Death Note
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Death Note (2017)

Death Note
4.4/10 by 1141 users
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A young man comes to possess a supernatural notebook, the Death Note, that grants him the power to kill any person simply by writing down their name on the pages. He then decides to use the notebook to kill criminals and change the world, but an enigmatic detective attempts to track him down and end his reign of terror.

Release Date:August 25, 2017
Runtime:
MPAA Rating:18
Genres:Mystery, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
Production Company:Vertigo Entertainment, Lin Pictures, Netflix
Production Countries:United States of America
Director:Adam Wingard, Amandine Dufraise, Ana Oparnica Sebal
Writers:, , , ,
Casts:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Plot Keywords:notebook, based on manga, death, live action, anime, based on anime
  • A clumsy and thoughtless adaptation with a few highlights
    August 25, 2017

    I'm often on the defending party for films. I notice that many reviewers seem to complain much about any movie is released. That was the case with Alien: covenant, for example. That movie was far superior to this one.

    Prior to the film, I watched in about three days the entire Death Note series. Because I really just got into it and don't plan on watching the anime again soon, I don't consider myself a fan (never watched animes before, by the way), but I reckon it was a very clever series. At times it had its cheesiness, but still worked pretty well.

    When the source material is well written, I don't think that departing from it is the right choice. The Martian proved that, for instance. Changching the plot should be always for the benefit of it, and not to overly simplify the story and to take out some of it core aspects.

    Death Note's film adaptation chose this second route. I have the feeling that they didn't understand at all what was the series about. The anime mostly focused on L and Light's intellectual fight, battles of tricks and making one and another be unsure about what his intentions are. Ryuk (who I thought would be a practical effect and not CGI, as instead it sadly proved to be) had more importance. Truth is, this movie had also a very low runtime in order to cover up the plot well, it might have needed an extra 40 minutes (so a 2h 30m film), but it would have needed an entirely different plot.

    Instead, when the movie finished, it turned out to be just a rushed sequence of events, most of which seemed incoherent if seen next to the anime, which was a very clever story. Ultimately, the film settles for a needless and overly bloody gore feast. The speed of this film is so fast paced that, by when I arrived to the 1 hour mark, I could not believe that we had forty minutes left. And I came to realise that nothing that happened felt relevant to the whole storyline. Death note should have been adapted in a slightly slower paced film, and had minimal gore (most of people died by heart attack). That wouldn't mean that it had to be necessarily a boring film, or a non-R rated one. The themes of moral ambiguity and killing powers make it anyways a very dark story to tell.

    The only positive note I could find in all of this is that sometimes both L and Light's actor delivered scenes which made me suggest that they where up to the roles, if the original anime was to be followed. L sometimes used the anime character's same line delivery, Light seemed capable of behaving as a bloodthirsty, dark and evil character. Sadly, the movie didn't allow the actors to perform their characters rightfully. Williem Dafoe's voice sounded exactly like the original Ryuk's. That said, Ryuk appeared for about 4 minutes, so there wasn't much there.

    Ultimately, this is the perfect example on how an adaptation of a good source material can simply suck. I recall only Eragon being such an unfaithful, unrightful and almost offensive adaptation to a very clever and deep story.