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Death Note (2017) Movie Review

Updated on August 28, 2017
Alec Zander profile image

Alec is an up-and-coming film critic with a true passion for the film industry & hopes his reviews and articles will help launch his career.

Okay Americans, give it to me straight. Why can't you seem to be able to adapt an anime or cartoon into film without completely screwing it up? Dragon Ball: Evolution, The Last Airbender, and now Death Note. This was a blatant insult and a disgrace to the original material. Just stop already, okay America? Just stop.

The film follows Light Turner, who is sent a notebook called the "Death Note". Soon, he gets caught up in the power of the book only to soon realize that every action has consequences.

Okay, so let me go ahead and give a spoiler warning right here because I can not hold in the massive amount of hate that I have for this sorry excuse for a film. To people that have not seen the anime, please do yourself a favor and watch the anime first. Save the worst for last.

The worst part of this film is the story. The main idea is the only thing that is carried over from the original material. The story in this film is cringingly different. First off, Light was not specifically sent the Death Note as this movie portrays. Ryuk, the Shinigami (death god) who originally owned the book, dropped it in the middle of the street for anyone to pick up. It was pure coincidence that Light found the book in the first place. Secondly, in this film, Light was freaked out and scared when he saw Ryuk. Not so in the anime. He was startled, sure, but he went on to say he expected Ryuk to show up. He even knew Ryuk was a Shinigami and was fascinated to meet one. Next, where's Light's sister? He originally had a sister and his parents were certainly not divorced. Another thing, the movie showed Light being careless and not keeping the Note hidden and when Mia (Misa in the anime) saw it, he flaunted it and bragged about what he was doing. That is completely backwards. In the original material, Light was a conniving genius. He was always a step ahead of L and the cops and in no way would have allowed himself to screw up so badly.

Next, let's look at Mia. Mia was pretty accurate except for the fact that, in the anime, she had a Note and a Shinigami of her own and also would have never in a thousand years betrayed Light as she does in the film.

Up next is L. L was pretty accurate except for the fact that he never got emotional, much less let his emotions get the best of him. He was a genius and manipulated Light as much as Light manipulated him. They played mind games with each other and never became irrational or idiotic.

Ryuk is the next and final character on the list. While Willem Dafoe did an astounding job voicing him, the character was written all wrong. His looks were also "creeped up" and inaccurate. The original featured Ryuk as a curious being who liked to observe Light's actions and study human behavior. He never talked Light into using the Note or tried to blackmail him into doing anything. Ryuk genuinely warned Light about the rules constantly and wanted him to be smart. But he also didn't interfere and let Light do what he wanted. This film makes Ryuk out to be this creature obsessed with death and relished it when a human died. It was insulting to Ryuk and Shinigamis in general.

The film also cut out major plot points and skipped important details. For instance, it cut out Light's first girlfriend entirely. She was a huge part of Light's life and a major influence on Light's development as a character. It also completely cut out Rem and Near and ignored many events that affected Light in major ways.

In conclusion, I was highly disappointed...no, outraged. Death Note is one of my favorite animes and to see it disrespected like this absolutely hurt. I give Willem Dafoe credit for his voicework but that is the only thing good about this film. I give it a 0.5 out of 4.

© 2017 Alec Zander

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    • Alec Zander profile image
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      Alec Zander 4 weeks ago from Sylva, NC

      Vanessa - I think the anime is on Netflix as well. Do yourself a favor and watch it first.

    • NessMovieReviews profile image

      Vanessa's Non Spoilers 4 weeks ago from Moreton Bay, Queensland

      Oh no! I just reactivated my Netflix and saw the trailer to this last night and thought it looked awesome. Grrr Imma watch it though, Ive never seen the anime.