Movie Review: Death Note

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International

For the 10th anniversary of the Udine Far East Film Festival in Italy which ended on April 26th a special screening of the two part live action movie based on the popular 12 volume manga by Obata Takeshi Death Note was screened: Death Note (which covers episodes1-9) and Death Note the Last Name (following episode 9 through 25), both made in 2006 and directed by KANEKO Shusuke. As a special treat the prequel, L Change the WorLd came straight from Japan to the festival, released just this year. The manga and the live action movie is the story of a mysterious notebook that the brilliant student Yagami Light (Tatsuya Fujiwara) discovers. It is called Death Note and is full of rules about killing people such as visualizing the victims, choosing a specific death in which case the person will die within 40 seconds or if no death is visualized then the person will die of a heart attack. Light discovers that if he writes someone’s name in it, they will die so he decides to rid the world of the bad guys and evil. The real owner of the notebook is a CGI character named Ryuk, a Shinagami death god who soon becomes Light's friend. Light chooses business executives as his first victims who clutch their throats and keel over. But justice must be served and Light has to be stopped. Light's father is a detective who is aided by a guy that inspired many Halloween costumes this year, L. (played by Ken-ichi Matsuyama). I love L. His black hair is always in his face, and dark eyeliner accentuates his eyes. He wears a long sleeved white t-shirt and almost never looks directly at anyone. He eats deserts with lots of sugar, he is hunch backed, and picks up everything by their corners as if they are contaminated objects. L is a cross between Darryl Hannah's Pris (Bladerunner), and the white face of Michael Myers (Halloween). But he is the good guy, and Light is the bad guy. The funny thing is both Light and L want Justice though Light wants to become the god of a world free of evil. Light and L become archenemies in a cat and mouth game. The deaths inspire fear in the public who has dubbed Light Kira, which means Killer in Japanese. The struggle between good and evil is taken one step further. There is a traditional reliance on the criminal police to find the serial killer by men in black, but since Light uses his powers to stop the bad guys the story has a philosophical angle. How evil is evil?
Death Note is out on DVD but will also soon make its way to theaters in the USA this month. The entire suite of Death Note from sequel to prequel is captivating and reveals the exciting youth culture of today's Japan.

For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan Udine,Italy
More Information:
Death Note
Japan - 2006