There are two types of people in this world: people who fuck with anime, and people who judge the fuck out of people who fuck with anime. The Netflix live action adaption of Death Note may have been produced as a way to remedy this disconnect — but unfortunately, it fails to captivate both fans of the original and critics alike.
Decent film adaptations of well-known animes and mangas are hard to come by these days. Dragonball Evolution, The Last Airbender and Attack on Titan are just a few examples of Hollywood’s tendency to produce shoddy remakes that do not capture the spirit of its source material.
Death Note unfortunately falls right into that trap.
The premise of the film follows the manga: a young man named Light Turner receives a magical notebook that allows its owner to kill anyone whose name and face they know. He then uses the book to weed the world of whomever he deems evil. As a fan of the original series, I obviously expected major changes would be made to condense the anime into a 100-minute film, but those changes seemed to exclusively detract from the plot rather than solely reformat it. The film now takes place in America and the characters are not only whitewashed, but vapid.
Well-written characters from the original manga were turned into dull fill-ins. The acting in several fight scenes, murder scenes and most notably, Ryuk and Light’s first meeting was sometimes so over-the-top it had me laughing harder than a poorly English-dubbed anime.
In both the anime and manga Death Note, the characters have dimension. They are dark and hardened, but still keep much of their quirks intact. With remarkably wooden acting, the film fails to emulate the allure that made Death Note such a hit. This, coupled with the uninspired, poorly adapted plot, makes the film hard to finish.
The original Light Yagami won audiences over for his cunning personality. He’s a calculating, aloof and totally sociopathic teen hiding behind the facade of a student-athlete. He makes his arrogance seem like a necessity rather than hubris.
But Netflix’s Light Turner, played by Nat Wolff, is transformed into a brooding, unlikable teen with a limp motivation to better the world. The film’s first scenes solidify a version of Light that is not only insecure, but annoying. His sociopathic qualities were purposely taken away and crafted into a new love interest, Mia Sutton. While this was a bold move by filmmakers, it makes for a poor trade-off — the anime’s typically exciting lead is now a charisma-less shell of a character.
The film’s victims are all killed in a manner that resembled a Final Destination film rather than the series. With such unnecessary gore, these scenes were laughable and made Death Note feel more like a loose parody than an imaginative remake.
1 / 4 Shells