From the hit Japanese manga series comes an original Netflix movie, Death Note. Based on the series from Shonen Jump, this adaptation is produced by Masi Oka. Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata created a supernatural and psychological thriller that became a worldwide hit through the manga, anime and Japanese television show. It features Nat Wolff as Light Turner, LaKeith Stanfield as L, Margaret Qualley, Paul Nakauchi, Shea Whigham, and Willem Dafoe as the voice of Ryuk.
The film follows the story of Light Turner’s (Nat Wolff) ordinary life in high school; until one day, he found a book labeled ‘Death Note,’ which has the power to kill any chosen person when their name is written down in the book. Once Light discovers the book‘s supernatural power, he became fascinated with the idea of having a godlike power. Sharing this information with his love-interest, Mia (Margaret Qualley), both become intoxicated by the idea of controlling the existence of people’s lives. Light soon becomes known as Lord Kira throughout the world, through his use of the Death Note book. With his true identity being unknown to the world, he is now being pursued by his father, who is the police officer investigating this case, along with a mysterious detective named L.
This adaptation of the movie is a complete departure from its earlier Japanese counterpart. The movie focuses more on the Western culture rather than on the traditional Japanese culture as the original story did. We see the biggest change in the characterization of Light’s personality and in the personalities the other major characters. In general, you will not see the dynamic characteristics that you would normally see from the anime, mostly due to cultural differences. Mainly, the movie feels more like a teen drama movie, though it still focuses on the supernatural and psychological elements. As a result, while it may be a huge departure from its original source materials, it does keep the essences concepts that the series is known for, and it still respects the original source materials.
Nat Wolff’s performances as Light gives us a different version than his manga counterpart; from being more quirky and frail characteristic to be more relatable to Western culture. While his character may not be exactly the same as in the manga, you will still see the essence of the character displayed throughout the entire movie. Margaret Qualley Mia, has great chemistry with Nat’s character. They both seem to match one another as romantically, and it is evident that they go through the psychological battle together as they face the threat that follows them. The most interesting performances is from LaKeith Stanfield as L; his performance stays true to the nature of L, who is obsessed with uncovering the truth, and the interesting movement the character is known for (watch to find out what it is). Audiences will likely be pleased with LaKeith’s performances, and it may perhaps become one of his iconic roles.
The only character to retain his visual incarnation and identity would be from fan favorite Shinagami, Ryuk. The character utilizes set practical effects that was performed by Jason Liles for body movement of the character, and the voice is provided by the iconic actor, Willem Dafoe. Together, they created the perfect Shinigami, and they portray Ryuk effectively together. Audiences were fascinated by Ryuk’s body movements from Jason Liles, and they shivered through Ryuk’s dialogues, provided by Willem Dafoe. Together, they created the iconic Ryuk we’re familiar with, but with a new level of fear.
While the movie may have undergone major changes for the purposes of cultural differences, we still see the elements that made Death Note the iconic manga series we have liked. The movie can be enjoyed by viewers who aren’t familiar with the manga series. However, if you’re a fan of the series or are interested in knowing the series, you will enjoy the movie for the use of the Death Note that Ryuk has left for Light to use. Death Note will launch globally on Netflix on August 25th, and will be available theatrically at select theaters in NY and LA.
Here are some pictures from the premiere event along with the trailer.