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Death Note (2006)

The human whose name is written in this note shall die.

Starring:

Asaka Seto

Erika Toda

Ken'ichi Matsuyama

Michiko Godai

Shigeki Hosokawa

Shunji Fujimura

Sota Aoyama

Takeshi Kaga

Tatsuya Fujiwara

Yuu Kashii

Directed by:

Shûsuke Kaneko

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 126 minutes

UK Certificate: 12A

On DVD

Country: Japan

Death Note is the latest obscure Japanese weirdery that I’ve been somewhat forced to watch but surprisingly enjoyed.

Based on a much darker and more intricate manga and anime series, Shûsuke Kaneko’s Death Note follows super smart Light Yamagi (Fujiwara) who stumbles across a magic book that allows its owner to kill anyone he wants merely by writing the person’s name in it. At first, Light uses it for good by only killing criminals and overly caricatured bad guys but when L (Matsuyama), a secretive, maverick young sleuth with an obsession with sugar, goes after him with the full force of the law, Light begins to use it much more selfishly to save his own skin.

Like with a lot of Japanese culture, it has to be approached in the right frame of mind. It’s easy to mock the absurdly placed, poorly drawn anime god of death that’s thrown into the thick of a live action movie, the asexual relationships being played out by characters in Japanese schoolgirl outfits, the adult Chief of Police following every order of a very strange teenager, the amazing array of amusingly faked heart attacks and the way that a shed load of people randomly dying doesn’t really make the people of Japan bat an eyelid – it’s a case of why rather than how for them.

Instead look at the positives of an engaging movie based around an interesting concept. It’s actually a fairly mildly acted movie for these parts as despite the character of Light actually being a psychopathic monster, he’s acted well enough to come across as a cocky teen to root for. L is played with enough disturbing menace to make you wonder about his origins and root of him too. The plot uses the rules of the book of death to create a fairly complex story that offers a couple of surprises and will keep you pretty hooked throughout as it doesn’t pull any punches. Although it slightly uncomfortably straddles the line between an episode of Goosebumps and an adult movie, Death Note is still quite impressive.

It's Got: Interesting plot, decent acting, one actor now with Type 2 diabetes

It Needs: Decide whether to be for tweenagers or adults, to be watched in the right frame of mind, the cast to work on their heart attack acting

DVD Extras 2 disc Special Edition alongside the sequel inludes - 24 page book, trailer, making of Death Note, Production Diary Video, Death Note Press Conference, Original Japanese Trailers, Image Gallery DVD Extras Rating: 7/10

Alternatives:

Chronicle, Memento, The Ring

Summary

Get past the weird stuff and you’ve got an interesting thriller from Japan.

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