Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Double Feature: Death Note & Death Note II: The Last Name

Today's double feature is brought to us from Japan ~ Death Note is now my all-time favorite Japanese film! So, without further ado, I shall review both films together. . .

Japanese Titles: Desu noto & Desu noto: The Last Name
Language - Japanese with English Subtitles or Dubbed in English

Genre - Crime Drama/Fantasy/Mystery
Year Released - Both films were released in Japan in 2006
Running Time - Death Note is 126 minutes ~ Death Note 2 is 141 minutes
Both films were directed by Shusuke Kaneko (who also directed the Gamera films)
Both films were written by Tsugumi Oba and Takeshi Obata (both of whom also wrote the Manga comics as well as the Anime series) Tetsuya Oishi provided the Screenplay for both films
Cast [for both films] Includes:
Tatsuya Fujiwara as Light Yagami (he was also in Battle Royale)
Kenichi Matsuyama as "L"
Erika Toda as Misa Amane (she is also going to be in the upcoming Goemon)
Shido Nakamura provided the voice of the Shinigami, Ryuuk, both films and Shinnosuke Ikehat provided the voice of the 2nd Shinigami, Rem, in the 2nd film

Rating for Death Note: 5+ Skulls
Rating for Death Note II: The Last Name - 5 Skulls


Plot Summary for Death Note:
When he discovers a mystical notebook that grants him the power to kill anyone he wants by merely writing their name, a brilliant student named Light develops a god complex and attempts to create utopia. Now, it's up to ingenious detective "L" to stop the supernatural vigilante.

Plot Summary for Death Note II - The Last Name:
The battle of wits between enigmatic detective "L" and teenage vigilante Light escalates as Light infiltrates L's inner circle of investigators to divert suspicion away from himself. Meanwhile, popular television host Misa finds a second Death Note notebook and uses it to become Light's deadly disciple.

Here is the trailer for Death Note:



Here is the trailer for Death Note 2:



Review for both films:
First off, I just have to say that I have never read the Manga that these movies are based on, nor have I seen any of the Anime episodes. . .

Death Note starts out with a book that falls from the sky [in the rain, mind you, while remaining perfectly dry] Meanwhile, the police are chasing a guy who ends up grabbing a hostage, when all of a sudden he just drops dead from a heart attack. We then see someone writing in a book, as criminals all over the world start dropping like flies.

We then meet Light Yagami, a law student who has just passed his Bar Exam. Light is the one who found the book that fell from the sky and he has hacked into the police's criminal database looking for criminals that have gone unpunished for their crimes. . .

Being that the sudden "death by heart attacks" of criminals is a world-wide phenomenon, the ICPO [International Criminal Police Organization] soon become involved - they ask for the help of the extremely super-smart detective "L" to help with the case. On top of this, Light's father is put in charge of the investigation!

I forgot to mention that along with a Death Note notebook comes a Shinigami [a "death god"] The Shinigami survive by having their lifespan increased by the extra years that are left by those who are killed via a Death Note notebook. Also, the Shinigami can only be seen by those who have touched the Death Note notebook to which they belong.
In Light's case, his Shinigami is named Ryuuk and he has a fondness for apples! :-)

Above is the Shinigami, Ryuuk, from the anime series

Below is Ryuuk from the movies:


As you can see, Ryuuk's translation from Anime to Live Action is Perfect!

Notice the new Shinigami, Rem, in the above poster

All I want to say about the 2nd film is that it picks up immediately where the 1st film leaves off.
As stated in the plot summary, the character of Misa comes across a 2nd Death Note notebook [hence another Shinigami] and goes one step further than Light. Where Light needs to know someone's true name, Misa has decided to 'take the eyes of a Shinigami' [this cost her half of her remaining years] This means that she can just 'see' your name, which makes things much more interesting.

A couple of things about the films themselves:

While I enjoyed the 1st film the most, the 2nd one is almost just as good. What truly makes both of these films is the writing - they are superbly well written and well thought out! On top of that, the acting is top notch as well, making everything completely believable.

While Tatsuya Fujiwara [Light] was amazing, I really dug Kenichi Matsuyama's ["L"] performance - he completely embodied the character [he gave just as good of a performance as Ledger's Joker in my opinion!] Plus, pitting these two character's minds against one another was like a chess match - I was completely riveted to the screen whenever these two characters were on it together.

There is a spin-off sequel to these films entitled L: Change the World - it has already been released in Japan, and I believe that we [in the States] are getting it this Summer. This spin-off is written by the same writers and directed by Hideo Nakata [the director of Ringu & Dark Water] Kenichi Matsuyama also returns as "L"
I cannot give away the plot of this spin-off without giving away part of the ending of the 2nd film - sorry - though I am definitely looking forward to it - especially since it focuses on "L".

On the flip side of all of this, there is an American Re-Make planned for Death Note [what a shock!] to most likely be released in 2010. I can guarantee you, right now, that this re-make will not even be half as good as the original, so I implore you to check these films out, before America tarnishes them!

Jason

6 comments:

A.P. Simon said...

I have yet to receive my copy of DEATH NOTE II: THE LAST NAME via Netflix, but I can comment that the first DEATH NOTE was outstanding. Similar t you, I had no foreknowledge of the series, and it was a pleasant surprise to find exactly how good the movie adaptation was. I'm glad you liked it, mate, and great review! Now I'm looking forward to PART II even more!

Cheers,
Andy

thebonebreaker said...

Andrew,

I guess that would have been me holding the copy of part 2 ;-)
[my 15 year old son watched the 1st one with me and wanted to watch part 2 as well, so I kept it a day longer than usual...]
It has since been returned to Netflix. . .

Glad to hear that you agree that the 1st one was outstanding!

J

Soiled Sinema said...

I'd recommend the anime over this garbage any day.
The translation for L is just unfilmable, I promise you that.

fxguy said...

I love the animé show, but had no idea they made two live-action movies out of it!

Wow.

thebonebreaker said...

SS,

Really?!? I'm surprised to hear that.

I will definitely be checking out the anime [and the manga] as well - in fact, I am hoping to come across a box set of everything included - manga, anime series, and the two live-action films. . .

J

thebonebreaker said...

Bill,

Glad to hear that you enjoyed the anime series - I am looking forward to checking it out!

Definitely check out the live-action films!!

J