What They Say
THE PROFESSOR'S FIRST MOVIE AND HIS TOUGHEST PUZZLE YET. The Professor receives a letter from his old student, the famous opera diva Janice Quatlane who will soon perform at the legendary Crown Petone Opera House. She sends Layton two tickets and invites him to attend as her special guest. Meanwhile, a rash of disappearances hits London. Two young school girls are the latest victims and the Professor suspects it's related to the strange things that are happening at the theatre. As Layton's assistant Emmy stays behind to investigate the case of the missing girls, Layton and Luke travel to the Opera House to solve their toughest puzzle yet, the mystery of Eternal Life! Based on the UK's favourite Nintendo DS game, Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva is a brand new adventure starring the Professor, his loyal assistant Luke and introducing a whole new cast of colourful characters. Produced by Level 5, the creator's of the multi-million selling Professor Layton puzzle games, The Eternal Diva is The Professor's toughest puzzle yet.
This review I actually watched it twice '" one in English, and one in Japanese as the audio had a 5.1 Dolby Release in both languages as well as a standard 2.0 Stereo for both as well. The audio is amazing because pretty much every little thing in both languages can be picked out without going over the dialogue, and with a story like this, it makes everything flow much more naturally. There were no problems regarding transition from audio to video, and I highly recommend when you watch this to use some high quality speakers as you get drawn into the atmosphere. I tried the stereo release as well and whilst it's obviously a bit more subdued and the difference is fairly noticeable, it won't effect anyone's enjoyment of the show as it's still very good quality.
If it was just based on video quality, Professor Layton would get an A. No problem with transition between audio and visual, and as the movie is not your typical animation (combined hand drawn, computer drawn and CGI) it has to be shown well, and it moves flawlessly and looks amazing with the slight widescreen effect giving it a real cinematic experience. No problems with the subtitles either, as very clear in white on a very colourful movie. However, there was one major problem I found '" when you select your choice of audio on the menu screen and then watch it; you cannot change your settings in show. I tried this on 3 systems (my main, my smaller TV and DVD upstairs, and my PC) and you couldn't do it. So if for example, you were watching it in Japanese and forget to put the subtitles on, you couldn't add them from the video and would have to go back to the main menu. It was annoying when on my first viewing, I wanted to switch it to English to check to see if it had the same voices as the game, and couldn't (hence the two watches) so a fairly major niggle for me. However in terms of video quality, it's top notch.
There was no packaging for this test disc.
The menu is very attractive - each menu has an intro of animation from somewhere in the movie, with the main menu of Layton in his trademark thinking pose on a blue background '" it also had a nice introduction beforehand to the next Layton game (in widescreen). Only three selections '" Start, Audio and Chapter, but all are easy to navigate and attractive to look out.
There were no extras on this disc '" however I believe this was the basic DVD I reviewed as the release of Professor Layton will have several collector editions.
The first thing you will notice is the two grades '" the lower grade is basically the critic with no knowledge of the Layton premise and what a newcomer would maybe think of. The higher grade (and my first ever A+) is for Layton fans and just what they can look forward to with this movie. As a big fan of the Professor Layton games, I was apprehensive about the movie as video game movies are hit and miss, with mostly miss throughout the years '" but seeing the trailers and looking straight out of the video game, it did hold a light of optimism in me.
I was not disappointed.
The movie starts with a whole plethora of cameos from the Layton games for the fans to notice, as Layton solves a mystery involving the theft of Big Ben, in what can be described as an anime/game/CGI version of London. It also briefly introduces our main characters Layton and Luke, a charming university professor who is also a master of solving puzzles, and his young apprentice, hoping to someday become a true gentleman like his mentor. For people not familiar with the games, it's a nice, albeit brief, introduction to the characters to get into their psyche which helps people not familiar to get into the movie.
The opening theft was more of a fan tease for fans, because characters like Don Paolo, Inspector Chumley, and Flora sadly don't appear again, as the main crux of the movie begins. After they've solved that mystery, the Professor and Luke return to their flat and play a record, which begins a story told by Layton about a previous case.
Layton's old student, a young woman named Janice, writes that she is performing at an opera with the play called Eternal Life. She says her friend Melina, who had died, has come back to life, as a young girl. In addition, two young girls from the London area have been reported missing, and Janice thinks it's related to the strange things happening at her theatre. With tickets in hand, Layton and Luke go to investigate. They look into the opera house, and discover the pianist of the opera house, Mr. Whistler, is in fact the father of the girl Melina. As the coincidences pile up and Layton gets his thinking cap on, he and Luke head to the opera, and leave Layton's 1st apprentice (to Luke's amusing chagrin) a photographing, wisecracking, ass-kicking woman named Emmy to investigate the missing girls.
The opera seems to be full, as Janice captivates Layton and Luke with her beautiful voice. However for some reason, the rest of the audience seems to be quite bored much to their confusion. Suddenly, the real reason for the packed house becomes apparent, as a masked man comes out and begins talking about he has created a solution to bring immortality. He says they will all play a game, and whoever wins will get the Eternal Life, yet the losers will have to make a sacrifice and die. Needless to say, much panic occurs, and a new inspector named Grosky from Scotland Yard tries to arrest the masked man. However, turns out it was a balloon with a voice over, as the game begins '" in very true Layton style in the form of riddles and puzzles, even accompanied by the Puzzle 001 silhouette, and we even get the movie equivalent of Layton's poses during the game as he thinks things through. Little moments like this will make Layton fans really appreciate the little elements the movie somehow managed to incorporate in the game.
The puzzles involve riddles which if you get it right, you move to another riddle/puzzle, and if you get it wrong, you're apparently sent to your death in the forms of trapdoors. Grosky begins to investigate, but as he does, is pushed over the edge of the ship they are on, and it leads to a running gag as he tries to get back on the shop and avoid eaten by sharks. Back on the ship, some of the guests begin to realize all they have to do is basically follow Layton for their greedy purposes, whilst others try to figure it out on their own. Janice joins Layton and Luke, but the little girl from earlier appears to be the same Melina who had died and brought back to life, and seems upset about Janice bringing Layton here, saying 'it will ruin the game.' As the mysteries deepen especially as Emmy finds more interesting information regarding the link between the missing girls and the cure of eternal life, Layton, Luke, Melina, Janice and the guests who also got past the first two puzzles are sent to a remote island (whilst the others who apparently were killed were actually sent to another island '" with Grosky eventually having to get rescued by Emmy after when he finally gets back on the ship, it explodes). One of the guests, an explorer named Marco, says they are on the famed island of Ambrosia, a legendary island supposedly sunk and had the legend that was similar to the opera, that the queen died before would be able to give the elixir of immortality, so all her followers drank it to wait for the day their queen would return.
The island continues the puzzle theme, with Layton temporarily separating from Luke to basically explore the island himself, getting some of the greedier people eliminated, and begins to realize what this Eternal Life really is. As this happens, the true antagonist of the film appears, the masked man, Jean Descole, a scientist who is trying to resurrect Ambrosia, and wanted to bring some certain people to the island, using the aid of Mr. Whistler. It all involves Amelia and Janice, in a real plot twist of how the eternal life was granted to Amelia was really surprising and caught me off guard, but at the same time was really well told '" with the final third of the movie really giving something for everyone. It combined action (Emmy and Grosky really should audition for a Kill Bill movie), comedy (poor Luke), mystery (the psyche between Janice/Amelia and the truth about Amelia) and a really epic finale involving the attempts to resurrect Ambrosia, the swordfight between Descole and Layton (a throwback to the second game), the CGI animated sequence as his mecha machine attempts to bring Ambrosia back, combined with a wonderful song by Janice (sung by my favourite seiyuu Nana Mizuki) '" everything really links together and I don't want to spoil too much because the real truths between the girls, how Layton solves how to bring Ambrosia to life, and even the very end which had me tearing up a bit as the ending defined bittersweet.