The court system, burdened by the massive amount of crimes being committed, introduces a new trial system: the bench trial system. Both prosecution and defense face each other in open court, and have three days to make their case before the judge renders a verdict.
Shortly after winning his first case, proving his best friend Larry Butz innocent of murder, rookie defense attorney Phoenix Wright is thrust into the limelight after the murder of his mentor, Mia Fey. The accused murderer is Mia's younger sister, Maya Fey, who comes from a family line of spirit mediums. Wright faces off with childhood friend and rival prosecutor Miles Edgeworth on the case. After some cross examination of a witness and interpretation of evidence at the crime scene, photojournalist Redd White confesses to the crime, and Maya is subsequently found not guilty.
Wright explains to Maya that he became a lawyer because Edgeworth and Butz defended him when he was accused of stealing money as a child, and offers to defend Edgeworth when he is accused of the murder of attorney Robert Hammond at Gourd Lake, with Edgeworth's mentor Manfred von Karma acting as prosecutor. The case takes an unexpected turn as Wright unravels a related 15-year-old mystery concerning the DL-6 case, which focuses on Miles' father Gregory Edgeworth. Gregory was found murdered in the court's basement evidence locker room; Yanni Yogi, a court bailiff, is initially accused of murdering Gregory after discovering Gregory allegedly tampering with a gun used as evidence in a case. He is coerced into pleading not guilty by reason of insanity by Hammond in killing Gregory with the gun. The DL-6 case ultimately destroys Yogi's life, where he resorts to living as a hermit. A package arrives urging Yogi to take revenge, namely setting up the murder of Hammond by Miles. Yogi confesses to the ruse in open court, but Miles admits he believes that he murdered his father, not Yogi.
The admission by Edgeworth focuses new attention on the DL-6 case. Wright manages to prove in court that Edgeworth did not kill his father, and he uncovers evidence that von Karma had committed perjury and killed Gregory. However, key evidence in the form of the gun that Gregory thought was tampered with and killed with is missing to prove this theory. Mia Fey's notes on the DL-6 case and a timely discovery of the bullet that killed Gregory hidden in a clock statue of The Thinker, which was used to kill Mia after she took the bullet evidence, help proves von Karma's crime and unravels the mystery. Von Karma has a breakdown in court and is subsequently arrested for the crime of murdering Gregory, and for hiring Redd White to retrieve the bullet from The Thinker, and Miles is acquitted of all crimes. Wright vows to help defend Yogi of his crimes and reconciles with Edgeworth, while Butz admits to stealing the money when they were children and Maya returns home for further training.
During the credits, scenes based off cases from the game Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All are shown.Hiroki Narimiya as Phoenix Wright / Ryūichi Naruhodō
Mirei Kiritani as Maya Fey / Mayoi Ayasato
Takumi Saito as Miles Edgeworth / Reiji Mitsurugi
Rei Dan as Mia Fey / Chihiro Ayasato
Minami Hamabe as young Mia Fey / Chihiro Ayasato
Shunsuke Daito as Dick Gumshoe / Keisuke Itonokogiri
Akiyoshi Nakao as Larry Butz / Masashi Yahari
Ryo Ishibashi as Manfred von Karma / Gō Karuma
Akira Emoto as The Judge
Mitsuki Tanimura as Lotta Hart / Natsumi Ōsawagi
Takehiro Hira as Gregory Edgeworth / Shin Mitsurugi
Eisuke Sasai as Robert Hammond / Yukio Namakura
Makoto Ayukawa as Redd White / Masaru Konaka
Kimiko Yo as Misty Fey / Maiko Ayasato
Fumiyo Kohinata as Yanni Yogi / Kōtarō Haine
The music for Ace Attorney was composed by Kōji Endō, known for scoring other films by Takashi Miike. For the soundtrack, Endō chose to use various themes by Masakazu Sugimori from the original video game and re-arranged them for an ensemble consisting of a string orchestra, an oboe, a clarinet, two French horns, a trumpet, and a choir. Additional background music was also newly composed. The soundtrack was later released on CD to tie in with the movie. The film's theme song, "2012Spark", was composed and performed by the Japanese male rock group Porno Graffitti.
The movie made its world premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam on 1 February 2012 with a release in Japanese cinemas on 11 February 2012. The film made its US premiere at the Hawaii International Film Festival in April 2012. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 22 August 2012 in Japan, and on 17 April 2013 in Australia. In Germany, the film was released by Koch Media on DVD and Blu-ray on 14 June 2013. The film was available on Netflix for a time, but has since been removed. It is currently available on Quickflix as a "premium" film that customers can rent for 48 hours.
The movie earned over US$1,547,000 in its opening weekend, grossing over US$6,145,000 during its theatrical run.
Reviews have been mixed to positive. Richard Eisenbeis of Kotaku praised the movie, calling it "the best video game movie ever." Jay Weissberg of Variety referred to the film as a "dull production" that was "criminally long and generally lacking in [Miike's] playful visual hyperbole." Wilma Jandoc of the Honolulu Star Advertiser lamented that the film could not easily translate the sillier aspects of the game into the movie, but contended that a viewer not privy to the video game series could be entertained if they focused on the more mystery/crime side of the movie and ignored the sillier parts.