When video games become movies it is often not a good thing. Animated films seem to fare better than live action ones, but even then the crap far outweighs anything of quality. Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, though it is far from perfect, falls pretty far up the quality side of the spectrum. Professor Layton is in some way the perfect game to make the jump to film, since it’s story and gameplay are wholly separate. For the most part it does work as a movie. Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva is, for better or worse, a film that could have easily been the plot to the next game in the series.
For those unfamiliar with Professor Layton (first you should rectify that like now) the series follow the exploits of archaeology professor and puzzle enthusiast Hershel Layton and his trusty apprentice Luke as they travel across Europe (mostly the U.K, though) solving elaborate mysteries. Every game adds new characters, all rendered in the series ugly, lumpy, utterly charming style. Recent additions are Emmy, Inspector Grosky and Descole, all of whole play large roles in the movie. While the gameplay consists entirely of puzzles, the stories are fantastical and ridiculous adventure fare. Eternal Diva ramps up the ridiculousness even more than most of the game, eliciting as many eye rolls as delighted smiles.
In the film, the titular professor receives a letter from a former student, an opera singer, who asks him to come and investigate at her next performance. This turns into a contest to win the secret of immortality learned from the Atlantis-like civilization of Ambrosia. It gets crazier from there, with organ powered robot castles and whisky barrel helicopters. It does retain the charm of the game’s core cast; from the eager Luke to the excitable Emmy to the ever calm Layton the gang is just as likable as ever.
It is not a perfect movie. It is ridiculous, even for Layton. Enough so that it makes it hard to maintain suspension of disbelief. There are also some moments that draw attention to the series video game roots.
It isn’t a great introduction to the Professor’s adventures, but Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva is a decent enough adventure movie in its own right. It is a treat for longtime fans and should entertain most newcomers, though they may not leave wowed with the franchise. In all, I’d call it a success.