The Death Note Movie is The Worst Thing Ever
My anime and manga days are behind me. Today, I follow “One Piece” and One Punch Man” — that’s it. However, I still have a personal vendetta that has stayed with me since I was young. That is to find the anime/manga that anyone can enjoy regardless if they like Eastern entertainment.
Movies like the dystopian cyberpunk “Akira,” or Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away;” or thrilling shows such as “Cowboy Bebop” or “Monster,” are some of my all-time favorites. Moreover, they work for everyone if you’re willing to give them a try.
I like sharing my passions with other people so finding content that bridges the gaps is a personal goal of mine. I carry this philosophy into my music, sports, and gaming tastes as well. But when it comes to anime, however, there’s one undisputed king, and that’s “Death Note.”
I have shared this show with everyone. If you like psychological thrillers, “Death Note” has you covered. If you’re a fan of genius writing that sprinkles the clues from the very beginning it has it. And if you like morally ambiguous ethical questions that speak to the core of your humanity; yup, it has that too.
“Death Note” perfect. So when they announced a “Death Note” movie on Netflix I thanked the shinigami’s for this blessing they bestowed on our world. Then the piece shit came out.
Everything the Death Note Movie Gets Wrong
The “Death Note” movie is one of those rare adaptations that gets absolutely everything wrong. Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” film adaptation wasn’t even this bad.
Conversely, an adaptation doesn’t have to be overly faithful to its source material. A movie has to take certain liberties to condense the 108 chapter manga series. However, the only two things the Netflix film and the manga share are in likeness. The tone, pacing, story, and characters from the manga were all thrown into a blender for this movie.
Yes, there is still a Death Note, a book in which if you write a name inside, that person dies. But from there the movie veers off in its own story. Sure, it could’ve been great new territory to explore with a versatile tool such as the “Death Note.” However, none of the creative decisions feel purposeful in the “Death Note” movie.
Light Yagami (Nat Wolff), a genius, a seemingly kind-hearted high schooler who has a twisted albeit strong moral view of the world is one of the most complex protagonists ever created. His rival, “L” (Keith Stanfield), matches Light’s creativity and genius but is strikingly different in his appearance and personality. Additionally, “L” fundamentally disagrees with Light’s moral views. This lays the groundwork for one of the best cat-and-mouse games of all time where Light attempts to kill all the “bad people” of the world and “L” tries to catch him with the help of the Japanese police.
The “Death Note Movie” misses all of this. In the movie, Light is a scared idiot who has a girl use him for the “Death Note.” “L” is a much better portrayal, but he isn’t witty or fun, and he completely ovewhelms Light with his intellect. And beloved side characters like Ryuk, the Japanese police force members, and Near are missing or mishandled.
I binged the entirety of the “Death Note” anime with my little sister to see if the show still held up. It did and she loved every second. The anime still holds its own and is at the top of my list for converting anime naysayers.
After we finished bingeing I told her we’d watch the Netflix movie and make fun of it. 10-minutes in and we soon realized it wasn’t worth it.
Why couldn’t Netflix and director Adam Wingard have left “Death Note” alone?