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Netflix’s Live-Action ‘Death Note’ Movie: Review

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Full disclosure, before I begin: you need to see the 2017 film adaptation of Death Note. Not because it’s a cinematic masterpiece, not because it does anything intelligent with its source material, not even because it has Jesus Christ as the Shinigami (Death God), but because it’s an excellent example of how sometimes, in an adaptation, making changes to the source material for the sake of doing something different isn’t always a good idea. Also, you need to see the 2017 film adaptation of Death Note because it’s a museum-worthy trainwreck, in every sense of the word except literal. Although this film’s Light Yagami probably crashed more than a few trains, the lil’ edgy fuck.

4/10, at best. An edgy, scowling, seemingly-intelligent Seattleite (SeattleLight?) student by the name of Light Turner, who has to deal with truly harrowing problems like doing other people’s homework for money and occasionally getting glared at by bullies, happens across a notebook – with the inscription “Death Note” plastered on the front – that fell from the sky into his school’s courtyard. The moment Light picks this notebook up, he’s immediately accosted by some cackling juggalo known as Ryuk, a Shinigami (Death God) and the apparent owner of that notebook. He tells Light how it works: write someone’s name down in the notebook, and they will die. After Light tests it out on some random white trash bully with immediate, successful, gory results, he immediately falls back into delusions of grandeur and teams up with some emo backseater bitch named Mia Sutton to begin murdering criminals (as well as some other chucklefucks they don’t like, including an entire nightclub and… collapsing a cathedral???) under the guise of “Kira”, which naturally attracts the attention of the police, including a notorious, secretive detective named L. Secretive in that he will cover (half of) his face with a mask and not reveal his full name, but apparently not secretive enough to pass up the opportunity to show himself on live television. He’s a genius, trust us. Light now basically has to juggle killing… criminals I guess, the unorthodox L’s constant prying, and staying under the radar from his milquetoast police officer dad named Soichi—er, I mean, James Turner. A lot of shit happens from thence.

Film has decent direction and cinematography at best, bad sound mixing, and a ghastly soundtrack featuring 80’s staples like Air Supply and Chicago, because American-based 80’s synthpop ballads are absolutely befitting of an Asian-produced crime thriller drama involving secretive mass murderers, garish-looking gods of death, and edgy, teenaged Hot Topic mugwumps without a speck of neon to be found in their clothing (the score fares better though; it’s not half-bad at all). Predominantly unlikable cast, either perversions or distillations of previously well-developed and well-used characters. Film veers wildly from mildly interesting to hilariously awful to chaotic at a breakneck pace, and somehow manages to throw in an irrelevant high school prom scene somewhere in the mix. Interesting, ambiguous ending does make the film go out on a better note than it began, but the inconsistent, largely-unimpressive first half leaves a lot to be desired. No Matsuda. 4/10.

 

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