Death Note (2006)
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What happens if you have the power to bring about death to any individual with just the mighty stroke of the pen? How would you use your new found ability? Would you decide to inflict capital punishment and take away lives of criminals, convicted, suspected or otherwise? Would you be the grim reaper, transfixed in your own branding of right and wrong, backed by the power of mortality?
Based on a popular Japanese manga written by Takeshi Obata, Death Note tells the story of the god of death, bored with life, making available his Death Note(book) to the human world. Picked up by aspiring lawyer Light (Tatsuya Fujiwara), he soon finds that the rules written in both English (yes) and Kanji on the inside front cover, actually work - whosoever has his name written inside the book, will meet death via a heart attack. That's just scratching the surface, as Light continues to experiment with the capabilities of the book, as well as to internalize all the rules to call upon some serious manipulation of the rules to work to his advantage.
Why does the book operate with that set of rules, well, that's something you have to accept at face value if you want to enjoy the movie. Starting off with the deaths of criminals as Light experiments, soon the authorities take notice of these mysterious deaths, and launch a nationwide dragnet to hunt down the perpetrator. Foreign help is also called in, and L (Ken'ichi Matsuyama), an unseen and only heard police investigator, gets roped in.
It's a battle of wits as Light tries to keep his Kira persona (given by the press) alive while avoiding being caught by an ever zealous L, as both boys (yes, boys) engage and challenge each other. One to continue utilizing the notebook in more creative ways, while the other trying his best to second guess, and to see through guises and red herrings. Things become more interesting when family ties are involved, and relationships get put to the test in an interesting run up to the final scene. I thought Light's character development was crucial to the movie, and Fujiwara brought that through his role quite effortlessly with his impish looks.
The god of death, a frequent companion of Light, master of the book and actually is the voice of rational thought, is totally CG rendered, which allows for its supernatural movement to be as natural as possible. However, the design does resemble Brian Bolland's Joker with its patsy white face and permanent teeth showing grin, except for its extremely huge spanned wings, and punk like hairdo.
Death Note succeeds in making you sit up on the edge of your seat for the most parts - it does have certain slow moments in the movie which plods the pace down a tad too much. While it presents differing views on capital punishment, the movie itself doesn't suggest which is right or wrong, but is almost adamant in bringing forth the notion of the corruption of power. I haven't read the original manga to do a comparison, but as a movie in itself, it works, given its relatively high production values.
Part 2 is already signed, sealed and soon to be delivered. I can't wait to see how the movie takes off from where it ended. Intriguing, interesting and entertaining stuff!
Plot Changes: Chronologically, it's much the same as the manga - but a massive plot alteration comes in the form of original character Shiori. I'm still not entirely sure why they chose to give Light a girlfriend - but she has a major role (along with Naomi, who now has a much bigger role than in the manga) - and an event involving her, Naomi and Light is the climax of the movie.
Misa has a very minor role, although given how little of the manga timeline was covered, it's not really surprising. She only has a couple of scenes, but it's nice to see her. Rem makes no appearance.
I was a little disappointed that they changed one of my favourite scenes - I won't say how in case you haven't read the manga, but Light and L meet in a completely different way. :( There were also a number of weird, irrelevant-seeming changes, as you always get with movie adaptations. :p Such as changing Raye Pember's surname to 'Iwatari', and altering the NPA Kira team to include a woman. Unimportant, but odd to note. :p Acting: On the whole, I think the acting was excellent, and the movie was (mostly) cast brilliantly. Although I still don't think that, visually, Fujiwara makes a very good Light, he was certainly convincing, and does a good evil smirk. :p I think most of the problems I had with Light were down to direction, rather than Fujiwara's acting. (Also, I think it has to be said he does a great job with Ryuk - you can't tell he was acting with a stick at all :p) Personally, I think that Matsuyama really stood out as being plain awesome. :D His L was nigh-on-perfect, and I don't even mean in appearance; the gestures, posture, the way he holds things and his mannerisms in general. Slightly more sullen than I'd expected, but brilliant. (and his love for sweets is still there, and even more emphasised than in the manga. I think he's eating in every scene. xD) Also notable was Seto Asaka - I just think she played Naomi really well, especially within the new role given to the character.
CG: (ie, Ryuk!) :D Ryuk was certainly... interesting. But he's one of my favourite characters in the manga, and I loved what they did with him. His voice is perfect, and appearance-wise, pretty much got him just right. Only problem is, sometimes the CG just doesn't look that good. It varies of course - sometimes it looks amazing, but other times... really not. But on the whole he was done well, considering how surreal his appearance is.
Pacing: The movie has a really interesting opening - you see a hand writing in a book, and then various criminals dying of heart attacks, while their name is 'written' across the screen. Unfortunately, after than I found it a little slow until L showed up (which wasn't until after halfway through) - although perhaps that's due to him being my favourite character. But regardless, since a lot of the movie is just setting things up and exposition for later, it was probably to be expected. That's not to say it isn't interesting, as it is, but... one of the best aspects of Death Note is the interaction between Light and L, and you don't get that until later.
Overall/General: I think it's a great movie, and works with the premise of the manga well, without being slavishly faithful (which is never a good thing :p) However, it does have its problems.
Personally, I wasn't that happy with Shiori's addition to the story. Taken by itself, her plot-thread was actually rather interesting, and a nice idea. However, I felt it altered Light's character too much - his motivations for doing what he does; what he's like as a person. They already changed him by leaving out that part of why he does what he does is because he's bored (Ryuk, too) - and, add Shiori, and you're left with a cold, evil teenager who hates criminals, and apparently seems like he can get close to people. In the movie, I almost think he comes across as too cold-blooded, too soon.
This is all fine if you haven't read the manga, I think, and it's probably brilliant if you can take it for what it is. But... I missed Light's boredom and utter god-complex which was so obvious in the manga. :p And his aloofness - the implication that he wouldn't have a girlfriend because no-one was good enough for him.
Er, but my slight issues with Light's character aside, it's a great movie. xD dark and full of suspense (but with moments of humour... L offering a kebab of sweets and cakes to Chief Yagami in total seriousness comes to mind :D), and very enjoyable. I can't wait for the second half, and I'm really interested to know how they're going to try and resolve it (as, clearly, Death Note actually goes on for five more volumes after where they're intending to stop.) So, despite a few issues... Death Note pt. 1 = awesome. :D
This movie has its own story to tell and pleases me to spend my boring afternoon watching the bootleg copy of it. I enjoyed a lot of detective movies and this exceeded my expectations. I saw how Light and L battle their wits using method after method. Light tried so careful not to get caught under L's nose but by doing this L advances closer and closer to get to the conclusion. Characters portrayed well especially L. The CGI-freaked Death god may have some few flaws but fitted well in the scenes where he's needed. Story has their own uniqueness that I nearly sided to the vigilance of Light then found out to myself that I'm now confused for what Light did to escape revealing himself nearly at the end of the movie. L may be freakish but fits well to his demeaning role.
Overall I enjoyed it and planned to watch DS anime to see what is their big difference their talking about. I recommend this for those who like different approach of storytelling especially for those who doesn't have the unbreakable habit of comparing live-action adaptation to anime.
As for the story itself, it's a pretty hard film to describe for Western audiences. If you are already an anime/manga freak, then you probably will not be scared away by the odd plot line and story elements about the supernatural. However, for the uninitiated, please try to suspend judgment--the film can be enjoyed by anyone--not just anime/manga fans. I am much more of a casual fan of the genre and enjoyed the film immensely. My wife generally hates anime and loved the film. And, my insane "sold my soul to anime" teen loved the film as well. In light of this, I really think this live-action film is good entertainment for all.
One final note is that the guy playing Light's father is Chairman Kaga from Iron Chef. Throughout the film, I kept expecting him to whip out a yellow pepper and eat it, but unfortunately he did not!
Overall though, this movie is a must see!!!
The characters are wonderfully and are perfectly portrayed! Ryuk is outstanding and rather entertaining to watch, especially when he goes into apple withdrawal's.
It keeps you wanting more and keeps you on edge on what will happen next. The choices the characters makes and why, reflects our reality in a sense. The plot is simple yet so complex. What really gets to me is the idea of this whole deathnote, a responsibility, a choice, a sacrifice for the sake of one's belief and morals. This is those kind of movies where you tend to think quite deeply in absorbing the story yet allowing yourself to be entertained. Recommended to all. You can't miss this. Something different, interesting.
Now obviously the plot needed to be condensed and changed but they did very well. All the important parts are there and the ending, which strays far from the manga, is actually even better then what actually happened in that instance in the story. It wasn't conveyed the complex story involving a genius highschool student who's use of a notebook that kills people that get's him involved in a proverbial chess match with the detective L, but they did a fine job. Misa, despite her short screen time, acted the part of Misa perfectly, down to the voice.
Fans of the manga should enjoy as long as they don't expect an exact replica of the manga, and fans of thrillers should enjoy this as well.
Story: To say it stayed true to the manga, it did not. To say it strayed a lot from the manga, it did not. Suffice to say that the authors created a parallel story that made the movie stands on its own, but also gave manga readers a good enough adaptation to satisfy their obsession, but did not arouse any anger. The opening sequence was definitely a good idea (except for the part where Light used the Death Note in public, which in the manga would have been a fatal error). Also, the subplot that showed us Light's conviction was simply brilliant. And I have to say that the creation of the new ending sequence was excellent (even though I figured it out halfway through the movie).
Unlike The Fellowship of the Ring that gave the movie an incomplete ending that leaves audience unsatisfied, the authors created a new plot that not only breathes new life to the entire premise, but also made a great ending to the movie, yet at the same time, left a major cliffhanger on the audience. Can't wait for the sequel! Directing: A very good adaptation to the manga in every way, except for two items. First: L uses a Mac Powerbook to communicate with the police. Even the manga authors/artists knew about Macs' trademark sphere speakers. Yet, the director (or art director) chose to use a cheap non-branded speaker. Second: final scene flaw. If everything was planned by Light from the start, why did he fell so ecstatic in learning Naomi's name? He should feign ignorance! Also, what's with the pen? Acting: Ken'ichi Matsuyama is brilliant as L. He captured every single habit of L perfectly, from his blank stares to his odd behaviors. However, I think the make-up artists put too much powder on his face. He almost looked scary at first glance. Having seen Tatsuya Fujiwara in Battle Royale II: Requiem, I was convinced that he wouldn't pass as Yagami Light (although he was good in Battle Royale). And I was right. Light is an insanely calm but ultimately ruthless person who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal (you can tell by looking at his eyes), even more so in this movie than in the manga because of the ending. Yet, he is that great actor who could fool anybody, even L.
However, Tatsuya couldn't project any ruthless aura, at all. In many scenes, he almost looked too forceful to be Light. Maybe it's because he has a little too much weight on him. Maybe it's the hair. But mostly, it's his eyes. It just couldn't give you that Look of Evil. Oh, and he couldn't grin wickedly either.
Ryuuk: Well, I was disappointed. With CGI technologies that created the Final Fantasy movies, Ryuuk looked utterly unrealistic and totally un-intimidating. Sure, they got all the details, actions and facial expressions, and the voice-over is incredible, but he just didn't fit in the picture. Somehow, he couldn't blend into the movie. He should have been real, but only visible to Light, which was what made the character so incredible in the manga.
Art Direction: Art direction was sparse but gave just the perfect feel for the movie, though I didn't know L was such a big eater.
If this movie is so great, why did I give it a 9 and not a 10? The production crew made one fatal flaw in the movie.
In such a story where intelligence and logic is centered, explanation is overwhelmingly important. One of the, if not the most crucial factor that made the manga so powerful, is explanation, or rather, how the story was explained.
What happened, why it happened, and most importantly, how it happened. I doze at such long-winded explanations, normally, but when reading the manga, it is the explanations that gave me goosebumps. It's like reading into the minds of the characters. Thus is the flaw of the movie. By way of explanation, it leaves viewers who did not read the manga lost and unable to appreciate the intricacies of how the events were planned, carried out, and discovered.
Although the ending scene was perfectly explained (probably because it was written especially for the movie), the rest of the movie were not, hence the mixed reviews. Take the FBI Agent scene for example. The anime did a better job than the movie. What a let-down. The director (probably in his obsession to stay true to the manga) has forgotten the existence of Ryuuk. He is the best premise a director can have in communicating to the audience the crucial explanations of the movie, as Ryuuk can act like the audience, asking the most important questions to Light. Alas, the two's interactions were minimal and that was the downfall of the movie.
All in all, I enjoyed the movie immensely. I was shouting (almost), getting goosebumps, and having intellectual orgasms from the complexity and intricacies of the story. Of course, I am very familiar with the manga. However, for those who are not, I believe they will not enjoy the movie as much, which is a very sad fact. This is not some dumb brainless Hollywood gore fest. Anyone who has half a brain of intelligence would watch this movie, and should know how to appreciate it.
And may be that was the reason I was spell bound for 2 n so hours..
It's an amazing movie with a script that can make you go craaaaaaaaaaazy! What a fantastic idea.. A death note, Gods Of Death, Kiera, L, Light Yagami... WOW! I found Tatsuya Fujiwara very cool n in fact every one of the characters have done a commendable job..
I was taking a break from Hollywood movies and what a break it has been.. I have discovered such gems from Korean, Chinese and now Japanese Cinema.
This definitely points to our lack of ability to project Asian Cinema around the world. Hollywood does it with aplomb. Of course it helps them that they are promised a ready audience, however films so beautiful as this must have been a phenomenal success all around..
Anyways, I regret the fact that I did not see these movies before but Hey! I am excited as hell to watch more...
Casshern and Dororo are on my immediate search list.. Who knows where these would lead me..
I would love to talk to someone who knows about movies based on Manga or Anime... mail me! If u love thrillers or beautiful cinema, either way this one will not disappoint u.. It's a Must Must must watch....
The setup is simple: genius teen gets supernatural power and abuses it. A perhaps greater genius teen battles him. This one is immature and addicted to sweets. The thing ends with an encounter between the two teens them where each appreciates the gifts of and threat from the other. There is an animated demon. Along the way, you find writing, acting and general production values (other than the unimaginative demon) are lower than for your average TeeVee show.
If you want to get value out of this, you have to pay attention to the rules, see how the villain plays them and imagine what you would do, how clever you could be.
The rules are that you have to have someone's face in your mind and write his/her name in a certain book. In 40 seconds they die, unless you specify otherwise. In this case, you can manipulate the time and manner of death. You apparently can get others to do the face recall and writing of names. This allows for rather detailed scripts to be written in advance and if future episodes have promise it will be in how we are conned by events we see that are pre-determined by the script in the book.
Some other rules: if you touch the book, you can see the demon, who harvests the years "left over," from the time of death to the time the person was supposed to die. The demon is otherwise invisible and is there storywise so that these rules can be explained. If the owner of the book passes it on, then his entire memory of it and his actions is erased.
A tantalizing plot development is in the last few minutes. An equally immature girlie girl a TeeVee celebrity because of this coy silliness may have been given a book.
A real writer, working for a mature, demanding audience could actually do something clever and worthwhile with this. But I doubt that will happen.
Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
I was like "What the hell?" throughout the movie,though 60% of the movie was the same as the manga,but the director just changed the genre of DN from a psychological thriller/detective story to a romantic film.
Below were the changes in the movie:(marked by * *) * I bet those who have read the manga will know Light doesn't have a real girlfriend. Shiori in the manga,was asked by Light to be his temporary girlfriend,who only appeared in the bus scene. But in the movie, Shiori was like a major role and sorta like the climax of the movie. She and Light have many scenes together, and they were dating all the time. Because of that, Light in the movie was wrongly portrayed in the movie. Light was supposedly to be those who don't like dating girls and stuff.....
Talking about Light,Light in the movie was a bit too evil. I think Tatsuya Fujiwara's acting was okay, but he just got Light wrong(a bit),he made him TOO evil. Light at first wasn't evil, but had a mind full of justice, he started to be evil later,but not this early. And Light was supposedly to be handsome and have the "cooless" and will not overreacted or stuff, Tatsuya Fujiwara was just, nothing but evil in the movie.
Naomi was also a major role in the movie, but again, the movie changed a bit of her personality from the manga, she was so straightforward and aggressive,and directly told Light that she suspected him as Kira,instead of calm and quiet in the manga.
misa only appeared in a few scenes,and was a really minor role,i think that was a waste and should have mentioned her more instead of Shiori. *
Okay,so Ryuk,god of death, was CG figure, id to admit that i LMAO when i saw him, he was not scary at all. L in the movie was totally adorable, he got most of the L-style moves right, i think Ken'ichi Matsuyama was perfect for the role of L. I want to scream when i saw him! so cute! So this movie ended when L and Light met,personally i think the ending was quite good,L holding the same brand of chips light used to hide the portable TV,that scene wasn't in the manga and was the only scene i like.
Overall,this was not really an exciting movie DN fans would have expected,but oh wells,i hope the next two movies will do better than this.
L is much better but they could have taken more from him, explore his personality and show us what he's real capable of.
Dialogues can't be compared to manga/anime, where they are much more elaborated. The way L comes up with his conclusions made me laugh.
This seems to be like a summary of the real story; not finished of course but still; There are many relevant parts cutted off, which is a shame :/ This is a lazy work only for those who have seen some of the real thing, don't see this if you don't know what death note is.
3/10 for the story (not) related 6/10 for the characters 7/10 for being a fan..LOL
Do yourself a favour and read the manga or if you are just to lazy for that then watch the anime.
I went ahead and took a look at the manga after I watched the film. Given the choice, stick to the manga.
One of the most disappointing things about the film is that there is little or no room for any sympathy for the main character, Light. I was hoping that there would be some moral ambivalence, that he might question what he's doing and the methods he's using. Nope. He's evil, right from 10 minutes into the film. This makes him a much less interesting character.
Overall, skip this film unless you just have to see the live-actor version of the manga.
Normally, as everyone, I would start with some positive aspects to falsely show some objective points of view and try to convince everyone that there could possibly be worse movies on this planet; but I shall promise, that is impossible. There are a lot movies, sequels, remakes, etc. of certain topics which simply spit into the faces of fans like never seen before (Highlander: Source, Dragonball: Evolution, Street Fighter, Resident Evil: Afterlife, ...), but this here, is the hardest try ever seen to insult everyone who likes the original, Death Note.
Absolutely nothing what made the manga/anime one of the most awesome visual experiences possible was put into this movie. The monologues are simply removed, the actors themselves act as unaffected by emotions as in a comedy film (what removes atmosphere fully), the (even if it could be worse..) 3D-animated gods of death are an insult to everyones' eyes and omnipotently do not fulfill the main intention of Takeshi Obata and their respective designs, ... Overall, there is not even one, slightly, well remade moment in all 3 movies; one which make your pupils extend up to infinity; rather you are asking yourself the entire time, why... Why???
Of course, since it is not a low-budget film, camera, light, etc. is far away from setting new standards in being bad, but this does not rescue anything in any way.
No, it is not the worst movie-; but yes, it is the ultimately worst fan-project of any topic ever made. Some things are never meant to be seen in live action, and some people have to learn that.
The story itself I won't bother to detail. There is a manga by the same name and I guess it's more complex than the movie. Bottom line: It's not an art film or anything, you would watch it only because there is nothing else better to do. But you won't feel regrets about watching it either.