When Netflix announced they were making a live action version, I was curious but had a low expectation. The low expectation comes from watching so many other live adaptions of manga/anime. Most are disappointing and they are rarely good. Netflix produces some pretty good content and with their track record, I was hoping for a decent movie. Looks like I was hoping for too much.
The main reason Death Note was so entertaining was the drama and intellectual battles between L and Kira. But none of that is really present in the Netflix adaption. The careful planning and execution of the FBI agents is done rather crudely in this movie. We have Light’s girlfriend (who is involved from the start) go up to an FBI agent in a car park and taser him. Then gets him to write down names of other agents. Wouldn’t police trace the actions of these FBI agents and find some sort of CCTV footage placing the girlfriend of a Person of Interest near him? Can I also point out that Light never actually demonstrates anything that places him intellectually superior to those around him? L said he’s intelligent but his actions are moronic. The last scene is so stupid because when he brought up the website/forum I knew his plan straight away.
L’s portrayal in this movie is very problematic to me. He’s supposed to be very secretive yet he’s visiting crime scenes and holding press conferences? Also, the actor had kept some of L’s traits in one scene then forgoes it the next. Like how he holds things. He also set up a task force himself so why does he need the father again?
Ryuku is almost non-existent in this movie because the girlfriend replaces his role in this movie. The discussions on Death Note, Light’s vision of the future is all with his girlfriend. Someone he shares the secret of the note book to when he doesn’t really know her – just by first name and a chick he wants to sleep with. Oh and I do not know Ryuku’s motivation in this movie. Ryuku in the anime/manga, he comes to Earth out of boredom. In this movie? I don’t know. He’s also quite laidback and just soaking in the events but in this adaptation, he’s pushing Light to do stuff quite a lot and I didn’t like that.
At one point, I thought the movie could’ve made an interesting departure from the source material. There’s a scene where Misa(? don’t actually know the character’s name but I’m going to use this one) and Light disagree on something and I thought, she’s going to write his name down and take ownership of the note book. How cool would it have been if all this time Netflix teased us with a L vs Light showdown but actually gave us Misa who turns out to be even more intelligent than Light? She sort of does that at the end of the movie but in a very stupid way that allows Light to kill her.
I read that the director wanted a look at what is right vs wrong but I found there to be very little discussion of this. Or at least it was very shallow and I’ve now forgotten it.
Death Note (Netflix) live action is a very poor adaption of the source and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. Oh and no, there aren’t any “potato chip” eating scenes.