Spoilers ahead! If you haven’t seen the 2017 Death Note movie on Netflix, I advise you watch that first. If spoilers don’t matter to you or you’re not planning to watch the movie anyway, keep reading.
When Netflix announced it had picked up the Death Note movie, I think more than a few fans were a little reluctant towards watching it. After the trailer was released, it was obvious that those feelings were not unfounded. Before I get into my review, I would recommend you watch the trailer first if you haven’t seen it yet. You can view it here. Throughout the review, I will make comparisons to the original series when appropriate.
The cast of the film includes Willem Dafoe as Ryuk as a demon god, Nat Wolff as Light Turner, and Lakeith Stanfield as L. As the film introduced to each character, it was easy to see how problematic each is. Ryuk can barely be seen in every shot of him. Additionally, even with him being barely visible, he looks awkward. He also interferes too much with Light’s journey. Light Turner is now an edgy teen who screams and freaks out over every single little thing. Plus his new last name makes him sound even more like a soft wannabe killer. L, like Light, was calm, cool and collected in the original, but that is not quite represented here either. L gets angered easily and has a huge ego.
It should become obvious to fans of the original series that the creators of the film didn’t even attempt to represent the source material. All this movie shares with the source material is the concept of the Death Note, the feud between L and Light, and the characters’ names. But again, that’s not entirely true as Light had the pleasure of having his last name changed to Turner.
Death Note (2017) (as we’ll have to refer to it from now on) reminds me more of the Final Destination film series than the original Death Note. Except the puppet master behind the incidents is revealed in Death Note (2017), while in Final Destination it’s an unknown entity. The issue with the entity behind all the death in the films being revealed is that you then have to build a character the viewer can find to be a believable mass murderer.
It’s difficult to view the new movie objectively as a fan of the original series. I don’t mean to beat a dead horse here but it just pains me that the incidents in the film are so unrelated to those in the original series. The characters, situations, and locations are all new. For example, the main characters live in Seattle as opposed to Japan. Changes like these could have been fine but it just didn’t feel as cohesive to me.
A serious issue I had concerned the use of the Death Note. Light has the ability to kill people by writing their name in the book along with cause of death, and a face to match the name. So they got the function of the note correct. The real issue is who Light killed.
Most of Light’s murders are focused on people involved with minor school issues, whereas originally, a widespread cleanse of big name criminals and villains were what Light concerned himself with. In the original series, Light contemplates killing people in his prep school class while testing the power of the Death Note. However, he decides not to because he could expose himself by targeting people he encounters everyday. This makes sense to me. It was kind of a shame to see that idea completely tossed to the wind.
Let’s hit on the love interest too. Light meets Mia (taking the place of Misa) at random. She comes up to him in the gymnasium and two minutes later he introduces her to Ryuk. Where is the logic in this? He barely knows this girl and he introduces her to his demon god who helps him kill people. Logically, Light would do everything to keep the existence of the Death Note and Ryuk a secret for as long as he could in the original series. Then they fall in love. Because why not?
The first time L and Light came face to face in the original series was a fantastic moment in the series. When L and Light reveal themselves to one another in the film, it almost feels comedic. For one, L kept going in public as if he shouldn’t be cautious of Kira identifying him. Additionally, they’re both highly irrational and emotional characters so when they meet, it’s not clever like in the original. This takes away from the badass nature that both characters originally brought to the table.
At the end of the movie, Light writes Mia’s name in his death note. The condition of her death is triggered only if she takes the note him, which of course, she does. She then causes the Ferris wheel they’re on to collapse. This leads to the use of her death to erase the fact that Light ever possessed the death note.
Death Note (2017) takes a vaguely similar route to the original. Light has a plan to make it seem like he’s not Kira while he’s in a coma. His followers take and write in his Death Note. However, that act should be useless since his father knew about Light anyway. And guess what? He does nothing about it. Light may be his son, but he’s still a cop. Justice is the central idea of Death Note. Every main character aside from any demon gods, upheld that moral of justice. Here, you can barely identify it as the theme.
As a standalone movie, Death Note (2017) is a decent film. However, it seems that the film is attempting to be the anime/manga. Unfortunately, it came out as a very poor attempt. Hopefully, if the creators do make a sequel, it will be better than their first attempt.Tweet