Tuesday 5 September 2017

Aaron's Spoiler-Free Review of "Death Note"

As a huge fan of the original Manga series, I was very intrigued by the concept of a western adaptation. Little did I know at the time though, that it was going to be a feature film, and not a series. This then made me wonder, “Hmm, I’m not quite sure how they’re going to pull this one off!”

With that in mind, I thought I’d just go right on ahead and jump in with both feet without testing the proverbial waters. So, here goes!

Now, if you’re unfamiliar with the original series (based on the Manga novel of the same name), here's an outline. Death Note follows the teen life of our anti-hero, named Light, who comes across a book called the Death Note.

The book is bestowed upon him by the death god Ryuk, who explains to Light that if he pictures a person’s face whilst writing their name in the book, along with a cause of death, it will then happen 40 seconds later exactly as it is written.

Pretty cool, right?

So this story is pretty much as Japanese as it gets, drawing from tales of folklore and cultures dating way back to ancient times. So, how do the Americans pull this off? I’m glad you asked!

I saw a lot of reviews before and after viewing this film, and almost all of them were people saying “Ignore this and just stick with the original”. That's fine if you’re a purist I guess, and there is nothing wrong with that, but as a massive fan of the original myself, I implore you to ignore them instead.

No, it is not the original. No, they cannot fit a story that was divided over the best part of 40 episodes, and no, it’s nowhere near as complex and in depth as the original Manga/series. But you know what? It doesn’t have to be!

If you’re a fan of the original, then go in knowing that it’s not trying to be the original directly. It merely takes the original’s premise and beloved characters, and sticks them into a 100-minute movie of its own. If you haven’t seen the original, I highly recommend watching this first as a stepping-off point for two reasons: Firstly, you know what you’re getting yourself into if you’re sceptical about the premise of the original series. Secondly this film, though following the same sort of story and characters, has its own separate conclusions and so has no spoilers for the original series!

Personally, I think that this is either a deliberate move on the creator’s part to start a film series of his own, but as a passion project, I am left to assume that this was an artistic manoeuvre to introduce a new audience to a cult series which deserves a much bigger audience than it already has.

I really enjoyed this film and I think it’s a shame it got such a bad rap from the purists (or...dare I say...elitists? Some of them, maybe) who are hating on it for the sake of it. Was it without its flaws? Of course not! For instance, I felt that the western adaptation of the much beloved fan-favourite character L was executed quite poorly (and no, not because he’s black, before you start). Getting someone with zero likeness to him to try and act identically just leaves us with an awkward young man who comes across as trying too hard to be quirky. By contrast, the original L was just quirky by nature, which makes this newer version of him just seem pretentious and unlikable. That's a shame.

Willem Dafoe, however, absolutely nails it as Ryuk, a character who also echoes the original (especially visually) fantastically!

I can only recommend this film to the degree that it deserves, and that’s a bloody high one! Whether you’re a fan of the original or not, this is a standout film for me this year, which also comes with a powerful message about the dangers of playing Judge, Jury and Executioner. I mean, unless you’re rightly beloved E14 favourite, Mr Judge Dredd, then you just crack on, sir. We at E14 salute you!

Aaron's Spoiler-Free Rating: All in all, an absolute banger from me! – 7.5/10

Aaron James Waters is a best-selling Pulp Fiction writer who has written more books than he's actually read.

He's also the rotten apple of the group who thinks this whole Star Wars thing needs to hurry up and die already.

You can find Aaron's debut novel on Amazon!

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