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  Publicity Stills of "Death Note 2: The Last Name"
Courtesy of Encore Films

Genre: Fantasy Thriller
Director: Shusuke Kaneko
Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Kenichi Matsuyama, Erika Toda, Nana Katase
RunTime: 2 hrs 20 mins
Released By: GV & Encore Films
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://wwws.warnerbros.co.jp/deathnote/

Opening Day: 28 December 2006


The sequel to Death Note

Movie Review:

Everybody loves a good sequel – especially when the original movie boasts of an ending which left its viewers for more.

It has been two months since we saw the movie adaptation of this Japan’s bestselling manga series. After earning big bucks in other Asian countries like Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the second and concluding chapter of this Japanese blockbuster graces our shores.

And like its predecessor, this live-action feature film contains a few pleasant surprises.

Picking up where the first movie left off, we are once again introduced to a world where finishing off your enemies has never been easier. For fans of the manga and movie, you’d know about how this seemingly ordinary notebook has the power to kill those whose names are written in it. A battle of wits between two young men ensues in this movie, where the truth of the killer must ultimately be revealed.

Throw in a few supporting characters with sneaky ulterior motives, an emotional Death God, and some other red herrings – and you’d have a plot which messes the audience’s minds with guessing games.

Considering that this feature has to summarize the fourth to twelfth chapters of the manga series, it is a commendable job done by writers Tsugumi Oba and Tetsuya Oishi. However, we also predict that some purists of the original comics won’t be too pleased about the changes made to this movie version.

While the first movie impressed with its adequate pacing and interesting characterization, the 140-minute runtime of this sequel had us tapping our feet impatiently during certain slower moments.

Sure, we understand the need to develop the individual characters and justify their motives – but their every action and reason for committing those terrible crimes are so predictable, they actually drag down the pace of the otherwise charming movie.

Some sequences of the movie may appear preachy to the more impatient viewers, exploring notions of moral justice and righteousness, sacrificing for the greater good, and the idea of giving everything else up for a certain feeling called love. These messages are relayed adequately, and provide food for thought during some of the more unnecessary conversational scenes.

Tatsuya Fujiwara plays the twisted Light with just the right amount of that sinister look in his eyes. You don’t know whether or not to support his somewhat selfish cause. Erika Toda is cute and bubbly as the lovesick Misa; and may either turn you on or irritate you to bits, depending on your gender. The two animated Death Gods Ryuuk and Rem are injected with some humaneness which made us empathize with those misunderstood creatures.

And of course, stealing the show with ease is Kenichi Matsuyama’s L, whose every little move gets our utmost attention. Be it his shifty eyes, his thumb-sucking gesture, or his fabulous food variation of lollipops, puddings and pastry snacks, we find ourselves attracted to his eccentric character. That is why we cannot wait to see him back on the big screen in 2008 in a spin-off movie chronicling his pre-Death Note days.

L’s name is definitely not one we want in the notebook of death.

Movie Rating:

(This movie sequel may be lengthy, but it is still a satisfying conclusion to the interesting live-action manga adaptation)

Review by John Li



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