Death Note

Death Note ★½

The worst kind of adaptation and a strong reinforcement of why these anime adaptations have failed to recapture precisely what makes them so compelling in the first place. While it isn't quite as disrespectful or terrible as either The Last Airbender or Dragon Ball Z: Evolution films in due part to some self-aware performances - most notably Willian Dafoe as the cackling demonic Ryuk and Laiketh Stanfield as the over-the-top and cartoonish L - as well as some shimmers of a perhaps stronger film in it's opening sequence and glimpses of black comedy as well as the neo-noir cinematography.

But all of that is upset terribly by everything the film gets so profoundly wrong. For one, it takes the unfortunate liberty of distilling it's source material's intense roulette of cat-and-mouse in favor of a more streamlined and watered-down thriller full of the usual cliches and tropes while never bothering to take it's concept anywhere interesting. That Wingard introduces a much uneeded and poorly executed romantic sub-plot into the fold only drags the film down even more, and reduces the agency and complexities of it's lead character in the process. The script itself is full of so much cringeworthy dialogue and particularly goofy moments that it ruins the momentum - the classroom scene is instantly iconic. It's all down to Adam Wingard who proves a keen eye for detail and visual prowess, but not quite for ensuring the substance is actually as compelling or interesting as it should be.

There is also the fact that since it has been reduced to less than two hours, the biggest issue is how the film feels the need to rush through any sense of characterization or development in order to reach it's bittersweet conclusion - which in all fairness hints at something that the preceding moments of this film so sorely lacked.

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