Film Reviews

Death Note (2017)


Starring: Nat Wolff, Lakeith Stanfield, Margaret Qualley, Willem Dafoe

Director: Adam Wingard

Light Turner (Wolff) is a regular high school kid, til one day a book lands out of the sky and falls in his lap. It’s the Death Note book, and if you write a name on it’s pages that person will die. You can even specify how. But the book is accompanied by a dark spirit called Ryuk (voiced by Dafoe) and things don’t always go exactly as planned.

With the help of his new girlfriend Mia (Qualley), Turner embarks on a mission to rid the world of criminals and bad guys. But can he really keep Ryuk under control? Does Mia really care or does she just love power? Can can they stay ahead of the mysterious teen detective L (Stanfield) who wants to stop the killings?

Adapted from a really popular Japanese manga series, Death Note has it’s high and low points. I haven’t read the manga, so I can’t comment on whether it’s like the original, but on it’s own, I quite enjoyed it. It’s very teen, and very emo. I liked the main characters, especially the way that Mia is quite likable but you’re also aware that she might be more in love with power than with Light Turner himself. I also really like the creature design and characterisation of Ryuk. He’s quite creepy and unsettling, as he should be. Everyone feels a bit OTT in this film, but it seems like they’re all having fun and the performances are quite good.

The film uses a lot of 80’s classic music, and the visuals are quite stylised, which I think works well, but adds to the whole tone of things but a little bit loud, a bit much. Personally, I found there was a certain sense of humour in that, and I liked it, but I think some people will not. The plot was paced well, but sagged just a little in the middle, and I liked the resolution, which was interesting, but it left things open for a sequel, which … well, geez, another franchise…

On the whole, it’s a film about a high schooler and it feels like it: the emotions are high and all encompassing, everything is a drama, and some interesting moralistic questions are raised and given simple answers. It kind of works but it has it’s flaws, and I think some of you will be happier to skip it. I enjoyed it though.

See It If: you like teen manga adaptations and some thought provoking moral questions. It’s all a bit emo, but it’s fun.


19 thoughts on “Death Note (2017)”

  1. When you said 80s music, I never suspected you meant Australian Crawl and INXS. I remember Donnie Darko included Under The Milky Way Tonight by The Church too. Nice surprise to learn that Australian bands were that well known in the US.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hated it. Kira is intelligent, composed, and emotionless in the anime. The Light in the film is an overgrown baby with needy characteristics. N would never have used the Deathnote for evil intentions or for self preservation. Misa, Misa was the second Deathnote holder. She didn’t kill for the sake of killing. She was in love with Light. Sure, she was submissive, slightly dumb around Kira, but I enjoyed her character more in the anime than the film.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It does feel one dimensional. I would have enjoyed the film a lot more if it would have had different characters considering it was based in the U.S. I believe much of the criticism would have been tamed if they would have taken this approach.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m a fan of the original anime. There were also three live action Japanese movies released based on the original, that were very good (I only haven’t seen the third one). This one had a lot of bad press but that’s mainly because it was completely different from the original source material. I usually keep an open mind with these things, so I’m going to check it out anyway. As always: great post! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The anime is excellent. I’m not sure why they deviated so far from it but it doesn’t work. That said, now I’m curious to see it because of your review. To see if it has redeeming qualities. I had thought that Willem Dafoe was perfectly cast.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I think Willem Dafoe does really well. Honestly, if you like the original, this probably isn’t for you! ha ha! But if you do see it, as someone who knows the source material, I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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