Netflix’s recent movie adaptation of the anime series Death Note inevitably disappointed not only die-hard manga fans but the general public as well.
There is a large amount of poorly selected changes from the anime to the film. I’ll try and pack in as many as I can. Instead of the confident Japanese protagonist, Light is portrayed as a whiny teenage American boy. The casting of Nat Wolff as the main character is a prominent concern but also overshadowed by many others.
Light’s love interest, Mia, is a completely different character than the one seen in the graphic novel, and in the worst ways. Their relationship in the movie is shoved down your throat within the first second of their meeting. It uses cheesy high school movie quips and an ’80s try-hard soundtrack to make them appear alternatively cool.
In the series, Mia is loyal and falls in love with Light’s hidden identity, Kira, and then the character himself. Despite this, in the movie she’s a neurotic, scheming partner that didn’t even bat an eye when Light introduced his newfound magic book of death. Her character arch is completely out of tune with the original and adds an immense amount of mediocrity to the film. She even has a “Normal People Scare Me” magnet in her locker, if that says anything.
The death god that guides Light’s “journey” of killings, Ryuk, does do some justice to the anime series. Willem Dafoe perfectly voices the heinous-looking, jacked up offspring of the Joker. His sinister and chilling voice gives his character a rightful match to the on-screen presence.
However, the deaths are unnecessarily gruesome and obscure, as if they’re trying to appeal to some GTA fan base but overshooting their target. Instead of solely using heart attacks like the anime, the movie creators apparently thought, “Let’s decapitate a guy with a ladder.” It’s unsettling to watch and that’s coming from someone who loves Game of Thrones.
The entire film is shot like it’s trying to copy another director’s artsy style and failing miserably. With garbage cans on fire in alleys and characters running into everything for dramatic effect, it’s safe to say the entire production of the film is overall low quality.
The plot kept me watching because, all things considered, it was tough to predict the end. I also laughed at the melodramatic closing moments. It seemed like the movie really tried to add a trendiness to its plot, which showed throughout all of its stylistic choices. This review shouldn’t speak out as a critique from a pretentious film buff, but rather an average citizen who knows a bad movie when she sees one. I can’t lie when I advise to watch the original anime instead.
Contact CU Independent Arts Staff Writer Kristin Endahl at email@example.com.