Movie Review: Death Note (Netflix)

And so the curse continues.

The Death Note movie by Netflix is a deplorable take on the source material of the same name. It fails to compare to the brilliance that the anime and the manga had. It was devoid of the thrills, the revelations, and the the psychological aspect that made Death Note a cult classic.

I went into this with a mindset that since its setting is in the United States, it will be different, but the characters are too much like the originals that it just felt like they moved to the USA. The movie is also a very condensed version of the original story where two individuals fight with their minds on whose belief of justice is the ideal form.

The story begins with Light Turner finding a notebook that fell from the sky. He then gets in trouble and is sent to detention. It didn’t take long for the mysterious notebook’s owner to scare the girl out of Light. He then sees someone being bullied and the demonic owner tells him to kill the bully with the notebook. He then decides to go for it and is shocked at the power of the Death Note.

It didn’t take him long to write other names into the notebook and get the girl that he likes in on it. They started out small then they went international and then took on the name of “Kira” as an alias. It didn’t take long for the brilliant investigator who goes by the alias “L” to start following their trail.

The two of them then battle it out, but it ultimately becomes awkward to watch to a point that it just becomes a hilarious mess. When I watched the anime, I was constantly on the edge of my seat as the story unravels in a very complicated and magically enticing way. But now I’m just facepalming at how stupid the plot is moving right in front of me. Even their interactions felt bland and logically out of place.

The best thing that this live action could’ve done to save themselves from the expectations and ire of the Death Note fans is that they should’ve just created entirely new characters who just happen to find a Death Note. The Death Note is one of the core aspects of the anime and manga, but it is not the only one and it is transferable.

I can’t fathom why they just went with Light when he looks and behaves very differently compared to the source material. The same could be said for L, but only in the looks department, especially with the thug-like mask. I also found it very stupid when Light just goes ahead and tells the girl about his dangerous power that it made me think that this guy doesn’t have an ounce of common sense in him. Who goes around and waves their gun that can shoot anyone, anywhere in the world, just to get some attention while risking being reported? But luckily for him she didn’t, because she too got drunk with power.

Ryuk, on the other hand, was the real star of the show. He nailed the death god persona to a tee. He was the only true light of the film despite being in the dark all the time. He made everyone around him inferior as he was the most prominent figure the camera could ever show in the adaptation. In a sense, Willem Dafoe’s portrayal of Ryuk felt like it was even better than the original version. If studios in the US could do what they did with Ryuk, then at least live action demons would look awesome in future series.

Mia was also a surprise as she stole the show in the later half. Her descent into madness through her boyfriend’s notebook was something that came out of left field and made Light’s transformation into a psychopath pale in comparison. She creates a better tale of destruction than Light or L ever did in this movie.

The movie felt awkward and seemed like it had fumbled a few too many times than it should have but it still had some form of entertainment to it, albeit just one that I would never want to watch again. Heck, even the songs playing in certain scenes felt so wrong, it was comical. Where I thought I would be watching a battle between a boy with a god complex and an eccentric private eye, I came away with something I did not expect to laugh at in more than a few instances.


To wash away this disappointing adaptation I am gonna go ahead and watch the Japanese Live Action adaptation since they were far more entertaining than this bad take. I have also written an anime review for those who are interested in seeing the true form of Death Note. At least in the anime we get the potato chip scene that they omitted.

The Verdict