Reviews

Death Note

3

Based on a Japanese manga, Death Note kicks off like Ringu, with law student L. (Ken’ichi Matsuyama) discovering a notebook that knocks off anyone whose name he writes in its pages. Honourably, he decides to exterminate Japan’s criminals, but pretty soon the cops, led by his police chief dad, catch onto his antics. They hire the mysterious Light (Tatsuya Fujiwara), a sullen teen with a deductive mind to rival Sherlock Holmes’, to catch him. Then the Angel of Death – a grinning CG Joker in rock band duds – pops up to give L. advice about the art of killing. There’s more, but you probably wouldn’t believe it… Endlessly inventive, knowingly silly and pirouetting on a mouth-watering cliffhanger (the sequel’s already out in Nippon), this is a bona fide Japanese original.

 

Film Details

User Reviews

    • MattBelfield

      Feb 11th 2009, 1:19

      5

      Death Note, directed by Shūsuke Kaneko, is a series of film (with its second half being a direct continuation of the story rather than a stand-alone sequel) based on the Death Note manga and anime series by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. It should be noted that although the film is on the whole a faithful replicate of the manga and anime some elements have been removed or altered in the film in order to make the transition to screen easier. The film, as with the anime and manga, follows Light Yagami (Tatsuya Fujiwara) ,a first year university law student who is increasingly frustrated by his inability of the justice system to successful prosecute and punish criminals. Light, after encountering one of Japanese unpunished criminals, stumbles upon a mysterious notebook entitled the “death note”. The death note contains instructions that when followed grants the owner the ability to end a person’s life all by writing a name in this particular book. The previous owner of the book, a bored Shinigami (death god) named Ryuk (Shido Nakamura ) becomes intrigued with Lights action and in order to stem his own boredom decides to observe Light to see how he decides to employ the death note. As Light decides to use the power of the death note to “punish” criminals in highly publicised cases and he attracts the attention of the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO) As ICPO begin undertaking investigations into the mysterious deaths of the criminals they employ a Japanese sleuth only know as “L” (Ken'ichi Matsuyama) to hunt down the Light, now being publicly revered and publicly reviled under the name “Kira” Death Note illustrations the famous dictum “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” are prevalent throughout the film. After receiving the absolute power of life and death we witness Light’s progression into the temptation. Light begins his crusade with the noble cause of ridding the world of its worst criminals. However soon after discovering that not everyone shares his notion of a ideal world and that he has a rival in the form of L he gives into temptation and uses the death note in order to prove that he can outwit L which often means writing the names of people who are involved in the search for Kira in the Death note.. Ryuk’s fondness for apples is reminiscent of the apple from the tree in the Garden of Eden. However it’s important to note that it is Light offering the apple to the god of death as such can we believe that Light is in fact the serpent, also known as Lucifer. Death Note plays out in a deeper way than simply a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse which has been done over in many different ways in cinema. Death Note succeeds in the manipulation of our moralistic compass and our deepest ideologies and explores the notion that the concept of good and evil is a social construct which has different meaning to different individuals. The most fundamental example of this in the film is by questioning whether the murder of paedophiles, child murders and killers of entire families really an evil act. Light is indulging in this game of cat-and-mouse with an idea of creating a new world “L” however indulges in the game for his own gratification and self indulgence. Even though both characters are represented as opposites of one another they share the trait of being narcissistic in the games they play with each other, reducing the lives of those around them to that of pawns on a chess board. Death Note is undeniable in terms of an original narrative which is outlandish enough to charm those not a particularly fond of anime/manga or foreign language pictures but has enough conventions of traditional Japanese horror films to attract such a niche fan bases. The film is a refreshing multi-genre concept with unpredictable plot twists which in more one instant come as shocking. While the beginning may be somewhat slow to build momentum and at times may seem to be needlessly complex it is the thrill of watching the games between Light and “L” that adds the excitement of the film. Part one ends with a graciously surprising and a suitable cliff-hanger which results in a brief face-to-face altercation which acts as a taste of what is yet to come.

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    • captainchod

      Nov 10th 2009, 14:13

      4

      Indeed highly original, and extremely enjoyable. What starts off as a tale of a good person ridding the world of bad people soon turns into something where the morality of his actions are far darker.

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    • blueicedragon

      Oct 30th 2010, 19:44

      4

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