Death Note (2017) Review

Teagan Roeder and Orson Codd discuss their opinions on the recently released Netflix film adaptation of the classic anime.


Image via Netflix

TEAGAN ROEDER: Netflix’s Death Note is one of those adaptations that does nearly everything to make fans of the source material angry. I am a fan of the original anime for its clever main character and collection of nerve racking situations. This film’s version of the main character is a complete bastardization. It fails to understand why the original character was so compelling, and only takes bits and pieces from the original to make an outcast trope character.

The problem with the film as an adaptation is perfectly encapsulated by the different introductions of Ryuk, a God of Death. In the Anime version, Light Yagami is surprised but quickly regains his composure. In the film’s version, Light Turner screams like a goat and goes into the fetal position upon seeing Ryuk for the first time. The contrast is jarring. I do have to commend Willem Dafoe as Ryuk; he is the only part of the film that didn’t actively violate the source material. His character was nearly perfectly translated from the anime to the film. The rest of the film’s characters take bits and pieces to varying degrees from the source material, but none share the depth of character and connection I felt with the anime.

As far as production quality, I feel it was decent. Nothing spectacular, though I do have to question the overly grotesque deaths. I felt like I was watching Final Destination instead of Death Note. However, that prompts the question of if I ever felt like I was watching Death Note. The film is an awful adaptation of the anime, and is not worth watching for any fan of the show.


ORSON CODD: Being someone who hasn’t seen the original source material, I watched the Netflix version not knowing what to expect. After watching the film and talking to Teagan, he told me that what I had watched was nothing like the original.

Personally, the film didn’t bother me as much. It had some enjoyable material in it. For example, Willem Dafoe plays the being known has Ryuk. I think he did a fantastic job portraying the character. He brings a very creepy and edgy element to him. (It was his voice.)

The guy who plays Light Turner, Nat Wolff, was a bit cartoony and overdramatic for most of the film. Light is the character who gets the “Death Note” book. When he first gets it, he uses it to kill people who have wronged him. But after a while, he begins killing random people. One problem I had with it is that his intentions weren’t very clear. He was trying to create “world peace”, but by doing that he created chaos.

The editing also felt a bit sloppy at some points, especially in the second act. It felt like some of the scenes could have been placed anywhere and it wouldn’t have affected the plot. Plus, the runtime was SUPER long. There was a bunch of things that could have been cut out because they had very little relevance to the film itself.

Overall, the film was decent. That doesn’t mean it didn’t have its issues. I did a longer review on my YouTube channel called A Talk In Depth.