Deathnote Movie Review

Piece Of Shit Or Not?-

Deathnote Movie Review
Should Netflix have put their personal stamp on this Deathnote? You tell me.

"It's like you said, sometimes you gotta choose the lesser of the two evils."

The live action Americanization of popular animes appears to be a fruitless venture. All that it seems to have done is piss everybody off. There's only three that I can think of (Speed Racer, Ghost in the Shell, Deathnote), yet even those have done their damage. I personally don't have a huge problem with taking a foreign property (with permission of course) and setting everything over here in the States, but if you (studios) feel the need to do that, don't change who the characters are and definitely don't change the story so much that it ends up alienating everybody on both sides of the map. I will say this though, turning an anime into a live action film over in Japan has also not been one of the smartest things either. Attack on Titan Parts 1 & 2 were damn near sacrilegious to the source material, and I hear that Fist of the North Star and Dragonball Evolution were so bad, that their directors were banished to North Korea (just kidding, I think). I don't see the train stopping any time soon though, because the beloved classic Akira is rumored to be signing our national anthem in the near future. Yay (no exclamation).

My Impression of Deathnote

Netflix's attempt at doing a worthy version of the popular anime, should make me irritated and resentful. While instead, I'm disappointed and not at all surprised. I've seen all thirty-seven episodes of the intriguing 2006-2007 anime (thank you, Cousin Alex), and never read the manga series that it's based on (not a fan of mangas). From doing a little research, I learned that that series honored and respected its source material by making only small changes that hardly tampered with the mythology. This set in Seattle version of Deathnote, likes to flirt with that mythology and then mutate it into a CW (Arrow, The Vampire Diaries, Gilmore Girls) generation friendly teen drama with a dose of Final Destination. Oh, there are some original staples like the actual Deathnote itself, some same named characters, and a perfect looking Shinigami (death god), however don't let those things fool you. The premise is the same, and the rest of the details are scattershot to a few occasional hits. The simple rules of the Deathnote are changed here to the point where there's a loophole for virtually any scenario that's convenient to the plot.
One of the anime's most riveting elements, was its focus on the character of Light and how his noble intentions of ridding the world of evil people, slowly gets twisted into his own arrogant addiction to power. Here, the once methodical and intelligent Light gets replaced with an insecure teenager, who can't even keep his mouth shut about his newfound powers to the first piece of female attention he ever receives. Nat Wolff (The Fault in Our Stars) is funny for a second as Light, until you realize that his character is a tool used to pander to our young audiences over here. He's the loser who finally has a shot at the hot girl and a weapon against the over-exaggerated bullies of his school. Those scenes of Light's gradual descent as he cleverly dispatches villain after villain in the series, is shown here in a three minute montage so it can skip to what they (the studio) think we would rather see; Teen angst relationship drama. While he stays naive to the forces that conspire against him, his girlfriend Mia (played by Margaret Qualley from The Leftovers) takes on the mantle of a power hungry psycho and pulls all of the strings. In the anime, Mia was known as Misa and she was more of a devout follower of Light's that he manipulates for his own agenda. Here, she stretches believability to its breaking point, especially how clueless Light seems to be about her for the entire film. His greatest enemy "L", is intensely channeled by Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out) which works really well, until he turns into a spoiled brat that can no longer be taken seriously. The elegant cat & mouse game between him and Light, is thrown aside for childish finger pointing that becomes very annoying to witness. The only one here who makes Deathnote worth watching, is Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man) as Ryuk the apple-chomping Shinigami. During Dafoe's five or so appearances, his sadistic delivery of dialogue and facial expressions makes you forget about the film's errors for an enjoyable yet brief moment. Now can somebody explain to me why Light's Mother and little Sister were written out and only his Father was kept in as a single parent? I liked Shea Whigham (Kong: Skull Island) as his Dad, but why omit half of the family?

Deathnote Movie Review
One apple is never enough

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Deathnote

The Good- Ryuk has a clicky pen ready to go, a casual stroll off of a tall building, Light finally shows some intellect with his final plan, and the end credits blooper reel gives the illusion that we just saw a better movie.

The Bad- Shouldn't Light just have ordered Watari (Paul Nakauchi, Overwatch) to kill L instead of sending him on a journey to only find his name? I guess that little detail was also padded into the extra rules. And what modern day prom would have more 80's music than current?

The Ugly- All that director Adam Wingard had to do this time, was to follow the same formula that he did with his Blair Witch sequel from 2016, which was to completely copy the original film. Instead, he's ruined both franchises because he just doesn't get it. He should have taken more risky liberties with Blair Witch, and followed the Deathnote original as closely as possible.

Final Thoughts

With Dafoe's fun performance, Atticus (The Social Network) and Leopold (The Book of Eli) Ross's mood setting score, cool camera work, and decent production value, you'd think that Deathnote would be a winner. It is however not. Surprisingly, the whole thing goes down smoother than most give it credit for, and I never found the movie to be boring at all. It's a shame that Wingard and company were too blind to see that adding a little slice of Americana to the Deathnote itself, was not any better than leaving well enough alone and letting nature take its course. Apple pie, anyone?
Rating- 4 out of 10

Deathnote Movie Review2

Death Note (2017)

TV-MA | 1h 41min | Adventure, Crime, Drama | 25 August 2017 (USA)A high school student named, Light Turner, discovers a mysterious notebook that has the power to kill anyone whose name is written within its pages and launches a secret crusade to rid the world of criminals.
Writers: Charley Parlapanides (screenplay), Vlas Parlapanides (screenplay) | 3 more credits Stars: Nat Wolff, Lakeith Stanfield, Margaret Qualley 
Director: Adam Wingard