Death Note (No spoilers)

Posted: August 28, 2017 in Comics, Movies


I watched Death Note (the original anime) a few years ago and often felt excited, scared, frustrated and by the end satisfied. To call it complex would not be doing it justice. It is without doubt one of the best examples of the genre. Cut to right now and we have an American adaptaion of the Japanese source matrial via Netflix and director Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest, Blair Witch). For the most part you are left with a good if not great movie. Does that sound less than priasing? Well it’s not supposed to be. In fact it’s meant to be the opposite because Death Note, for all it’s depth and complex arguments, is not an easy anime/manga to adapt into a one hour and forty mintue movie and the fact Wingard was able to deliver a solid introduction to this world at all is a proud achievement.

Death Note asks what would YOU do if a god of death’s note book fell into your hands? All it would take would be for you to write a persons name in said book and picture their face for said person to die in whichever way you see fit? That’s the gist of the story. Our protagonist is high school student Light (Nat Wolff) who finds himself in said situation. He along with fellow student Mia (Margaret Qualley) decide to use the notebook to eradicate any who they deem evil from the world. As the bodycount rises the two teens draw the attention of the worlds greatest detective L (an excellent Lakeith Stanfield) who makes it his sole mission to bring down Light. Faced with bringing about a new world order via the power of the notebook while the authorities close in forces Light and Mia to make some questionable decision for (in their opinion) the greater good.

The issue with the anime and sadly with the film is that Light and Mia are flat out unlikable. You don’t root for either of them, Mia espechially comes across as quite ready to go all out and kill without much investigation as to why in this American adaptation. Light on the other hand at least has a reason but whereas in the anime he was given room to show depth and grow (for better or worse) in the movie he comes across as impulsive and more unlikeable. Not the actors fault, just how the characters are written. Thankfully L is awesome and Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out) is great in the role. The always reliable Willem Dafoe and Shea Whigham put in very good turns as death god Ryuk and Light’s father respectively.

Taken as simply a horror movie Death Note is a good picture with some interesting ideas, points of coversation (moral talking points for sure ) and some truly grissly demises. Credit also to Wingard for putting on film one of the best foot chases I’ve seen on film in quite some time, packed in with an overall great musical score that gives the film it’s own indentity and works real well. The film works on it’s own sure but if you find yourself really interested in the world and wanting more then as is usually the case with these things you can’t beat the original. My advice would be to check out the anime and original manga and then catch Netflix’s Death Note, just to see how they went about adapting something massive and compex because you may just surprise yourself and end up thinking the filmmakers did good.

Death Note is available now on Netflix (UK)


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