American Death Note Live Action Movie 2017 Review

Death Note is one of my favorite anime of all time. Next to Naruto and Dragon Ball Z. I dont really watch horror or mystery movies and shows but Death Note was one of those stories that were so well written that it is hard not to like it. 

The Death Note manga, anime and Japanese live action movie was brilliant. However, the American live action version of this movie was not to the level of quality. I didnt finish watching the movie on Netflix but I didnt have to. As an anime fan, I knew from the first 30 minutes of the movie that it was horrible. From the start I was wondering why was it so difficult to get something correctly that already had a blueprint. 

It was like a new student in art class trying to trace a picture with a transparent piece of paper and getting all wrong. 

There was already a live action of Death Note, so why did the American version sucked so much. 

The characters were wrong and didn’t feel like the original characters. So right now lets go over the characters and changes that were done to this movie. The story and yes we will talk about the racial factor of this movie that everyone keeps complaining about. 

Light Yagami

The bad

First of all, I dont have a problem with the changing of the names for the character. I think that if the story is going to take place in a different country then change the names to adjust. Light Turner. Not bad. The problem is that the Light in this movie…didnt feel like Light. 

In the original Death Note, Light Yagami was a well respected student. He had everything going for him. He was really intelligent and was very careful and smart about how he went about using the Death Note. Light was very paranoid too and so cautious. 

Then we have the American version of Death Note and all the intelligence is stripped from Light. He is no longer the strategic character we knew. He is not paranoid, in fact, within the first 15 minutes of the movie, he is already sharing what he knows about the Death Note with his new girlfriend. Light was an introvert but in the American version he came across as awkward rather than introverted. He was too emotional while in the original he always kept his emotion sin check. Light never wanted anyone to know that he had the Death Note. He did everything he could so that no one would find the note. This really bothered me because it ruins the whole nature of the story. 

Light also wanted to be a detective like his father. In this movie he was just an anxious teenager. He was just a high school kid who got his hands on a death note and started killing criminals. In the original Light wanted to be a god among humans. In this movie, Light just wanted to kill criminals after what happened to his mother. 

Oh yeah, the acting was completely horrible when Light first saw Ryuk (While in detention, in the classroom) (face palm). He over reacted. The original Light would never jerk and flail around like that or hide under his desk. In the anime, when Light first saw Ryuk, he fell off his seat but he had the balls to look up and stare at the Shinigami. “I am not surprise, in fact, I have been waiting for you,” he said after a few minutes of meeting Ryuk. 

The good

The one thing that I did like about the Light Yagami (Light Turner) in this movie is that he had a better reason to do what he did. In this movie Light’s mother was killed by some criminal and that motivated Light in to the field of criminal justice like his father. In the Japanese version, Light was just bored and happened to stumble upon the Death Note. In the anime Light wanted to be a god among mortals. He had a bigger ego. More of a selfish reason to kill. 


The bad

Ok so lets get something straight here. Sure, L was played by an African America. Keep in mind that this is an American version of Death Note. I can understand why Light would be Caucasian and L would be African american. The director wanted Americans to be able to relate to the characters. Fair enough. We are more likely to watch a movie if the character look similar to us, right. Gotcha. 

But the problem is not the ethnicity. The problem is that the characters changed and it ruined the nature of the story. Light Yagami in this version was dumbed down and over reactive and too trustful. One thing that they got wrong immediately was that L went out in public. L Never Goes Out In Public! NEVER!. 

L never showed his face to the public. He knows that it is dangerous. The idea of L was there. White shirt, with acid washed jeans and barefooted. Eating candy while using his computer on the floor. They got the idea but the soul of the character was gone. There was a chase scene with L chasing Light. This never happens and it ruins the nature of the story. 

What makes Death Note really exciting is the suspense and the secrecy. L trying to figure out who the real Kira is. This all happens behind the curtains, not out in public. This is a mental battle. 

The horror element was removed from this story, there was not enough suspense and it felt more of an action movie. All they needed was explosions. 

So the fact that L was African was not the problem, in fact I think the actor was great. But the director and writers of this movie dumb down the characters and made them more emotional. 

Death Note is a mental battle between two geniuses. The entire time they are trying to hide their identities while manipulating other people and things around them. 

Oh yeah, did I mentioned that L was too emotional in this movie. 


If there was one thing I liked about this movie and that other people loved about this movie, is that Ryuk looks more bad-ass than the original. Ryuk was more intense and his dialog was more aggressive. However I didnt like the fact that Ryuk was taking sides. In the original Ryuk never took sides and he watched both Light and L out of entertainment(Because Shinigamis are fucking bored). 

That is all I will say about this movie. 

How can something that already had a blueprint be a failure. This movie could have been so much better but the director and writer dumbed it down. It was a failure 

I give this movie 3/10 rating 

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