Death Note fails to meet expectations

Tea’ Claus
Staff Writer

Death Note, an original film, is now available for streaming. COURTESY OF NETFLIX

Death Note, an original film, is now available for streaming.

Death Note’s newest film adaptation feels rushed, confusing and dissatisfying.

Directed by Adam Wingard, the film follows the story of Light Turner. Light is an intelligent high school student who finds a death note after giving a student his homework for money. Light reads the inside of the death note where he then meets the shinigami, or death god Ryuk.

Light uses the death note with a goal in mind. He wants to rid the world of criminals and make it a more peaceful place. The death of criminals causes civilians and law enforcement alike to take action. The nickname “Kira” is then used to describe the person or group responsible for the deaths.

However, the power of the Death Note becomes too powerful for Light and his accomplice/girlfriend, Mia. It drives the two mad as they try to find a way to keep the power without killing innocent people.

Death Note stars Nat Wolff as Light Turner, Lakeith Stanfield as the great detective L and Margaret Qualley as Mia Sutton. Shea Whigham portrays James Turner, Light’s father and head of the “Kira” case. Paul Nakauchi plays Watari, L’s “handler” who takes him to where he needs to be. Jason Liles plays the body of Ryuk, who is voiced by Willem Dafoe.

The cinematography is very well done throughout the film. The use of a slanted angle in the opening scene effectively captures the creepy and mysterious premise that’s featured in the book.

The use of over-the-shoulder shots mixed with low angle makes for a visual power struggle between Light and L in one of the film’s most climactic scenes.

Some of the far and medium length shots that involve Ryuk, as well as shots in which you can see Ryuk over Light’s shoulder, help portray his more menacing side as a death god.
The plot, however, suffers in two different areas: the extreme violence and the romance between Light and Mia.

The violence is unnecessary. The producers attempted to make gore and horror a central theme, when the genre is more consistent with that of a psychological thriller.

The romance in the movie seems to be very forced and in-your-face. The audience is overwhelmed with the repetitive notion that the characters are romantically involved. The characters share an excessive amount of screen time together that takes away from the narrative.

The end of the movie seems very rushed, leaving it almost unsatisfyingly-over, at an odd point in the timeline. The plot is also muddled by an overwhelming amount of events taking place at the same time.

The actors’ performances are not at the caliber that forged so many die-hard fans of the original series.

Light experiences a fair amount of development in the film, however it seems unnecessarily drawn out. He doesn’t grow the backbone needed to stand up to Ryuk and Mia until the climax.

Mia’s character is very hard to like and understand. Death Note gives her the power to take the lives of others, but eventually she wants to use it to take out the good guys. She wants to become the sole owner of the Death Note.

L’s character is surprisingly well done, especially with the original character being so calculating. Lakeith Stanfield perfectly plays all of L’s mannerisms, from the way he loves sweets to his tendency to put his feet up on chairs.

Weirdly, though, the character becomes extremely emotional towards the end. This completely goes against the way L’s character had been from the beginning of the movie, so it was disappointing to see that drastic change.

The best and most interesting character in the movie is Ryuk. Dafoe plays the persona of death god exceptionally well. Defoe’s interpretation of the character reinforced the themes and motif featured throughout the film.

The raspy and menacing sound of his voice, paired with Ryuk’s lines, perfectly fit the role. The use of CGI to give Ryuk a hunched over appearance only adds to his diabolical presence.

Overall, there are obvious issues with the characters and plot, but the editing, along with Willem Dafoe representation of Ryuk, makes the movie a little easier sit through. The film tries to stick to the original feel of the show, but does not do a very good job with it, leaving fans of the original disappointed.

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