Death Note is a grim yet almost slapstick final destination type murder porn with a unique twist. Light Turner a vindictive yet seemingly well intentioned high school student comes across the death note, a black notepad that possesses the ability to kill anyone whose name is written in it. Tonally jarring, wicked visual effects, and hit or miss dialogue somehow left me oddly charmed by the live action adaption of the original anime
It’s not difficult to assume my viewing of Death Note the anime affected my reception of Death Note the Netflix movie. However, whether or not my bias skewed my thoughts of movie negatively or positively is still up to debate. Perhaps by the end of writing this review I will have figured that out. Regardless, the film from a technical standpoint is well produced. The actors for the most part do the best they can with the dialogue which ranges from authentic feeling to downright unrealistic. Willem Dafoe’s ominous presence felt underutilized as simply a mouth for exposition. The movie has a pretty obvious thematic backdrop of contrasting black & white that runs with the plot itself, that being the moral grey area of killing criminals outside the law. Camera angles are shot at intentionally contradictory angles and even the character outfits seem to be at odds with each other. I mentioned final destination in my thesis because the film elicits very much the same murder porn type visceral death sequences throughout the movie, however I was pleasantly surprised at the tonal shift the film takes roughly 1/3 of the way through. Vindication against a murdered parent and bullies of the world transcends to an all-out god complex that while isn’t entirely original, felt true to the source material, and the better direction for the movie to take. Conflict arises organically and doesn’t feel crammed into the overarching plot. The climax of the film and ambiguous ending for some may feel unsatisfying but to me was a deserved finish. Paced like a greyhound given Xanax plot set pieces change in seriousness dramatically quick to the point of being jarring. In one sequence the importance of our characters situation moves from disastrous to nonchalant and back to disastrous in minutes. Regardless of the films credited successes I found myself drawn out of it, checking my watch expecting a conclusion that was still 45 minutes away. Although lacking any forthright emotion and struggling to find a coherent pace I found myself consistently entertained and weirdly charmed, laughing somewhat maniacally at the absurdity of it. I don’t know what that says about me or this film but I appreciated the ride despite its glaring flaws.