Welcome to my new segment called “Before and After,” where I talk about my pre-impressions of a movie before I watch it, and then discuss my thoughts on what I saw. Sure, this may sound like what Tony Goldmark does with “One Movie Later,” but I also want to do the same thing anyway and steal his shtick. And by the way, go check Tony Goldmark’s Youtube channel if you haven’t already. I highly recommend it.
So, we have finally reached to the fourth attempt at a Death Note adaptation. And you know what? I understand why there’s another. Death Note was, is, and forever will be one of the biggest and greatest anime ever made that broke new grounds that came out before Attack on Titan and after Dragon Ball Z. The odd thing about it, Death Note was the very first manga to ever break new grounds in, and it wasn’t inspired by anything. At all. Tsugumi Ohba said in an interview that all of this came from his own mind as a concept, and later on developed everything else, from the rules of the Death Note to the story. He kept on piling so much that he eventually got started writing Death Note. Think about it: Dragon Ball was inspired by Toriyama from watching Kung Fu movies, Samurai Champloo was inspired by old Samurai films, and Death Note was from Ohba’s head. You got to have some crazy mind to think this stuff up.
Death Note is an excellent manga series, from beginning to end, and I do recommend it to everyone who has never seen the show either. I’m even showing it to my friends right now as I’m writing this article. One of which didn’t grow watching anime, and I got him to watch Fullmetal Alchemist, Attack on Titan, and now Death Note. He now thinks that Death Note is the best anime he has seen so far.
I do call this show to be very revolutionary for anime, for a few reasons. Before Death Note came out, most anime were dominated by both action and dumb girly dramas in the mid 2000s, from what I can remember at the time when I was in high school. But when Death Note was first introduced to me, my mind and concept of anime was redefined when I saw how great of a story you can make, from the characters, the atmosphere, the tone, and all the way down to how you can make something so intense without the use of fighting or beating people up. The plot itself was incredibly original, and even today I have yet so see an anime that can top it’s creativity. Not to say that this is my favorite anime of all time, because it isn’t. But it is in my top 5!
And I did see the three movies. What were my thoughts? How about “what was my reaction?”
That image alone sums up what I thought about those movies. I already talked about the live drama from 2015 on my first thoughts, and my mind still hasn’t changed. Just go look up my article on that for more information. As for the Netflix movie, I saw the first trailer, and was kind of skeptical. But after watching the second trailer, I was starting to feel pretty nervous about how it was going to turn out. As the reviews started to come in, my expectations are not getting better so far. I haven’t read any of them yet, because I’m trying to go into this movie with an open mind, and I try to do that with every movie that I go out to see. I have no idea what I will think about it, but there’s only one way to find out.
I just finished watching Death Note by the time of writing this article. Now, there are two ways how you can watch this movie. The first way is by going into this movie, without ever seeing or read Death Note. However, if you do that, you will find yourself both baffled and bewildered by how stupid and outrageously unsubtle this movie is. The other way is by going into this movie as a fan, and try to not shut this movie off out of pure rage and disrespect that this movie puts on the original source material and the fandom. And no, I never said there’s a good way to watch this movie. Netflix’s Death Note I believe is worse than the other live adaptations in the past. It makes the three other movies look more competent, and it makes the tone of the live drama
, as well as the atmosphere, look more accurate in comparison, and to top it off, it makes those previous live adaptations look both smarter and good. Yeah, that’s where we’re at with this abomination.
The very first problem that I spotted in this movie is Light. I have no idea who the actor is, nor have I ever heard of him before, and I can see why. The very first thing you hear from him is his whining, as well as his foul mouth that shows us what you get if you take the Tarantino style of writing and remove all of it’s charm. This movie doesn’t make Light look like a genius either. Sure, he does other people’s homework for money, but this movie couldn’t do better than that? He’s pretty ignorant for the most part. He hates his dad (Shea Whigham), or at least I think he does, because about 90% of the dialog that he shares with him is just whining, complaining, and arguing with him. As for his dad, James Turner, he’s pretty forgettable, and the movie can do without him.
Ryuk is, not only forgettable, but his motives are kind of hard to read. I know that he finds how interesting humans can get and finds himself entertained by what they do, but you don’t get to know why. As a matter in fact, you don’t get to know anything about Ryuk. You don’t know why he has an obsession for apples, you don’t know why he finds humans to be interesting, or where he came from. Not only that, but you can barely see his face. It’s always revealed in the dark, and I don’t get it. The special effects, when not seeing his face (usually showing his back on the camera) looks good. As a matter in fact, it looks better than the previous live action Ryuks that I have seen before. It’s just a shame that its ruined for giving us no reason to show his face completely.
I am not kidding on how I described his presence. These images show us just how we are able to see him in this film.
Now before we get to talk about L, I think I should just get rid of the casting of this movie, because, even though the racial choices that this movie made isn’t as big of a topic as Ghost in the Shell was, it’s still making some headlines with a few websites. I am going to say right here and now that there was nothing wrong with Death Note taking place in America with American actors. I complained about the racial casting in Ghost in the Shell because, one, the movie wants us to think that Japan is a multiracial county, even though it’s population 98.5% Japanese, and two, Motoko’s Japanese brain was put inside of a white woman’s body. In other words, the movie’s script white washed the character, which makes it worse. In this version of Death Note, I find the casting to be fine, because they managed to write a story in an American setting where anyone can be whoever they want, with the exception of Watari, even though his name can be whatever they choose. I’ll get to him later on. Now that I discussed my point of view on that issue, I can finally talk about L.
L’s acting started off fine for me, making me think that probably, just probably that this movie would get him right. I was right. For the first quarter of the movie. Whenever he starts to have serious problems, like losing his reach for Watari, he starts freak out. Yes, this is an adaptation, where there are going to be changes, but make good changes, as well as keeping the story consistent with the original source material, which this movie clearly doesn’t understand. L turns out to be a badly written character, whose motives are confusing and horrible that you can’t really see him as either L or as great of a detective that this movie wants you to believe. He already had tons of people working for him, either defending him, or guarding him. Hmmmmm……. working with Watari, avoiding yourself from anyone else by isolating yourself so you can be protected from anyone confiscate any evidence and not getting yourself killed, or just make a public announcement out in the blue and having a team with you that can get yourself killed?
Watari is played by Paul Nakauchi, who is also known for voicing Hanzo in Overwatch, is probably the closest to being a good character in this movie, but I would be lying if the script is what ruined him too. He does have some moments where he shows his compassion for L and how he communicates with others, but the things he does later on in the movie kills it for me. Which this does make me discuss the rules of Death Note.
For those of you who memorized, some, more than half, or all of the rules in the Death Note, don’t worry. This movie just uses some of the rules, but makes up their own, like the only way how you can cancel out someone’s death is by burning the page it was written on within 48 hours. Oh, you thought that you can just write down someone’s name and wait for 40 seconds? Of course not, stupid! That rule is disposed of and you do need to write the cause of death and wait for it to happen. But in some parts of the movie, it does show that you can just write their names without writing the cause of death. Other people can touch the Death Note, but only the owner can see, hear, talk, and touch the death god, and no one else. Not only that, but Ryuk was the one who wrote the rules, meaning that he can write down whatever he wants, so anything goes. But I do like the look of the Death Note. I thought they did a good job on the design.
Mia, whose suppose to be this movie’s version of Misa, is not very good. She may not be as bland as Sofia Coppola in The Godfather Part III, but she is as stupid as Bella Swan in Twilight, and can be pretty insufferable too. Yeah, I don’t have a lot to say about her. She sucks.
The rest of this movie is horrible. The anime sure might have when over the top for most of the show, but that’s only because you’re watching an anime about a man who’s trying to become the god of the new world. Only Tetsuro Araki is able to do that right with an anime like Death Note and Attack on Titan. His style is almost cinematic. This movie’s tone isn’t that bad, as well as the direction of it, but the music sounds like something that you would hear from a show, video, or movie that is based in the 80s. Come on, this is a movie where a guy wants to become a god, you got to make it look and feel like it. Subtlety has no room in this movie either. Half of this movie has people overreacting, and because Light writes down people’s causes of death, it only gives the movie’s excuse of showing off the gore effects, which do look good, but not even that works for the reasons behind what Light wants. Most of these criminals are killed along with people who have nothing to do with the people Light kills. There was one where he kills a criminal by derailing a train with people, right next to another train! In the anime, Light was smart enough to kill only the people he wanted dead without putting the innocent in harm’s way. This Light’s interpretation of justice just doesn’t seem to matter how he does it, as long as he does it. And don’t get me started with the ending. It’s as bad as the rest of the movie. L finds a page in Light’s bedroom, only showing that he was ready to write down his name, but hesitates, and this movie thinks it’s cleaver enough to make us wonder if he does it. This movie isn’t even cleaver enough to make us care!
No, I obviously don’t recommend this movie. It’s void of joy, has no charm, it has no ambition, and it is definitely nowhere close to being as smart and competent as the original source material. The acting is terrible, the script is terrible, and the director obviously had no idea as to what made Death Note great at all. As for the negativity that this movie has already gotten from the critics, they’re not wrong. As a fan, you will only be angry, and as a non-fan, you will not like this movie at all.
I hope that this segment worked like a charm, and I’m off to go watch The Tick!