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Movie Review: “Death Note (2017)”

August 28, 2017

For the renowned manga-turned-anime Death Note to be taken one step further with a live-action movie should be astounding, but the American made film from Netflix does not seem to please moviegoers or anime fans alike.

When just watching the trailer for the movie, it gives hope that a lot of the details will transfer from the original series to the new movie. However, it did not do justice to the original anime, as so much of the storyline was cut out. Director Adam Wingard deserves credit for turning over 12 hours of storyline into a movie shorter than two hours, but more could have been added. For instance, in the anime, Light was smart with his decisions and tested the rules with the death note. In the movie, Light was more impulsive and complained about the rules, rather than finding his way around them. Light was not represented well in this movie due to being dumbed down in order to add conflict.

The only names that stayed the same from the anime to the movie were Light, L and Ryuk. The name of all other characters were Americanized from Mia, to Light’s father James Turner.

One thing to make note of with the movie is how much character they put into L and Ryuk. For L, almost everything was the same as his original character, from his iconic sitting position to his sugar addiction, except he does get emotional at the end of the movie, unlike L from the anime. As for Ryuk, he was not that cynical in the original anime, but the changes can be accepted with the pea-brained human he has to deal with.

In the end credits, the audience can see that the Ryuk’s actor, Williem Dafoe, was wearing a camera while his voice was recorded for the film in order to make the movements of Ryuk’s face seem more real. This was a good decision on the director’s part, but the audience can tell that the CGI Shinigami was exaggerated.

All in all, the use of slow motion video and action clips with no audio furthered the emotion and theatrics in the plot. Most of the movie takes place at night or in low-lighted areas to signify the darkness consuming Light. The music used in the movie helped with the mood and proved to be essential to the scenes included. However, in tense slow motion scenes with emotional music, it was just too cliché to stand out.

With a title like Death Note, there will be some killing, and no “dying in sleep killing” either. Be prepared because even the most avid gore fan will be left wondering if the death scenes had too much overkill.

With all possible ways for the movie to end, the ominous tone of Ryuk at the close hints at another movie to come, and Wingard has confirmed that the movie Death Note was pitched as a “multi-movie series.” This means that the suffering is not over yet.

For the time being, it is advised to not waste two hours on this butchered movie, both in the hole-filled plot to how much blood the production crew did not hesitate to splatter.

This movie ranks at a 4.5, because it may be an adaptation into a different series, but the story line does not parallel the original Death Note anime.

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