As you may or may not be aware: Netflix released an original, live-action movie titled Death Note. Yep, exactly like the beloved 2006 anime based on the manga created by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata.
Except, the movie is so wildly different from the source material that you might almost call it an adaptation in name only. And the opinions are divided, mostly between those who have not seen the anime and found the film to be decent yet forgettable and those who are more or less attached to the anime and really started raging.
I belong to the latter group.
Naturally, I watched Netflix’s Death Note as soon as I could. Well, actually the word “watch” does not accurately describe what I was doing for those 100 minutes of mind-numbing torture. I started out sitting at my desk, hoping, praying for a decent film, maybe a few chuckles here and there. I wasn’t exactly excited by the trailer (here’s my reaction to that) so my expectations were near basement level. Two whole minutes into it I hit the pause button, got my trusty notepad and started to write down every scene, feature, plot development, line, etc. that I liked and disliked. And I did that for the entirety of the film, pausing every few minutes – okay, seconds – until I had my substantial list of 49 points.
So this is quite a different type of review, if you could even call it that. Might be more of a rant, a bullet-pointed gathering of personal, detailed opinions, if you will. And since it will be in near chronological order, this list includes many a spoiler – you were warned.
First, let’s hop into the positives. There were exactly 3 for me:
1) I enjoyed the detail that the Death Note already had names written in it when Light gets a hold of it. It makes sense that it had previous owners.
2) Light obviously not being a Japanese speaker, it was amusing to hear him pronounce “Ryuk” for the first time.
3) Masi Oka is in this movie! That’s pretty cool.
Alright then, let’s move over to the negatives column:
1) The main chick Mia is the stereotypical ‘I’m too cool to care’ wannabe rebel kid. Who somehow musters enough fucks and school spirit to be head cheerleader. It’s one of those movies.
2) Oh, your mother died? Thanks for the hammiest of expositions, my dude.
3) “You don’t know how much trouble you’re in!” – gets 2 weeks of detention. Woooooah.
4) The screaming? Really? Is this the latest Scary Movie installment?
5) Ok, I appreciated the straight up gore in the beginning but with every death it became more and more gratuitous.
6) Apparently Light and his dad just got apples hoarded in places besides the kitchen. Like by the stairs in a remote corner of the living room. Cause that is perfectly normal.
7) Light is supposed to be really smart but then out of nowhere practically confesses to killing someone to a girl he barely knows and has no affiliation with. And when she doesn’t immediately believe him, he tries his darndest to convince her of being a murderer.
8) “You’re not supposed to ask”. Yes, by all means, let’s continually perpetuate the notion that asking for consent is somehow unromantic.
9) The only Asians in this movie – safe for Watari – are evil or nameless background characters.
10) Why did Kira kill innocent people in that night club? I’m sure those dancers or waitresses weren’t all undercover high-profile criminals.
11) Thanks, L, for giving us the most awkward chewing in film history.
12) Even more awkward: taxi singing.
13) Watari hands out a business card with only one name on it. Like Madonna. And yet, Light is somehow able to successfully write it in the Death Note.
14) Press is sincerely listening to a guy in a mask and hood and without a name. With no questions.
15) Could light BE more suspicious when talking to his dad?
16) Light and Mia are looking up the Kira website in school on a public computer presumably without wiping the history log. Not what I’d call a “particularly bright kid”.
17) Smarty pants Light didn’t even hide the Death Note, did he. Dumbass.
18) Mia just told light he should MURDER his own father. And the most they fight is a quick “if you want out then just get the fuck out”.
19) Why doesn’t Light get a bit more to the point when talking to L? Not like Ryuk’s gonna kill him for telling someone about the Death Note. He told Mia after all. And L apparently already has him figured out so what’s the point in hiding anything from him?
20) Light wants to remain free from suspicion in the eye of the public, I wager. And yet, he starts shouting “Kira” in the middle of a crowded coffee shop.
21) Oh, you wanted to murder my dad in cold blood with not a second of hesitation. But you said “i love you” so hey, we good.
22) What’s Ryuk’s reason for being evil? I have lost interest in villains who are evil just cause ages ago. The audience gets no explanation or even an inkling why Ryuk wants Light to suffer or die at this point in the story. And it will be the only time that I’ll bring up the anime in this list, but a death god who starts chaos because he is bored is infinitely more interesting than one who does so solely because he is supposed to be villainous.
23) None of these people are as smart as they think they are. Just had to throw that one in there because I have been thinking it for the entirety of the movie.
24) The greatest detective in the world is supposed to be L but he’s unable to figure out where Watari went.
PLOT TWIST: he isn’t the greatest detective in the world.
25) Is he actually wearing a top hat?
26) Watari is in a facility where people were trained to become the greatest detectives. However, they leave extremely classified information just out in the open in a vault underneath an abandoned house instead of destroying it or taking it with them…wherever that is…and whoever they are.
27) There is water dripping from the ceiling of the vault but somehow the documents are completely clean and dry instead of withered and covered in mold. Sure.
28) Ofc Mia is into American Horror Story cause she’s just a goddamn EDGELORD, isn’t she (I’m talking about the picture in her locker).
29) Light shoving Brandon out of the way – is that a metaphor for how Netflix treated the source material? Cause that would be a level of self-awareness I did not expect.
30) Light is so fucking dumb it hurts. How did he not see it coming that Mia was going to betray him?
31) L is using a gun instead of his brain. Cause the best fucking detective is apparently not in control of his impulses. Did he forget to sleep? Is that it?
32) Why doesn’t Light just kill Mia and burn the page with his own name? No love lost between those two anymore.
33) Why hasn’t L tried to arrest Light sooner? Like when he cracked the case? What’s so different now? What evidence does he have now?
34) Light is running across town to a fucking Ferris wheel so we get to see a chasing sequence. Which is way too long. And clumsy. And no one needed it. Or wanted it.
35) Yeah. Cause shooting the control box of the Ferris wheel would just keep it moving smoothly. No problems at all. Good thinking there, Light, with your brains and all.
36) Suuuuper convincing that the wheel would just fall apart completely unprompted. Even if he writes it in the Death Note, they should have at least shown a rusty screw that initiates the destruction. And ofc not one other person is on it. And what the hell is that atrocious song?! This isn’t an 80s music video ffs.
37) Aaaand he lands in the water and none of the metal pieces of the wheel fall in even though it collapsed right above him. Yep.
38) How was he able to write his safe fall into the Death Note? The DEATH Note? DEATH?
39) How did the police (and all spectators) around them not see that Light fell into the water and then immediately try to rescue him instead of waiting for some dude to come and ‘save’ him?
40) No one in this goddamn movie can turn on a lamp!
41) Why does L turn insane by the end? He’s known who Light is for so long?! And why would he know what the Death Note is let alone how it works?
42) So…does Kira ever see justice? Is he killed? Incarcerated? Pronounced clinically insane? The ambiguity is real with this one.
43) A making of/blooper reel? Well, at least they seemed to have had a blast filming it.
44) Why do they play “The Power of Love” though? Love didn’t do shit in this movie.
45) There is zero depth to any of these characters. Zero.
And finally, the biggest nuisance of Netflix’s Death Note:
46) Of course the move couldn’t just concentrate on one country in which these murders happened oh nonono cause we are in fucking Hollywood with a capital H and we need to blow everything out of proportion so, naturally, Light is killing left and right all around the globe. And we’re still supposed to be glad he didn’t die in the end. Fuck that man. I wish that page had missed the burning barrel.
I definitely got my nitpicking rage on with this film. That being said, it’s not atrocious. I wasn’t offended by how bad it was and I certainly wasn’t bored. Visually it was fine. The CG was fine. The acting of the side characters was mostly fine. So I will give it 5/10 Ferris wheels.
If you care to check out another reviewer’s opinion, might I recommend this lovely gentleman’s video: Death Note – Movie Review.