Death Note Review
Director: Adam Wingard.
A couple of years, I had reached the end of my Attack on Titan binge watch and as any fan knows, the series comes to an abrupt unfinished ending, leaving us still awaiting the second season. So I turn to my anime guru looking for a desperate replacement fix as I go into withdrawal, and he tells me about Death Note. He described as not being an action anime, but instead an intellectual cat and mouse series, an intriguing battle of wits between two amazing characters. I wasn't overly sold about the idea of Death Note but once I had seen the first episode, I was hooked, eagerly await to see each outcome.
The idea and myth behind Death Note is genius and brilliant, being very original and whilst having so many rules and restrictions it actually ensures endless possibilities, loop holes and unpredictable challenges. In short, a high school kid gains possession of a Death Note, a note book from another realm. If a name of a person is written in the book, that person will shortly die after which spurs multiple, suspicious deaths and earns the attention of the authorities ensuing a battle of wits between the boy, Light and the lead investigator, L.
The origin manga was written by Tsugami Ohba and inked by Takeshi Obata back in 2003 and 108 chapters was converted into a 37 episode, anime series in 2006, which got global recognition, Yup, Death Note has been around for awhile, It isn't the first live action adaption but the third after two Japanese live action versions; one from last year and the first back in 2006 making it the first American adaptation of the manga series.
How can you squeeze an entire 37 episodes into under two hours? It's impossible to fully develop, appreciate and understood the relationships between Light, L and Ryuk. It's no where near as intelligent to it's original source, with massive plot changes and subtractions which may insult many of the fans. There's was so much missed out, but of course, they're trying to rework the story and script into a film with only a runtime of 101minutes.
Dafoe does make a good Ryuk apple-addict shinigami, a death god, though he only provided the voice and the physical Ryuk is played by Jason Liles. Get Out's Stanfield was close with portraying the genius Interpol agent, L, taking much from the original anime character like his awkward postures and mannerisms, but it still isn't him.and while Wolff isn't a complete failure as Light, the trouble is the character. Light Turner is morally different from the original Light, and instead they merge his ruthlessness into another butchered character and love interest, Mia (Qualley).
Wingard does well to create a dark and gloomy atmosphere throughout, which is probably his horror experience seeping into the film, being famed for director V/H/S and 2016's Blair Witch. (currently the announced director of Godzilla Vs. Kong too.) Though this isn't a horror and like the anime, you get use to the grotesque Ryuk hanging around and actually welcome his company. The only really horror element is the first encounter with Ryuk and there's plenty of gore. It's the right move, as it's all about the suspense, wanting to know who each of the characters are going to make their next move. Though the intensity isn't as strong as the Anime, but I wonder if that's because I'm familiar with the story already.
There's an odd choice of soundtrack of 80's classics like Berlin, Chicago and Jennifer Rush. Not being set in the 80's I wonder to what the reasoning was behind the choices. What it meant to make the film more appealing to certain audiences? Like fans of Stranger Things maybe? I love 80's music so it worked for me but sadly, I couldn't notice much of Atticus/Leopold Ross' score.
It's not a great advert for the original material and would assume viewers watching this as their first interaction with Death Note, wouldn't take much away from it thinking it's weak with not much to offer, possibly wondering what all the fuss is about. The magic of the source material, is the intelligence of the engaging chase, loaded with unpredictable twists and plot developments. This merely skims the surface making it quite the disappointment.
Running Time: 6
The Cast: 5
Story: 2 (only by comparison)
Script: 2 (as above)
Job Description: 2
The Extra Bonus Point: -5 for not capitalising on Death Note's key ingredient.