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DEATH NOTE (Japanese)


  Publicity Stills of "Death Note"
Courtesy of Encore Films

Genre: Horror/Thriller
Director: Shusuke Kaneko
Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Kenichi Matsuyama, Asaka Seto, Yu Kashii, Shigeki Hosokawa, Erika Toda
RunTime: 2 hrs
Released By: GV & Encore Films
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://wwws.warnerbros.co.jp/deathnote/


Opening Day: 19 October 2006


Shinigami, the God of Death, dropped a notebook in the human world where a weary genius picked it up. “The human whose name is written in this note shall die”, it said. This was the notebook of death that determined people’s death.

Light Yagami, an extremely bright elite university student was the one to possess this ultimate tool that should remain only in the hands of God. Light decides to create an ideal world and begins to hold the scales to judge the criminals in his discretion.

Meanwhile, ICPO (International Criminal Police Organization) has placed a mysterious detective called “L” in the Japanese police force to investigate the series of criminal dying suddenly. “L”, having solved many unresolved cases in the world, begins to tighten the investigative screws over these cases. But Light cleverly manipulates the notebook of death to toss and shake off the investigation. The future of mankind is at the mercy of this crucial and fierce battle of the two brains.

Movie Review:

During my first exposure to Death Note manga, it just feels like two gifted chess players playing a dangerous game of life and death within the supernatural constraints set in the Death Note World.

A bored Death God, Ryuk, drops a magical notebook into this world. This notebook can be used to kill just by writing a person name in it. It falls into the hands of a smart college kid, Light. Dismayed with the fact that so many criminals escape unpunished from their crimes, Light takes on the role of judge and executioner to punish the wicked.

His actions soon catch the attention of the masses and soon became worshiped with the nickname, Kira, the God of Death. While there are supporters of his actions, there are also a fair number of those who felt that killing is a crime even if it was killing criminals. The international cops want to capture Kira but were at wits’ end until the mysterious L appeared to assist them.

The Death Note manga is a page turner with plenty of unexpected twists and surprises that catches enough manga readers’ attention to establish its fandom. Given its epic theatrical proportion, it’s hardly surprising that it has been adapted into a movie which made its way to Singapore.

For the fans, the question on their minds would be if this movie is a successful adaptation of one of their favorite manga mini series. There have been a lot of comic book adaptation movies out in recent years and while there are some terrible ones, there are also a few gems that generate a new generation of fans. The crux of a successful comic book movie adaptation is not how faithful that it follows the source material (as it’s practically impossible to condense volumes into a two hour feature) but whether the movies can captures the essence of the characters and events that transpire in the book.

Let’s just say that Death Note the movie is a fairly successful adaptation of the source material.

Most of the early plot elements were followed to the T with very few modifications and restructuring. One notable modification the movie presented was the different abilities of Death Note but it took away the limitations of the Death Note. While it is adequate information for viewers who are new to Death Note, it took out the fun for the fans by not going in depth in that area.

As the manga run 12 volumes and the movie can only cover so much within the time span, this movie wisely covers only the first quarter of the finite series. But if you have been reading the manga, you would be aware that the first quarter didn’t contain any cinematic finale. In order to rectify that, it strays from the source material and presented the biggest twist to both fans and new viewers.

This movie will appeal more to the people who are new to the Death Note concept than Death Note fans. As I read the first volume of Death Note prior to watching the movie, the presentation of the events in the movie felt like a slow crawl. The transition of those tense moments that I read in the manga didn’t translate well onto the film. The adaptation of the first three volumes means plenty of ground to cover and it might have work better in a TV series where story telling can happen in a more leisure pace.

After going through some nitpicking on how the movie didn’t fulfill the potential it could have, it was still an enjoyable film to catch. The dilemma of one playing God is ever presence in this movie and it does raise an interesting question such as does power corrupt even the noblest intention? The cat and mouse chase between Light and L here still thrills as much the manga and of course Ryuk, the Death God, is even more adorable on film.

Do stay back till the end of credits for a special presentation by Encore Films and Golden Village. If you enjoyed the movie, I am sure you wouldn’t mind staying for a bit longer to see what our distributors have in store for you.

Movie Rating:

(The darkest and most thrilling Japanese Manga Adapation to date)

Review by Richard Lim Jr

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