Alas, like with our early mindset towards video game movies, surely there’s going to be a good anime adaptation soon, right? Wrong. For Death Note has hit Netflix screens all around the globe, and the search for a decent anime adaptation continues. At least it seems we might be heading in the right direction. This is, after all, a step up from what’s already come, and if Netflix profits boost, they’ve recently suggested interest in bringing a sequel to life. Between the source material’s built in fan base and Netflix’s ability to control the minds of every person alive and dead, this seems likely. Hopefully they get it right next time.
It’s a game of questionable morals as Light descends from sympathetic victim to all-powerful god. The Americanised remake creates a new interpretation of these characters and their arcs, allowing for plenty of surprises for both old fans and new as we follow these heroes transcend through a morally grey time in their life and come to terms with the animalistic instincts humans have when given unearthly powers. No Captain America’s here. Their true personalities shine, and it’s one of the most fascinating ideologies present in Death Note. It asks the question of what to do when we’re able to do something, and how to distinguish which evil is the lesser of two evils. Granted, bits and pieces of it have been done before, but it's a subject matter I'm always curious to see play out.
However, you don’t get given enough time with L to care for his side of the story, either. The entirety of Death Note finds these characters at war with one another, both aware of what the other person is doing and finding a way to outdo the other, but the overarching story is skimmed over and summarised with little to no impact. This is a 100-minute adaptation of a 19-hour anime. You simply cannot condense this entire story down, but that’s what they try to do. Granted, I haven’t seen the anime or read the manga, but its fingerprints are all over this film. In similar fashion to the recent Dark Tower movie, the lackluster film adaptation struggles to work in its own right, but leaves me curious about watching what came before.
And on the topic of unintentional comedy, there’s several moments throughout that are exactly like that. This isn’t a comedy, yet I found myself laughing to the point where my dogs became concerned for my health. During the third act, a supposedly emotional moment takes place between two characters, and we slow down the frame rate substantially. It could’ve, and should’ve, been effective. Instead, Chicago’s ‘I Don’t Want To Live Without Your Love’ plays (a song I genuinely enjoy) and I struggled to hold it together. Most of Death Note’s music cues are fantastically mood setting, but this one had me rolling on the floor in hysterics during what should’ve been a powerful, emotional story beat.
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