SYNOPSIS: "What if you had the power to decide who lives and who dies? We suggest you obey the rules. Based on the famous Japanese manga written by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, Death Note follows a high school student who comes across a supernatural notebook, realizing it holds within it a great power; if the owner inscribes someone's name into it while picturing their face, he or she will die. Intoxicated with his new godlike abilities, the young man begins to kill those he deems unworthy of life."
Launched August 24th on Netflix is the first "Western" adaptation of DEATH NOTE. Scroll thru to read my not-so-good impressions of the 100-minuter "original film" fueled with SPOILERS ... OR if you like less words and more pics, head on to my #iliketeevee post ... Or you could just look away and CLICK HERE to peruse previous coverage on the POPCORNX blog, if you so please. The following image sums up what I feel about this film;
If you have not watched any of the original source manga (which I’ve not), or Japanese live action feature film adaptions (which I have … alas, I could not get past the first episode of the J-TV series myself :p), I can honestly say, watching the Netflix original tele-movie version would serve you better for “curiosity’s sake” - instead of looking to find fresh new meaning or pleasant surprises, by which you might be disappointed, perhaps even lament the filmmakers not pushing beyond more than what has been laid before viewers in previous incarnations.
Sure, they’ve got the “love for apples” down phat (twice we see apple cores being left behind), and perhaps it was prudent not to fill the film with expositions about the “WHY” and “WHATS” of the book and shinigami … and while it might not be wholly fair to exclaim “lost in translation”, the filmmakers attempt to instead evoke+introduce “emotional depth” into the lore/story, with themes of “love” with; boy-resents-dad-loves-his-boy, underdog-boy-loves-girl, girls kisses back, boy gets f88ked over, you know? Teen angst stuff oozing offa grownasslooking adults, but it’s okay, coz “Mia” is hawt in a “Kristen Stewart” sorta way?
So I am to understand and accept that a boy who thinks with his dick is smart enough to orchestrate an elaborate scheme under immense pressure, even though he is/was smart enough to do homework for others?
Mia is hot. Even tho her self-serving reality was first served up in the beginning of the film, and Light chooses to let his dick lead the way instead.
And I am to understand a highly trained private detective - trained since a child - to crumble emotionally when his lullaby singer bites the dust?
But you KNOW it is a “western” film (dare I exclaim “Hollywood”?) when there is an extended CHASE SCENE - which truthfully had some interesting visuals, which leads me to my next lament…
What was exceedingly frustrating for me, was the inconsistency in visuals and styles. There were very select few moments when design and film styles promised a visual treat - and I’d gladly take “eye candy” over “story” in this adaptation (but that’s just me) - but alas there were mostly moments of pedestrian viewing experience, splendidly colored (as it were), as if the film was directed by two different folks.
Directed by Adam Wingard, who will next helm 2020’s “Godzilla vs. Kong”.
The sequences when Watari returns to the orphanage where L was trained, featured some surprising visuals and set designs, and even the slow-mo of the lock being broken, held so much visual promise indeed … alas this was the near the end of the film…
The lore of “Death Note” transcends geographical boundaries - something which is explained/shown in the last Japanese film “Death Note: Light Up the New World”, but in this incarnation, we are to just accept that “Death Note” is in English, and guarded by Death God “Ryuk”, who also appeared conveniently in a Japanese reference book Light happen to be reading in a cafe on a rainy day.
Too many things teased. Too many thing left to coincidence. DEATH NOTE could have easily been more plausible as a two-parter perhaps, but in the end it became a 100 minuter “cliff-notes” trailer to a series we’ll never get to enjoy.
Funny. All we get to read (or are teased with), are the “Rules”, but nothing was ever mentioned about “consequence”? That perhaps is the “genius” of a notion such as “Death Note” exists and thrives, IMHO.
The book itself is nothing. The manipulating shinigami is a gimmick. The “real story” are of humans and their stupidity and inability to own up. The response to ending of this film essentially sums up the entire film: “HUH?”