I wrote a blog post earlier today regarding the upcoming live-action, Hollywood Death Note movie on Netflix. Thought I would share it here!
So they really went and made a Hollywood-style, live-action Death Note movie. It’s being released on Netflix next month.
And judging by the trailer, the movie looks…so…bad, at least compared to the original anime. The original Death Note was a 37-episode adaptation of the manga, an epic, long-form psychological horror-thriller of profound intelligence and striking style. I haven’t seen the original Japanese live-action film adaptations, but I can’t fathom how anybody could possibly preserve the sheer epicness, the angsty, Gothic motif, and deep, thought-provoking exploration of the concept of justice that made the original so frakking good…while compressing the narrative into just two hours and also scrapping the animation—and the moody, atmospheric coloring that came with it…and the shock that came with seeing such a grim, violent story play out in animated form—for real actors and locations. This movie isn’t the whitewashing we feared it would be, like with Ghost in the Shell—they averted that by simply not setting it in Japan—but a one-off, two-hour Death Note movie is just not feasible.
My greatest fear is that this film will lack the intelligence of the original and that people will think that it reflects the original and so dismiss it. Because the original Death Note is the kind of series that transcends its animated format, that adults of all ages should see, because on top of being top-notch entertainment, it is wildly thought-provoking (if frequently hard to watch), exploring almost ad nauseum many themes most TV shows shy away from.
So watch this new movie. Maybe it will be good, at least enjoyable. But don’t be fooled: the original Death Note is not shallow, special effects-, action-driven Hollywood trash; it’s a classic thriller in which right and wrong are rendered completely ambiguous, humanity’s hubris is frequently exposed, and potato chips are taken…and eaten.
P.S. +1 for casting Willem Defoe as the voice of Ryuk. That is uncanny.