Directed by Adam Wingard, Death Note emerges as a cinematic effort to bring one of the most beloved and controversial manga series to the big screen.
Delving deep into moral ambiguities and the intoxicating allure of power, the film is an intense psychological thriller that teeters on the edge between reality and the supernatural.
For fans of the original Death Note anime and manga series, expectations were set high. So, how does the movie measure up?
I know that this adaptation scores incredibly low on many movie review websites. It seems fans of the original Japanese comic absolutely hated this Netflix adaptation.
I get the disappointment and negative reviews, but I don’t think it’s fair to judge a movie by how closely it sticks to the source material. I watched Death Note without knowing anything about the anime series or comic and still loved it.
So what is it all about and is it as bad as fans of the original think it is?
What Is Death Note About?
The premise of Death Note is simple yet intriguing. What would you do if you could kill a person by writing their name in a mysterious notebook?
When this leather-bound book of doom lands in the lap of schoolboy Light Turner (Nat Wolff) he must decide how to wield its power. The supernatural notebook also comes with a ridiculous amount of rules.
The most significant rule, however, is that writing someone's name in it while picturing their face will cause that person to die. Ryuk, a delightfully devilish character voiced by Willem Dafoe, introduces himself as the keeper of the Death Note and encourages Light to use it.
Adopting the moniker “Kira,” Light begins to rid the world of criminals, seeing it as a means to create a utopia where he is the ultimate judge. The world becomes divided with some seeing Kira as a god-like saviour while others view him as a murderer.
As the plot develops the film pivots from ‘Final Destination’ moments to Rumpelstiltskin territory. Yet, these contrasting elements never feel overly forced.
Then the mysterious and brilliant detective known only as “L” enters the scene. Tasked with capturing Kira, L engages in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse with Light, each trying to outsmart the other.
As Light's actions become more erratic and his list of victims grows, he finds his morality and sanity tested. The story builds to a gripping climax as the lines between good and evil blur, leading to a confrontation between Kira and L.
Death Note Official Trailer
Is Death Note Worth Watching?
Visually the movie is impressive. Homage is paid to the Death Note original manga origins with clever use of camera angles and lighting. The film has a feel of an early Spielberg movie or more recent Netflix series like ‘Stranger Things’.
With a talented cast, the story is fast-paced and riveting, ensuring viewers are on the edge of their seats from start to finish.
However, while all adaptations often involve changes, Death Note has significant deviations from its anime and manga origins, which may not sit well with purist fans.
Given that the original anime consisted of 37 episodes, which needed to be condensed into 1hr 40mins, parts of this film do feel rushed and some characters don’t get fully developed or explored.
Having said that, this is still a hugely enjoyable horror movie which offers more than just blood and guts.
Is Death Note Netflix As Good As The Original?
The original anime, with its intricate plotlines and deeply developed characters, is revered by many.
While the film captures the essence of the story, the limited runtime means certain aspects are inevitably condensed or changed.
The anime's depth and detailed exploration of the moral complexities surrounding the Death Note series are more expansive than the film's portrayal.
However, both versions bring their own unique flavour to this iconic tale. Basically, if you've never seen the anime and are a horror fan then you'll probably like this.
Cast Of Death Note
Nat Wolff (The Consultant) as high school student Light Turner/Kira
LaKeith Stanfield (Knives Out) as L
Willem Dafoe as the voice of Ryuk
Margaret Qualley as Mia Sutton
Shea Whigham as James Turner
Paul Nakauchi as Watari
- Apple TV brings you the future of television, right at your fingertips. Immerse yourself in the world of laughter, inspiration, and heartwarming moments with the critically acclaimed show, Ted Lasso, and a plethora of other captivating content.
- Star studded, award winning series and films.
Amazon Prime Video
- Welcome to a world of boundless entertainment, where thrilling stories come to life at your convenience. Amazon Prime Video invites you to explore a universe of gripping narratives, including the adrenaline-pumping series, "Reacher," and an extensive selection of captivating content that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
- Additional benefits of Prime Membership: Music Streaming Service, Amazon Photos and Exclusive Offers
- Delve into a world of original storytelling, where Disney's creativity knows no bounds. With Disney+ Originals like "The Mandalorian," "WandaVision," and "Loki," you'll witness new narratives and characters that expand the enchanting tapestry of the Disney universe.
- Great collection of Kids series and movies.