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TV and Movies

Netflix's 'Death Note' not worthy of life

Commentary: If you're wondering how bad a Hollywood-produced, live-action version of a Japanese classic could be, here's your answer.


Nat Wolff stars as anti-hero Light Turner.


If you weren't a fan of the original "Death Note" anime or manga, then perhaps you may be forgiven for thinking Netflix's 2017 adaption is just plain meh.

After all, you'd think it can't be that hard to make a good movie about a mysterious book that has the ability to kill people when their names are written in it, but the Hollywood live adaptation unsurprisingly manages to do so.

The movie stars Nat Wolff as anti-hero Light Turner, who accidentally discovers the book and starts a killing spree of criminals and pedophiles, making him popular with the common folk who are sick of crime. Since it's still pretty much against the law to actually murder criminals, Lakeith Stanfield as the mysterious detective L steps in to try to solve the mystery.

However, unlike the careful psychological battle of wits in the original, the Netflix version dumbs it down to cheap, bloody, gruesome deaths and an insipid main character you can't be bothered with.

Netflix's Light is hardly the cool, calculated, brilliant anti-hero from the anime. Instead he's a bumbling hack who sells completed homework to dumb jocks and then decides to embark on a killing spree just so he can hit on a cheerleader, Mia Sutton (Margaret Qualley).


Margaret Qualley stars as Light Turner's cheerleader girlfriend Mia Sutton.

James Dittiger/Netflix

Light should work on learning the rules of the Death Note in order to beat L. Instead, Light stumbles along, giving the game away easily to the detective.

The movie eventually ends up turning into a senseless chase montage that requires a massive suspension of disbelief, with plot holes big enough for a cruise liner to sail through.

Perhaps I'm too harsh. It's hard to squeeze the original's more intriguing content into a 100-minute flick, but "Death Note" is hardly the movie that fans would want. Perhaps an original TV series would have been a more suitable adaption, and we know Netflix makes them oh so well.

If you're wanting the actual goodness of the Japanese original, the 37-episode anime series is streaming on the platform. You're better off binge-watching that.

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