*Sighs* Let’s discuss it.
First, for those of you not in the know, the source material was incredibly fascinating because unlike most anime, it wasn’t reliant on action. Instead, it took mundane actions and made them exciting, hyper-stylizing writing in a notebook or even eating potato chips.
While sure, you get the memes and people complain it’s boring, but it’s really about the defiance in the action, the passion of Light doing what he thinks is best, and eventually to the game between Light and L. This movie does none of that. Sure, it’s flashy, and that’s to pander to American audiences, and poorly at that. I’m sure some progressive millenials will cry “whitewashing” and others will complain about L’s casting as well. I get the idea behind it, trying to separate itself from the original content, but it’s a move that wasn’t done with full commitment and it suffers badly for it. The casting’s best pick is Willem Dafoe as Ryuk (A surprise that was pleasant, though his time onscreen is criminally low) the rest seems to just be B movie fodder. Nat Wolff seems as if he’s playing Light as a teenage Gollum. Dangerous to be sure, but cowardly when confronted, though at least the performance is consistent. Onto Keith Stanfield’s “L” which seems at first, generally inoffensive. riffing off the mannerisms of the anime counterpart, though quickly deteriorating into a bland quick-to-anger official with nothing to lose who acts erratically, and not in the way his anime counterpart did. The rest of the cast are nothing special.
Although hammy acting aside, the real sins lie in just how edgy this version is. It feels like it seeps into final destination territory at times with the excessive violence. The first kill is decapitation, which is pretty messed up for a kid who’s messing with a supernatural artifact for the first time. I saw this, which they showed in full, and groaned. The effects were cheesy and gross. and inaccurate. A person being hit by a car doesn’t explode into meaty chunks. and the casual “fucks” in dialogue. I get that this is a netflix venture, and therefore skirts the typical MPAA ratings system, but this was excessive, even for me who has a fairly filthy mouth. There’s a time for fucks, and it’s not in my Death Note. Alternatively, there feels like there’s a bit of Twilight in here too. Guy with powers meets a plain but pretty girl and so forth. It’s pretty obvious that the writers did all this to capture a younger demographic but it’s just been done, and it falls flat.
Finally, This movie could’ve done so much better if it had just taken a risk to tell a different story involving different leads. Leave Kira and L to the source material. Create something new rather than retread on loved material. The series got a pair of live-action movies that were dubbed into english with the original anime dub voice actors. If you want a spin on the show, watch that. It’s faithful to the source with a slightly different outcome. If you want to see Dafoe as Ryuk, give it a week. you’ll be able to see it on youtube. Save yourself the pain. 1.5/5.