Netflix live adaptation of the very successful Japanese Manga is by comparison to Ghost in The Shell earlier this year, not very good.
Let’s begin with a short recap. A young boy named Light Turner finds the Death Note falling down from the sky and learns that anyone whose name is written in it will die, and decides to start ridding the world of criminals together with his girlfriend Mia and the god of Death Ryuk under the alias of Kira.
And that is probably all we need to say about the story, the original manga has been incredibly successful going over 12 volumes and an anime series, and even a musical adaptation went on stage in Japan and South Korea in 2015. Japanese culture are incredibly popular here in the West and Hollywood are just beginning to notice that, now Netflix has spent a lot of money-making this american adaptation and let’s not talk about the so-called whitewashing, cause that is bullshit and rather focus on the technical aspects, most of the cast here is really well done. Willem Dafoe voices Ryuk and seeing how he is the most creepy man in Hollywood he does it very well, and Margaret Qually is very good in the role of Mia, Lights classmate and love interest who becomes obsessed with the Notes power. And we have Lakeith Stanfield as the mysterious L. a highly autistic police officer that is being sent to the US to investigate the 400 murders done by Kira.
Now the directing is done by Adam Wingard, a man known for directing a lot of creepy thrillers, and his job here is not bad. He manages to create some really gory death scenes and the CGI on Ryuk is visually pleasing to look at. Dafoes motion capture and voice overs are creepy, but sounds a bit unenthusiastic.
The main problem with the directing is that he is trying to make Light and Mia seem like Mickey and Mallorey from Natural Born Killers, and that is after Light has said like twelve words to her. He really has some serious problems in who to confide in regarding the psychotic god of death hanging over his head, and after that everything goes to shit.
Most of the characters is not very well done. Light is a screaming brat with no kin dof memorable characterization what so ever, and even though Margaret Quallys acting is not bad as Mia, she serves more as a plot than a character and it is quite easy to see just how she and Light are not a very good couple from the beginning. THere is one really good highlight here worth mentioning and that is Lakeith Stanfield, he is easily the character that manages to pull this movie through the hour and forty-five minutes it is. He delivers some of his finest acting in this role.
It is pretty clear that they have tried to squeeze in way more in the script then they had the time for, cause a lot of the subplots disappear fast, and it doesn’t help that this thing had three screenwriters. It is kind of miracle that Wingard has managed to even make a movie so mediocre with a script this bad. Death Note suffers from an identity crisis it doesn’t really manage to solve, and the ending tries to sort out the entire 100 minutes of film in thirty seconds, and really fails at doing it, the pacing is all over the place and makes the movie feel like a mess
Now Death Notes biggest issue, is that it is completely forgettable and upright feels boring, and it shouldn’t have been. The source material for Death Note is more than good enough to create a masterpiece of a film if it was done right, which it is not.
Death Note is about a bored demon that ends up boring the audience, it is not nearly as good as it should have been, and the result is a mediocre forgettable snooze fest. Most people will probably even turn it off before they reach that abomination of an ending, but Lakeith Stanfields acting is actually worth enjoying.