Is Netflix's Death Note worth watching?

Is Netflix's Death Note worth watching?

Netflix Original 'Death Note' Movie: Is It Worth Watching? - Flix and  Chillin

How would you react to meeting a Death God? Would you be calm and collected? Would you be slightly scared, confused even? Perhaps. If you were Japanese anyways. Apparently though, if you are an American, meeting a death god would go something like this: Alright...Let's do this. Death Note is a 2017 Netflix exclusive film based on the Japanese manga of the same name. But I used the word “Based” very loosely because besides some core concepts and character names there are more differences between this film and the original material then there are similarities. Who is this film for? Who should watch this particular version of the Death Note story? I’m not entirely sure. I’ve known the original Japanese story since its anime adaptation aired in the mid to late2000’s.

That was over 10 years ago. But you know, fans of Death Note might get some kind of sadistic pleasure out of watching this. Like when I was watching the film, I was facepalming every couple of minutes and constantly comparing it to the anime that I know and love, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the experience. I just don’t think I had the reaction that the creators were wanting. I very much saw this film less as the supernatural thriller it was probably meant to be and more…of a comedy. It’s not actually a comedy of course, but I liken it to knowing that the Exorcist was once one of the scariest films ever, but I can't help but laugh at the, what are now cheesy effects of it. Or how Shakespeare and his tragedies are more comical today than his comedies.

Netflix Original 'Death Note' Movie: Is It Worth Watching? - Flix and  Chillin

That sort of thing. Seeing the personality changes in some of the characters despite having the same names at times made this film feel like it was some SNL skit making fun of the material rather than seriously adapting it for an American audience. It’s like the film was trying so hard to be this edgy dark thriller it ended up having the opposite effect in the end. The 2edgy4u attitude, the whiny emo git of a protagonist, a synth soundtrack because hey Stranger Things was awesome right? Just too many things in it that scream it's trying to imamate what it thinks people want, while not understanding what it actually haves. Let’s quickly talk about a few things, first of all, this film was too short. I feel like this point is one that I make far too often on a lot of subjects, but here it defiantly fits the bill. The Netflix film is only an hour and 45 minutes long, and it tries to cover all the major story beats from the first 58 chapters of manga material.

Previously that same amount of material took25 episodes, or almost 10 and a half hours to cover in the anime adaptation, and about4 hours spread between two live-action films produced in Japan. Now, sure quite a lot of plot and story information is just straight up removed, from some of these adaptations. the Netflix adaptation only has one real owner of the Death Note while the Manga and the Anime have several by the time the story of Light and L actually completes, but those same plotlines were also removed in the Japanese live-action films. So Netflix tries to do all of the same things in half the time that the previous Live-Action adaptation did it in, and that’s just simply not enough time.

It would have been better if much of the story and lore of Death Note was easily explainable. If we weren’t dealing with supernatural elements like a Death God, the Note itself, or even an investigative genius, things that aren't common place and desperately need explaining it would have been fine. But it tries to just one-liner its way through these things while hoping for the same kind of emotional attachment to these elements. But that doesn’t work. A couple of sentences explaining L’s backstory is not enough to understand him as a character. Hell, a few scenes barely explain how he works and what his methods are but here we are just expected to go along with it.

Why is the Death Note movie so bad? - Quora

If this were a miniseries let’s say there would have been more time to flesh out these details. Might not have fixed everything, but it would have helped. Of course, another thing is that unlike the original material, this film is not a thriller. I’m not really sure what it is actually. It has far more gore to it then the story ever called for, the intellectual battles between Light and L are entirely non-existent, there’s a forced romance that’s completely one-sided though the exact opposite of what was there originally. Like what we have is just a mishmash of tied together story beats that didn’t really build up to anything. Didn’t really answer the question of what this was all for. Instead after it all, we had some weird convoluted explanation of why most of the major players are still alive despite breaking the universe rules to do so and a possible sequel hook?

Not sure if that’s going to work out, but hey Shyamalan confirmed that an Avatar 2 is in the works so anything is possible. I don’t feel like the creators of this film really knew what the original story was about, this version of Death Note portrays Lights a victim of circumstance. He was handed power he couldn’t control and was tempted to use it by both the death god who handed it to him along with a girl he thought he loved. He’s not exceptionally intelligent and only survived the ordeal because, well I don’t know why he survived. He shouldn’t have honestly, he’s the only version of the character to have any kind of final redemption and there was no real explanation for why it was deserved.

Though heck, you could make the argument that all the killings save for 1 in this film were done either not by Light at all, or done under the influence or prodding of another character. Like they were trying to absolve him of any wrongdoing somehow but that’s not Light. Light is an extremely intelligent, manipulative, entitled psychopath that has a goal to become a god of the world and will stop at nothing to achieve that goal. But that Light is not the light of this film. Which is probably why fans of the original material like me will come away from this with our heads shaking. Though it is a film though that completely met my expectations. They were just really low, to begin with.

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What I would have liked, and what I was hoping for prior to heading all the details many months back about this film’s plot, is a death Note AU. One where Ryuk instead of going to Japan and dropping off the note like he does in the manga just drops it off in North America. But not to a kid named Light. No, have a different kind of person get the note, one who is not shackled by the expectations of a character he could never hope to match. Show us how that character would have dealt with having the note, how much would they flaunt the power, how much would they fear it? This latest adaptation added in hand-written messages in the note itself telling light not to trust Ryuk, why not tell those stories?

If you are going to change as much as you did anyways why not go the whole way? It still might have been a flop of a narrative, but it would have been unique, and something that I could recommend a lot easier. As it is, I won’t say to watch this film. It’s not THAT bad. But it’s not a good starting point for the series, and should not be considered a replacement for any adaptation that came before it. I’d use it only as an example of where we can do better. When I did a video on the Live-Action Ghost in the Shell, I talked about how while that film might not have been the greatest, it was a baby step in the right direction. Here I think we are still taking baby steps, but they are so small I honestly can’t tell what direction those steps are taken in.

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With luck, this will be another signal to film producers that you can’t just slap a familiar title on a movie without taking into consideration what that’ll mean. If you want to make a Death Note film, make a DEATH NOTE film, not just some cheap imitation of one. Understand what it means to tell a story about that notebook, and respect the things that make it unique from everything else. But hey if you think the film is garbage donut worry, there are a ton of other adaptations out there, even a recent sequel film series from Japan last year.

And I’m sure that this adaptation won't the last one either. So, that’s it from me.