Was there ever a moment when you wished someone would just crawl up and die?
Like say, the bully in Junior High School? The sycophant Coworker who takes credit for your hard work while throwing you under the bus? A few annoying trolls be it online sites or social media? Thugs? Hoodrats? A cheating spouse? Some douche who cut you off the freeway?
Or how about those racist Alt-Reich protesters in Virginia or even a certain orange faced blowhard politician? Yeah, I heard em all quite frankly.
Based on the hit Manga, Anime series and even a live action adaptation from Japan, Death Note dares to ask that very controversial question-what would you do or rather, who would you kill if you had the power to do so without any fear of repercussions or guilt?
This suspense filled supernatural thriller has now made its way to America via Netflix streaming service. But wait…! I am not referring to the Japanese imports but the American remake itself and if ” foreign exchange flicks” like Kite or Ghost in the Shell gives you the cause to pause, allow me to offer my fair and balanced opinion on yet another highly anticipated offering from Netflix.
Y’know, the House that gave such hits as Orange is the new Black, House of Cards, Daredevil, Ozarks, Defenders and Iron Fist (?)
Is Netflix’s latest offering, “Dead on Arrival”? Before I get into it, there are minor spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t read the Manga, watched the 2006 Anime or just don’t give a fuck about spoilers, I would advise you to skip a few paragraphs. Because we at the Supernaughts, care. Hyuk, hyuk, hyuk!
Following an uninspired opening, the film beings with our protagonist, Light Turner, your usually introverted teenager, stumbling upon a mysterious book dropped from the sky.
This isn’t your usual composition notebook as Light quickly finds out thanks to an encounter with Ryuk, a rogue Death God from some Shimigami neitherworld- instructs the angst ridden Turner on how to use the Death Note.
“The human whose name is written in this note…shall die”.
Light being frustrated with the judicial system after his mother was killed by an acquitted murderer goes on a vigilante crusade under the name “Kira” Which is the Japanese word for “Killer”. But what starts off as a motive to right the wrongs, turn into one major fiasco after another when you include websites from individuals demanding justice, tension between Light and his love interest-now accomplice and of course, there’s an ongoing police investigation to track down Kira, spearheaded by his dear ol dad James Turner with the help of an eccentric profiler called “L”!
Will Light ever see the day of light, with the power of death in his hands?
Here’s my overall summation of the Netflix Original Movie adaptation.
- Willem Dafoe delivers a remarkable voiceover as Ryuk. The director originally had David Bowie in mind for the role of the Death God, but unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.
- There’s a nice callback to Pinhead of Hellraiser courtesy of Ryuk’s introduction and even a brief scene from the classic supernatural film, Phantasm. It’s obvious that Director Adam Wingard is a fan of ol skool horror.
- The execution scenes are comparable to some Hodge podge footage from those Final Destination Some original, while most are “Been there, done that”.
- There is some good cinematography to be had here, i.e. what happens to the agents when they stick their noses too deep within the Kira investigation. Also of “note” the Cat and Mouse pursuit, reminiscent of a Michael Mann film.
- To me, the most impressive scenes are the media broadcasts around the world of killings en masse, with the letters “Kira” written on the walls, buildings, etc. Then there is that exchange between the two major characters about the benefits and consequences of vigilantism.
- At first, I thought the storyline would take a sudden tail-dive the minute Light confides with his classmate turned Girlfriend Mia but things heat up when we see the couple conspiring together and as of this writing, I know exactly how the scenario will play out in the end!
- The film’s pacing feels rushed at times and this may be due to cramming as much as possible from the source material.
I admire how the adaptation has taken the form of a more mature rating unlike the Anime but does this make the American version a good one? Well, it’s a good effort and not because of the rating or even the reasons listed above. It’s the surprise twists and turns during the remaining 30 minutes that gives this adaptation, the bump it desperately needs! One too many revelations are akin to those SAW films and the choice of songs for the film’s soundtrack is really shitty! That being said, I wouldn’t rate this over the Anime or what I have seen from the Japanese Live Action projects, but it was serviceable.