2017
08.26

deathnotenatwolff

At last, after over a decade of production talks and Zac Efron scented rumors, we finally have our American Death Note movie. Precious years have been spent to calculate the absolute best way to adapt the series into a film, and all those mountains of research have resulted in a movie where the blind guy from The Fault in Our Stars screams like a little girl for twenty-five seconds. Bask in this new picture, now that the pathos of Death Note has been translated into over the top death scenes worthy of a Final Destination sequel. Where the once genius Light now reveals his Death Note to a girl he only casually knows all so he can get laid. And a climactic series of events that ends with a shop owner smacking L across the back of his head so he can save Kira from the blast of L’s space gun. All those billions of dollars of debt Netflix is currently in was money well spent for this masterpiece of cinema.

Leave it to brilliant director Adam Wingard, creator of such treasured films like that one Blair Witch sequel from last year that everybody forgot, to subvert and mix the familiar tropes we’ve grown tired in Death Note. No longer is Light a young prodigy who could have been destined for greatness, but now a lanky Elliot Rodger wannabe who has no idea how to hide a notebook from anybody. Misa has thrown away her idol trappings to become Mia, an assertive and manipulative young woman who inconsistently switches back to her source material’s personality at inopportune times. And notice how Mia is brunette and Light is blonde, suggesting that the genders and roles have been switched in the relationship between their original counterparts. Or possibly the make up artist fucked up. I dunno. What used to be an aspiring god and his psychotic follower have now become a gaggle of sexually-charged teenagers who use reddit. Truly Wingard’s penchant for modern culture has helped shape Death Note to match our current times. Perhaps in the potential sequel, we will witness Light using tumblr and doxxing tactics to find guilty names to kill.

But let’s not forget about the main villain of our story, Ryuk. Gone is the amoral, but not evil Death God who stayed in the sidelines and watched as Light made a mess out of his godhood. Now he steps forth and takes an active role, alluded to killing federal agents and police officers so the movie doesn’t end at forty or so minutes, until we find out at the last minute that Mia did it all for some reason. As Light’s intelligence has been hampered to reflect Wingard’s view of the modern twenty-one-year teenager, Ryuk and Mia are now our protagonist’s crutch. They are the cane that holds this story from tripping more than it already has. Now, Ryuk has all this cool powers, like the ability to destroy a ferris wheel simply through a wave of his arm. And for that, we must thank Willem Dafoe for what must have been a couple days of voice recording. Not since Marlon Brando’s iconic Superman speech that he refused to memorize and instead read off of a baby’s diaper have we heard such an impassioned performance from a class actor, one that utterly dwarfs his supporting cast and makes them look as qualified as Nickelodeon child stars.

That’s not to besmirch actors such as L’s though, for he makes a grand performance as he fumbles his way to Light during a chase scene almost reminiscent of great works such as Heavy Rain. Focus as L goes out of his way to attack random bystanders during his pursuit for Light, adding some much needed slapstick like shoving a man’s face into a bowl of soup so we as an audience can taste the chaos that is L Lawl—whatever his last name is in this movie. Have a feast for the ears as the movie’s soundtrack switches back and forth from Celine Dion songs to the soundtrack for a future Stranger Things season. Wingard has taken a boy’s adventure comic and turned it into cinema that must be viewed not twice, not thrice, but dozens of time to attain pure enjoyment. With this centerpiece, he has attained quality not seen since the likes of Neil Breen or Len Kabasinski. Make haste with your neighbor’s Netflix password and experience this film as early as you can.