Death Note Is a popular Manga Series started in 2003 that was successfully adapted to an anime series in 2006. The Netflix original Death Note Film released in 2017 was the first American made live action adaptation of the series. (There had previously been two Japanese films made.) Prior to watching the film I had incredibly high hopes for the film as a fan of the anime series.
I was very disappointed with the film. There were so many core changes to the characters that I couldn’t get past. First I’ll start with the positives, Willem Dafoe was the perfect voice of Ryuk. Through the film I felt that Ryuk’s voice was perfect, though the character did have some faults. I really enjoyed Lakeith Stanfield’s portrayal of L. He really embodied the character and was a flawless transition to live action. He perfectly mastered the attitude of L and embodied the character better than I expected anyone to be able to in person. Lite and Mia (Not Misa, Mia) were far different as characters having entirely different motivations to their anime counterparts. Lite occasionally over acted to the point of making dramatic scenes comical.
This paragraph will have mild plot spoilers for the animated series as well as the 2017 film. The motivation of all the main characters as well as the relationship dynamics were changed so drastically that they were hardly recognisable as the same characters. Lite and his father start the film on bad terms, and rather than being a model student Lite illegally does people’s homework for them for money. This makes it less drastic when Lite decides to kill people as he was already doing things outside the realm of what is right. The biggest complaint I have however, is how drastically they changed the character of Ryuk. Rather than having 5 rules in the death note it has at least 100. Not only is the use of the death note completely changed but Ryuk pushes Lite to use it. What made the original series so appealing to me was the moral conflict that would take place inside the viewer as he witnessed what Lite became, but with Ryuk talking Lite into it seems more like Lite was just kind of thrust into the position of Kira rather than showing that it was entirely his idea to “cleanse the world of all evil.” This fundamental change ruined the movie for me and made it difficult to watch.
If you have yet to watch the original series I’m sure you would enjoy the film as its own entity. All the problems I have with the film are the fundamental plot points it changed. I watched this with a second pair of eyes that had never seen the Anime and he enjoyed it. If you have seen the anime I suggest you not watch this film unless you’re planning to make fun of it with a group of friends. If it was an original idea it would have been great, there were just far too many things that were made opposing the original intent for me to enjoy it. I give 2017’s Death Note 1.5 / 5 stars.
Director: Adam Wingard
Writers: Charley Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides, & more..
Stars: Nat Wolff, Lakeith Stanfield, Margaret Qualley, & more..