feature film format.

Acting: For those curious as to how the English dub of a full-length Layton movie turned out, there's no need to fear. The title character, played by Christopher Robin Miller as he does in both the UK and US versions of the games, carries the role with the same success here, bringing as much warmth and gentlemanly grace as can be hoped for. For viewers of an American persuasion, be aware that Layton's apprentice Luke is voiced by Maria Darling of the UK games rather than Lani Minella of the US. While it takes some getting used to, with Darling's Luke sounding much higher and slightly raspy compared to Minella's lower and softer portrayal, it's easy to be drawn into the energy and authenticity she brings. The other actors vary from quite good to acceptable, and no one turns in a horrid performance. The same is true of the original Japanese cast.

I only wish that more of an effort could have been made to coordinate the words spoken with the body and mouth movements. There are moments where a character will be moving their lips with no sound to be heard, and vice versa, especially which shifting between poses. There's even a point where Layton exclaims "This is it!" while ending on a mouth fully open in an O shape; perhaps a line closer to "There we go!" would have made a better choice. Perhaps this was meant to be closer to the looser dubbing style of the Japanese actors without an exact focus on the number of mouth flaps, but it could stand a bit more tightening up.

Special Features: The 3-disk set includes on the final disk a few documentaries on the making of the film itself and some insight on the creative process of the Layton series in general. We get a look inside Level-5's studio where the games and stories are developed, OLM where the CG work is done with an additional video illustrating the set building process, and P.A. Works for the traditional animation. These add up to about 20 minutes, so in total they paint a broad picture of the work that goes into the series. Also included is a demonstration of the main songs of the movie and how they harmonize with each other, as well as a short summary about such songs in real life, but as they feature heavily into the plot, I won't say more. A short puzzle wraps up the features, and supposedly ties into the movie's web page to unlock an additional feature, though the key to unlocking that mystery currently eludes me.

The main draw of the deluxe edition, besides the immaculate packaging of the box and sleeve, is the entire storyboard for the film in a 630-page book. The contents are left entirely untranslated and unaltered, preserving the integrity of the notes as originally written, but making it hard to understand without side-by-side comparison to the subtitles of the feature. The artwork of the boards is understandably simple and rough, serving to show the basic emotions and movements of the characters, the environment, props and camera angles. The pages are about the size of the DVD case, and with 4 panels to a page, it shouldn't be too difficult to see all the details. I would advise being careful handling it, as a paper-bound book with that many pages is always in danger of splitting if opened too wide or roughly. Needless to say, it serves as a very interesting look deeper into the creativity poured into the film. However, at double the price of the 3-disk set and for its unpolished nature, it certainly isn't for everyone.

Technical: The image quality on both DVDs is quite nice and clear, even on my native NTSC system. Sound on the feature DVD is 5.1 and 2.0 English and Japanese, the latter including subtitles for a literal translation of the Japanese script. Strangely, it seems impossible to change language or turn subtitles on or off while the movie plays, which makes switching between the two more difficult. The credits for the English adaptation are found on the Kaze logo of the main page, which leaves the text of the movie's credits in its original state. I'd love to be able to watch the Blu-Ray disk and see how the quality improves, but perhaps someone will shed some light on that soon enough.

So to all Professor Layton fans, no matter you location, I urge you to pick out any of the available copies of this ultimately charming film.
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on 18 November 2010
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've never played the Professor Layton games so I watched the film from a completely fresh perspective, without any pre-dispositions. And I actually rather enjoyed it.

I am a big fan of anime and particuarly studio ghibli films, and while Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva features some of the eccentricities of Hayao Miyazaki and co., it also offers its own unique charm. I found myself wanting to play the games and delve deeper into his world. The story is certainly engaging and deals with some challenging topics - like mysticism and death - so may not be suitable for kids. But don't let that put you off because there are plenty of laughs to be had as well.

Some might be disappointed by the lack of character development, but the characters are suitably engaging and colourful to keep you interested. As is the voice acting which is for the most part spot on. The animation is cartoonish and doesn't feature the richness or grand design of other anime films, but the backgrounds and landscapes are nevertheless beautifully done.

Professor Layton's first foray onto the big screen might not reach the heights of its kin but offers a great family romp with plenty of puzzles to keep your mind warmed up on these cold nights.
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on 2 January 2016
A movie that also presents a series of challenged for a viewer to solve.

For fans of professor Layton, or people (adult or child) who enjoy trying to solve fairly fair-play mysteries on their own. The dvd is itself not interactive but the story allows pauses after a challenge is set and clues are presented (the characters wait a short time onscreeen or you can pause the movie until your team figures it out).
This may be a little slow for people who don't know the characters or might be sleepy :)
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on 26 July 2013
Admittedly, I have never played a Professor Layton game. But, that certainly didn't stop me from enjoying this film.

The film revolves around the eponymous Professor and his apprentice, Luke as they try to solve the mystery of the 'Fountain of youth'.

Layton claims to be a gentlemen, however, I have noticed that:
1) He never takes his hat off indoors.
2) He points accusingly at a young lady.
What's the deal professor? Did you end finishing school too early?

Joking aside, the film does really well in keeping true to the puzzle solving nature of the games. In certain areas of the film, the characters are set puzzles (which, you the viewer can solve). It isn't done in an annoying DVD interactive way, where the film stops and the characters say "Hmmm... I wonder whether the viewer at home could solve this". It could have gone down that route, but I'm glad it didn't. The puzzle is explained to the characters (therefore we gain an understanding) and it shows their thought processes, where we can join in whilst watching it.

A lot of people complain about the ending of this film. That the grande finale is unsuited for a professor Layton game. In truth, I have only seen clips of the games on youtube, so I can't quite confirm this, myself. I will say that the ending is quite typical of an anime film (like any given One piece film). Personally, I didn't mind the ending. It didn't take anything away from the viewing experience.

A final note, the musical score, voice acting and animation style are all fantastic. I'm just glad that there is a film with Americans doing English accents and they don't go for that 'Great Expectations Accent'. You know what I mean. "Well 'ello thare, oo's this lit'le man then?" The accent is treated with dignity and sounds quite authentic in my opinion.

I hope that they make more of these films.
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on 28 November 2011
I love the professor Layton games and could not wait for the film. I was correct to be anticipating it for so long, because the film is truly great. The animation is beautiful and the voice acting is great. The plot is also intiguing and offers alot for various re-wachings. So why a 3? You may be thinking. Well it's the DVD. I was incredibly dissapinted with what is to be found on the disc. There are no special features of any kind, but it does give you the opportunity to watch in Japanese with English subs. I was truly dissapointed, no commentaries, behind the scenes or bonus clips of any sort. That is why it is a three. If all you want is the film this is well worthwhile, (But I do recommend the blu ray edition if possible) bu if you want more, prepare to be dissapointed.

3 out of 5:

+ Great animation
+ Great story
- No special features
- Of any kind!!!
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VINE VOICEon 23 December 2010
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'm a huge fan of the Professor Layton games on the DS, so I was intrigued to see how they'd handle it as a film. As you'd expect, the Prof and his plucky assistant encounter mysteries and mysterious puzzles on their adventure, which actually works! Nice to see they've got the same voice actors as the game too, and the same quirky animation style. Particularly loved the guy with the huge chest hair!

My 9 year old son and I loved it. He enjoyed it so much he watched it again immediately afterwards. Great fun.
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