Monday, August 28, 2017

Death Note (2017)

Number Rolled: N/A
Movie Name/Year: Death Note (2017)
Tagline: None
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Mystery
Length: 100 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production Companies: Lin Pictures, Vertigo Entertainment
Producer: Jonathan Eirich, Brendan Ferguson, Pauline Fischer, Ryan Halprin, Jeffrey Harlacker, Jason Hoffs, Roy Lee, Dan Lin, John Powers Middleton, Masi Oka, Sarah Perlman Bremner, Ted Sarandos, Miri Yoon
Director: Adam Wingard
Writer: Charley Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides, Jeremy Slater, Tsugumi Oba, Takeshi Obata
Actors: Nat Wolff, Lakeith Stanfield, Margaret Qualley, Shea Whigham, Willem Dafoe, Jason Liles, Paul Nakauchi
Stunt Doubles: Lisa Chandler, Ania Markiewicz, Rhys Williams

Blurb from Netflix: Light Turner finds a supernatural notebook and uses it to mete out death, attracting the attention of a detective, a demon, and a girl in his class.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’m so angry right now.

Death Note (2006-2007) is my all-time favorite anime. There was nothing I disliked about the series. I binge-watched the entire thing in a matter of days and it inspired me to buy my very first manga. (I had some mangas in the house, but they were all my husband’s.)

Needless to say, I was dying to watch the live-action version. In fact, we didn’t roll for today because we both decided watching Death Note was too exciting for us to pass up.

Now, I understood from the very beginning that the film was being Americanized and that there would be differences. In fact, I understood there would have to be a ton of differences. After all, they were taking a thirty-seven-episode series and condensing it into a single movie. Characters would have to be sacrificed, some of the cat and mouse games between L and Light would have to be reworked, etc.

When it comes to stuff like that in adaptations, I’m very forgiving.

As long as the feel of the film accurately paralleled the feel of the series, I would be happy.

I am not happy. I am not happy at all.

I don’t even know where to start. I guess a good place, would be Nat Wolff (Ashby, The Fault in Our Stars, Buried Child).

I cannot, for the life of me, understand how anyone in any position of creative power could have possibly believed Wolff was a good representation of Light. Now, it’s easy to say that he was playing ‘Light Turner’ and not ‘Light Yagami.’ That’s all well and good, but changing this specific main character changes the entire story. It changes the feel of the story. It changes everything.

The Light in the series was a well-meaning, god-complex-having, genius, psychopath. The Light in this film was an easily-manipulated, semi-timid, parody of what he should have been. Either the adaption writers made a huge error in judgment, or Wolff was just very bad.

Although the story didn’t take the same road as the anime, I could have accepted that. In fact, there are thousands of possibilities I could have accepted – even with Light being acted badly – but the story line for this film, was not one of them.

I cannot accurately express how disappointed I am.

It wasn’t all bad, though.

Still speaking from my fan-girl point of view, the guy who played L was absolutely amazing. There were moments in the film that Lakeith Stanfield’s (War Machine, Get Out, Atlanta) posture and mannerisms actively took on the demeanor of an anime character. There’s one scene where his hand goes across a table – and it’s a simple movement – but it’s so perfect that I re-watched it. He embodied the weirdness, and the brilliance of L. In fact, he was as good as Wolff was bad.

The L character got screwed up later in the film, badly, but that was a script issue. Stanfield did his best to compensate.

This was my first Stanfield film. I don’t know the actor well. However, if his performance as L is any indication of what the rest of his career is like – I want to watch it all.

Willem Dafoe (What Happened to Monday, Finding Dory, John Wick) also pulled off a phenomenal Ryuk… but we all knew that was going to happen. It’s almost unnecessary to mention.

From an objective, non-fan-girl, point of view, Adam Wingard’s (You’re Next, V/H/S, The Guest) death scenes were very well done. Unfortunately, death wasn’t utilized to its full potential.

In the end, this didn’t feel like a film based on the series. It felt like a film based on the basic concept of the original Death Note. They dropped in some Easter eggs for fans of the show, but the movie did such a disservice to the feeling of the original that the eggs were almost an insult. It was as if they were asking ‘hey, if we put a few extra apples in here are you going to point them out and forgive us for what we’re about to do?’

The answer is no. Anime fans are not forgiving when their fandom is fucked with. I don’t even consider myself a hardcore anime fan, and I’m angry. They’ve got to be beyond pissed.

Cat’s Point of View:
I was very excited for the release of Death Note on Netflix. I had hoped that, in the face of so much heavy stuff going on with the weather, it would provide a short period of respite from the near constant worrying. It really sucks to be stuck out of reach to offer assistance to people you care about when they’re going through something like this.

The good news is that everyone is accounted for and alright, as of last check-ins earlier on Sunday. Some family members had to be evacuated while others had to stay in place due to their jobs as first responders. A friend who is ‘sheltering in place’ in a 4th floor residence in Houston told me today that there were about 130 tornado warnings so far. Not all of them were touchdowns, thankfully, but the weather is serious enough that conditions were favorable for that likelihood at any second – and it’s not over by a longshot.

My heart, thoughts, and prayers are with everyone already impacted by Harvey and those yet to feel the brunt of this catastrophically slow-moving weather system. I digress.

With the one-two punch combination of the tropical weather and the final act of this year’s con-crud staging revolt in my sinuses, I’m going to be the first to admit that my attention to the movie wasn’t what I’d want it to be on first watch-through. It was enough to have a general impression, though – one that didn’t change when I re-watched a few parts that were fuzzy in my memory.

All told, I was a bit disappointed. I was left with a bit of a meh feeling. I didn’t hate it, at least. I liked some bits of it immensely. Alas, other parts fell considerably short due to the condensation of plot which had to happen regardless if making a movie from the Manga or the anime series. All told, it wasn’t something to do cartwheels over, no matter how much I’d held out hope.

So, what did they get right? Ryuk was pretty cool. I think I already covered that in my Top 20, though. There was still some left to be desired with the representation of the ‘death god’ but I’d say they did a pretty good job with that. They got a few things right with L, but there was more missing from the representation than I think was present.

I think part of where things got a bit lost in translation, for lack of a better explanation, was in bringing the story to modern America rather than the original Japanese setting.

The film didn’t hold back on the gore factor, though. This is definitely a hard R rating for that TV-MA designation.

All in all, I wish they’d taken it in a bit of a different direction and that it didn’t end up feeling as rushed. Given what it could have ended up as, though, I’m thankful it wasn’t a total train-wreck.

Speech Available: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian
Subtitles Available: English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, French, Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 40%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 27%
Metascore - 41/100
Metacritic User Score – 3.4/10
IMDB Score – 4.9/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3/5

P.S. Some out-of-place behind-the-scenes clips during the beginning of the credits.

Movie Trailer:

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