Written by Shiggins
In this case, is more less?
Anime has never had a bright reputation when it comes to western adaptations, mostly due to what can only be described as "softening the blow". Anime is bizarre, insane, sometimes terrifying but always capable of giving a unique storyline that most Hollywood movies would never risk trying, due to alienating general audiences who might not appreciate some of the weirdness. Director Adam Wingard, best known for 2016's Blair Witch, vowed to help change that with his adaptation of the hit classic series Death Note. That's a bold claim to make, but was he able to pull it off?
Minor spoilers ahead.
|I never thought I'd say this but... the film really didn't explain the apples properly.|
|Wow, L. That's really damn rude. Other people need to sit there, you know.|
Adam Wingard should be applauded for his choice of style and design, managing to actually make this movie be taken seriously through smart writing, impressive sets and some impressive use of lighting and shadow during the dramatic scenes. I especially enjoyed how the deaths were portrayed in this series, feeling like a combination of Final Destination and Saw as Ryuk's amused laughter flows through the scene in a manner reminiscent of... well the wind of death, to be frank.
So visually, this film is great. Different, but great.
|Can't keep your Death Note clean? Pah. This is why the anime is much better.|
Let's now talk about the single best part of the series; Willem Dafoe as Ryuk. Good god, I love Willem Dafoe's performance. He uses his famous portrayal of Green Goblin to brilliant results here, giving Ryuk a wonderfully twisted aura about him with every line of dialogue. Cleverly, the film keeps him mostly hidden in shadow to hide his appearance and make him feel more like a creeping menace rather than a silly pest. Purists might be a bit upset at seeing such a character never embrace his comical side like in the anime, but I loved every second with him on-screen.
|Oh just perfect... Even the weird porcupine spikes he has are fantastic.|
|Something about L standing in front of the American flag really makes me upset.|
So far, I've been comparing the film to the manga but let's judge the film by its own merits now. The story is well-structured and Light manages to keep the story moving, but the pacing is very rushed and I really do wish the movie could have been longer to let some of the ideas develop. Although Light's relationship with L is lacking, his connection to his father really improves as the story goes on, despite a rocky start full of cliches. They really should have devoted more time to that aspect.
|"Ryuk, aren't you going to go help them?"|
"No wait. I want to see how stupid this gets."
Overall, the film is nowhere near the worst anime adaptation out there but it isn't reaching its full potential. Beautiful visuals and a few key performances aren't enough to make up for removing the anime's brilliant cat-and-mouse structure. Fans of the original will be squirming on their chair due to all the unfortunate changes, but newcomers should be able to forgive its shortcomings much easier. I think it's worth at least one watch.
Born under the stars of the Dark Gods, Shiggins owns the power of the Great Eye and is utterly magnificent in his omniscience. If you dare to discover more about someone as great as him, then go ahead. And to all my friends and family members, YOU are wrong and I should be disappointed! Not the other way round!,. You can find out about him or ask him stuff on ask.fm/shigginsishere or go to his tumblr page http://otakugajeel.tumblr.com/