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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Death Note (2017)

I think I got to see what it is like to be on the other side of the “I hate remakes” debate with this movie. Never been a big anime fan so it didn’t bother me that they made this live action version of Death Note. From what I can see on the internet fans of the anime weren’t thrilled with the results. How about we see what a neophyte Death Note viewer thinks about it.

The movie follows a high school kid named Light. He isn’t the most popular student and gets bullied early on in the movie. A book drops from the sky and Light picks it up. The book is the Death Note and soon a demon shows up to explain how it works. If you write a name in the book you can cause that person to die. Light is skeptical, but after the bully loses his head he becomes a believer. Eventually he shares the book with a girl that he is trying to impress. Together they decide to make the world a better place by killing the bad guys and creating a mysterious god like character to take credit and scare the evil doers. The body count gets high enough that a detective known only as L takes the job of tracking him down. Horrible things happen when you make a deal with a demon, even if your intentions are good. This story is no different as it isn’t long before Light’s plans go off the rails.

There are a couple of things about Death Note that I really enjoyed. I liked the idea of the book and how it plays into the story. It seems like it would be fairly easy to manipulate the rules so that only good could come from it. But being a gift from a demon means that it won’t work out like that. But the way that the plan goes sideways on Light isn’t as obvious as it could have been. In fact, it isn’t so much the demon that screws it up, but instead human nature. I found that interesting. It would have been so much easier for the story to go down the path of the demon tricking him. That fact that it doesn’t was a nice twist.

The demon looks killer!
The other thing that I thought the movie did very well was the demon, Ryuk. The creature effects are accomplished with CGI. Normally I’m not a huge fan of that but since this is based on an anime character it works. The character has a cartoonish look, while at the same time being a bit frightening. Again, with the source material being what it is I thought they did a decent job. What I really loved about the character was the voice. William Dafoe could creep the hell out of me reading a grocery list so when I realized who the voice of Ryuk was I had a giant smile on my face. Since the character isn’t outwardly evil giving him a gravelly voice like Dafoe’s was important. Good call on the filmmakers.

I sort of enjoyed the movie. The kills were sufficiently gory, Dafoe was fun, and the story kept my attention. I don’t understand the hate. Well actually I might. I’m wagering if people are raging so hard about this movie the anime has to be insanely good. If you are one of those fans and are angered by my not horrible review of the movie take solace. I plan on tracking down the source materials because of the movie. So, there is that…

© Copyright 2017 John Shatzer

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