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  Publicity Stills of "L Change The World"
(Courtesy from Encore Films)

In Japanese with English and Chinese Subtitles
Director: Hideo Nakata
Cast: Kenichi Matsuyama (Death Note; Death Note 2 the Last name); Yuki Kudo (SAYURI, Rush Hour); Mayuko Fukuda (Sinking of Japan); Shunji Fujimura
Runtime: -
Released By: Encore Films & Golden Village
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.encorefilms.com/L.html

Opening Day: 21 February 2008


After solving the Kira case, another serious case confronts L and he has only 23 days left to solve it.

A person who obtained the most horrible weapon, "Death God" says the same thing as Kira ... "I am going to change the world". A boy and a girl hold the keys to solving the case and L faces a crisis of global magnitude to protect the kids. He is without his most trusted partner, Watari, and cannot rely on just his superb intellect to solve the case.

What will happen to L? What will change? The 23 days are packed with turns of events even L himself cannot predict. The final countdown to the shocking events are about to begin!

Movie Review:

I shall say this up front: Do NOT bolt out of the hall when the lights come on, as there's a small, simple but effective coda at the end of the credits that will probably provide the answer you're looking for, and that's perhaps as close an answer you will get.

With the phenomenal success of the Death Note movies in 2006, it's almost a natural reaction to see if another movie could be done to capitalize on the formula's momentum. A direct sequel is ruled out, because of the events that unfurled at the closure of Death Note: The Last Name. But since the character of L (played by heartthrob Kenichi Matsuyama) has proven compelling enough to elicit wistful sighs from fandom, the next best alternative filmmakers can provide, is to create a spin off, just like how Hollywood's Magneto and Wolverine from the X-Men franchise have projects in the works.

But contrary to early beliefs that this is going to be a prequel, L: Change the World pretty much happens in that extremely short timeline hanging on L's existence like an albatross around his neck. We're offered very little glimpses of what happened before his obsessed hunt for Kira, and I suspect should subsequent movies be made, it could go into that direction. However it took some clever stylistic editing to slowly cue you in to the right timeline, but in having to replay some events, it is likely to have ruined a key surprise that comes the way of Death Note: The Last Name, if you haven't seen the movie.

What is sorely missed is the multiple battle of wits against formidable characters with moral ambiguity thrown in for good effect, and the numerous twists and turns that tickle your braincells. L: Change the World dwells surprisingly little on the cerebral, and becomes a generic action adventure. And it borrows its basic premise from Mission: Impossible 2 with an existence of a manufactured, lethal virus and its attempts to be weaponized by eco-extremists in a bid to cleanse the Earth from mankind, but forgets a key point alluded to in that same movie - that a hero's worth shall arise from the creation of worthy, quality villains.

With lacklustre, forgettable baddies who can waltz only to supporting "goon" type roles in any B-grade flick, it makes the Death Note movies seem like masterpieces in a league of their own. The saving grace in this flick, just as the title aptly puts it, and the reason why this movie existed, is on the character of L. Kenichi Matsuyama reprises this popular character with aplomb, but while he retains the childlike innocence which hides a shred sleuth beneath, we see a little more of the recluse coming out of his shell, which seems to be both by choice, and by circumstance.

For starters, L now doesn't enjoy counsel of his good old friend Watari (Shunji Fujimura), and gets stuck playing surrogate bodyguard to two children, a Thai boy (Narushi Fukuda) who's a mathematical genius, and Maki (Mayuko Fukuda), the catalyst igniting the sparks of conflict that requires resolution from L. Naturally his man-boy mannerisms are appealing instincts that connect with the children, and watching how he deals with situations in the outside world, getting into the rough and tumble and the thick of the action, is a definite refreshing departure from the L we know and are used to. But as I mentioned, the brains that he's most famous for, take a ceremonial backseat, and if a situation warrants it, he does exhibit some stamina in long distance running (for someone whose exercise includes hopping on seats) and in taking villains down.

Do you need to watch the Death Note movies in order to understand L: Change the World? The short answer is no. However, you'll probably miss the little nuances that comes with that experience, and likely to lose some connection to the slight development with the L character as well.

Movie Rating:

(Unfortunately L forgoes the battle of wits and spins off into generic action territory)

Review by Stefan Shih


. Death Note 2: The Last Name (2007)

. Death Note (2006)

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