This quote gets used a lot, especially in art;
“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
― Mark Twain, Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the North American Review
New entertainment pieces in the modern age seem to follow this trend. In just 2017 we have been privy to a live DeathNote adaptation, IT by Stephen King, Avengers, Justice League, (plus their origin stories on both big screen and television.) and Alien: Covenant. Even Powerpuff Girls have gotten in on it. Does this mean they are trash? No way! Most are taking the source material and either improving upon it or modernizing it while adding creative license aspects from the new production team.
DeathNote (2017) Netflix is a prime example of a much loved Manga, turned Anime, ending up a feature live action rendition.
How do you turn a 37 episode Anime (whether good or bad) into a two hour long movie without losing what makes it, well, DeathNote?
How do you make a highly-stylized Japanese product into an understandable for the general audience feature?
The answer to both is the same: reimagining the source and fit it to your target demographic. 15-35, white males in the United States. This demographic changes depending on where you are in the world.
As a fan of the Manga and Anime this may surprise you, I really enjoyed this movie.
I did find things that were different, not an all inclusive list:
Mia, Margaret Qualley, whom is using Light to get to the book replaces, Misa who is madly in love and devoted to Light.
L, Lakeith Stanfield, while retaining his never sated sweet tooth and master detective status, the live action character is more brooding and depressed.
Ryuk, Willam Defoe, what can you say? The man could be selling Girl Scout cookies on a beautiful, sunny day using his scary voice and you’d have nightmares later of Thin Mints eating your soul. As the apple eating, perpetual shadow wearing god of death… it’s chilling.
Light Turner, Nat Wolff, AKA Light Yagami Japanese: 夜神 月 ライト Hepburn: Yagami Raito in the Manga and Anime. Is supposed to be a genius who receives the Death Note and uses it for good by taking the name “Kira” Japanese slang for death. Instead he is an angsty teenager who uses it to impress Mia.
Over all I thought this movie was great as a stand alone or even as a franchise.
Did they change things? Yes, we will discuss this in a moment.
Are characters missing? Yes, Light’s mom and sister for one. Why? Creative license, I guess.
Is it rushed? Yes, 37 hours jammed into 2 hours of runtime. That’s like running a marathon at sprinting speed!
Could it have been better? Sure, anything could use some improvement looking back on it. The 80’s soft rock soundtrack, for example.
Okay, now back to the changes. Some people have screamed ‘whitewashing’ and I don’t agree with this. Are there white actors? Of course, it’s an American made film. They are trying to Americanize it. Remember the quote? The kaleidoscope? Many colors, etc… When the film takes place in a part in Japan, they use Japanese actors, when they are in Russia, they used Russian actors. Okay… Light and MIA are white actors, and L is now African American. So what? If anything this movie was Americanized. Just remember, your favorite Japanese entertainment most likely was redubbed by non-Japanese actors. Just sit back, enjoy your snacks and watch it for the fun of watching a really good movie!
Keep this in mind:
The original Manga and Anime creators were given a private showing and they all thought it was good and really liked it.
Enjoy the movie.