Truthfully, I was not the least bit excited for this live action Hollywood adaptation of Death Note. I do not think my reservations were unwarranted seeing as most, if not all attempts by Hollywood, to adapt anime into Hollywood productions have not been great. Furthermore, the 2006 Death Note anime was simply amazing, flawless even. Yet, I wanted to give this film a chance and not jump on the hate bandwagon because it was what everybody else was doing. So that is exactly what I did, here is my review:
Light Turner played by Nat Wolff is a smart, social outcast who comes across a note book called the Death Note that grants him the ability to kill anyone whose name he writes in it. With the help of his girlfriend Mia (Margaret Qualley), he begins killing criminals and people he does not deem worthy. However, his murders do not go unnoticed. The renowned yet secretive detective L is on the case, vowing to catch Light, whose actions have earned him a devoted following under the pseudonym Kira.
Firstly, the film was well acted by all those involved, my favourites being Shea Whigham as James Turner and Lakeith Stanfield as L. I really liked James Turner as you could see that he was an honourable man who just wanted to do what’s right, no matter the consequences. In my opinion, James Tuner is supposed to be the most relatable or ‘human’ character on the screen and Shea Whigham played him well in that regard. Furthermore, Lakeith Stanfield was an excellent L. In fact, he was the only character who reminded me somewhat of the original character from the anime/manga. Morevoer, Stanfield’s portrayal of L was made all the more memorable towards of the end of the film when he is shown to not simply be this clever, emotionless robot but a clever person who is ultimately human too.
In addition, I really liked the homecoming scene and those that followed it. From that point onwards, the film was actually pretty solid and interesting. Plot twists, if believable, always makes for good watching and this definitely applies to Death Note.
I honestly believe that it is time for the angsty teen stereotype to die. I understand that high school is hard, making friends is difficult and everybody has problems but I am honestly sick and tired of these types of characters. They no longer rally the audience to their side. In fact, they have become predictable, whiny, annoying and often, the worst part of their own films. Light Turner fell into this stereotype, which in turn made it difficult for me like or engage with the character.
Furthermore, I genuinely do not understand why the romance between Light and Mia was made a central part of the story. I do not think that people watched Death Note for the teen romance. I sure as hell didn’t! Instead of following their romance, the film should have concentrated more on the police case to catch Kira. If the film did that, it would have been way more interesting and original, especially since there are so many teen romance films out there right now. Quite frankly, Death Note should not have been one of them.
Overall Comments and Rating
If I judge the film as a film in its own right, I have to admit that it was not as awful as the reviews suggested. There are some excellent performances and entertaining scenes scattered throughout the film. With that in mind, the film is definitely watchable. That being said, it is nearly impossible for those who have seen the anime, like myself, to completely separate the two and view them as separate entities. The film changed most of the details that made Death Note great. Now this would not have been a problem if the film was brilliant but it wasn’t. And that is probably why there is such disappointment surrounding the film from those who fans who came from the anime and manga.
Rating wise, I will give the film a 3/5, which is arguably generous.
What did you think of Death Note? Tell me in the comments
Featured Image taken from Wikipedia