Sunday, 13 March 2011

Film Review: DEATH NOTE (2006)

Director: Shusuke Kaneko
Running time: 126 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12A

Genre: Crime/Drama/Thriller
UK Release date: 10th November 2007 (Leeds International Film Festival)

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 13th March 2011.


On seeing a trailer for this one I was intrigued and so I recorded the film. It’s in Japanese with subtitles although I’m lead to believe there may be a dubbed version out there somewhere. It is an adaptation of a very popular Manga which I found pretty enjoyable, if a little too long. More of my thoughts later, here’s a brief summary first (summary haters and those that don’t wish to know anything about the plot please find out who’s behind these mysterious murders while I write the next paragraph).

Criminals are mysteriously dying of heart attacks. All over the world murderers, rapists, thieves and criminals of all types are randomly dying in unusual circumstances. In Japan the police have dubbed the man responsible ‘Kira’ and he is revered by many of the public. There are those, however, who would prefer the legal process took its course and have dubbed ‘Kira’ a serial killer. The young man behind all this is called Light Yagami, the son of the policeman in charge of the case, Souichiro Yagami. He is a law student and, having become disillusioned with the law, found a notebook one dark night. He also met one of the gods of death, Ryuuk, who was to stay with him as long as he had the book. The instructions for using the book were simple, just write the name of the person you want dead while thinking of their image and they will die of a heart attack within forty seconds if some other means of death is not specified. The police seem powerless to stop him until a mysterious stranger who calls himself ‘L’ offers to help… I’ll leave it there so as not to enrage the gods of spoilers.

This is a very well made film with very much the feel of a Manga. I always find films from different cultures interesting and this is no exception. At times some of the CGI (used for Ryuuk) looks a little ropy, but apart from that I found it very well made. All the lead actors did a very good job; Tatsuya Fujiwara as Light Yagami, Kenichi Matsuyama as ‘L’, Asaka Seto as Naomi Misora, Shigeki Hosokawa as FBI Agent Ray, Takeshi Kaga as Souichiro Yagami, Yu Kashii as Shiori Kashino and finally, Shidô Nakamura as the voice of Ryuuk.

At the end of the day I found this film very enjoyable, but a little over-long. The story does move along a quite a pace, but I found that at just over two hours I had really had enough (maybe that’s just the fact I had to read subtitles for all that time). The end of the movie leaves it on a real cliff-hanger and so I’m waiting to the sequel to appear in the listings again (I missed it this time around). Over all, a pretty enjoyable film with some very clever plot-twists and a real cliff-hanger ending… Recommended.

My score: 7.6/10

(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page:
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