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Death Note 3: L, Change the World
Death Note 3 L Change the World
Actors: Ken'ichi Matsuyama, Sota Aoyama, Shunji Fujimura, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Mayuko Fukuda
Director: Hideo Nakata
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2009     2hr 9min

Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 08/25/2009 Run time: 129 minutes Rating: Nr

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Ken'ichi Matsuyama, Sota Aoyama, Shunji Fujimura, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Mayuko Fukuda
Director: Hideo Nakata
Creators: Hironao Ryoki, Katsu Kamikura, Nobuhiro Iizuka, Hirotoshi Kobayashi, Kiyomi Fujii, Takeshi Obata, Tsugumi ‘ba
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: VIZ Pictures, Inc.
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen,Widescreen - Dubbed
DVD Release Date: 08/18/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/2009
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 2hr 9min
Screens: Color,Full Screen,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 12
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Japanese, English

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Movie Reviews

Lacks The Raw Thrills of the First Two Death Note Films; L I
Woopak | Where Dark Asian Knights Dwell | 06/24/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)

"L: CHANGE THE WORLD is the spin-off of the highly successful DEATH NOTE and DEATH NOTE: The Last Name. (Marketers would call it Death Note 3) The two films based on the Japanese comic book (also adapted into an anime series) were box-office hits all over Asia, so obviously, Japanese filmmakers, taking a page from Hollywood's book intends to capitalize on its fame. However, the film seems more of an ode to the series and is aimed generally to diehard fans. Those unfamiliar with the two live action films may be alienated so I suggest you watch those first before viewing this film.

The tale occurs in the final 23 days L (Kenichi Matsuyama) has left in the world. A killer virus had killed the occupants of a small village in Thailand. A former colleague named "F" discovers the secrets of the virus and sends a young boy somehow immune to the fatal disease to L's doorstep. A few days later, 12-year old Maki ( Mayuko Fukuda) also shows up with a different strain of the virus, described as a combination of Ebola and Influenza. Apparently, her father Nikaido (Shingo Tsurumi) had created the virus and a subversive group called "Blue Ship" is after it. Leader Dr. Kujo (Youki Kudoh) intends to use it to change the world by ridding it of all the useless people who inhabit it--useless people are those who abuse our natural resources; so you can guess exactly just how many people they intend to eliminate.

The film cleverly takes place during the last 23 days of L's existence. Changing the world by killing "useless" people? The first two films focused on the scum of the Earth, and the theme may be somewhat similar to the "Death Note" franchise in its own way. While "Death Note" dealt with the supernatural and mystical world of "Death Gods", this time around, the "death god" is man-made. "L: Change the World" isn't really a bad film but the absence of a real effective villain such as Light Yagami, the film fails to impress. You may say that the villains in this film are pretty routine and the direction by Hideo Nakata while very competent, has so little to work with. "Death Note 1 and 2" were full of cerebral thrills and they kept me in the edge of my seat. The mind games between Light and L were the two films' showstopper, and without an effective manga to back this film up, the antagonists were left unexplored and their goals a little too predictable.

L is the same sugar-loving genius, punk rock refugee with bad posture; quirky and full of eccentric charisma. All these seem a little wasted when the genius detective is set against a rather very underwhelming antagonist. Sadly, his displays of outsmarting and staying one step ahead of Dr. Kujo and Matoba neither immerses or impressed me. The main reason why the two Death Note films were so successful is because they were full of surprises and at times quite difficult to predict what may happen next. Every good hero needs a good villain or his exact opposite. The film's simple exposition makes the film a lot less thrilling and suspenseful but it does eliminate the complexities of the wordy dialogue that some viewers saw that it hampered "Death Note" a little. (not for me though)

Kenichi Matsuyama's portrayal of L is endearing and charming, and the character does get a lot of character development in place of displays of his super-intellect and cunning brain. The Death Note series focused more on mind games and a somewhat convoluted plotline, this time around, the film focuses more on L's personality. He develops a warm connection with the young boy (later named "Near") who is also a mathematical genius. You see more as to how L spends his last days, and it was quite entertaining to see him reject the temptation of the "notebook of death" by burning it. His involvement and compassion for Maki is quite satisfying as he tries his best to comfort her and shows that such an eccentric individual is capable of emotion. L's "Crepe and Ice Cream mobile" put a smile on my face as I am sure fans will find this very amusing and cute (?). L also tries his hand at being an action hero but all we really see him do is run, climb and straighten his back.

L isn't as compelling or interesting a figure without a mystical situation with surprising twists or a nemesis such as Light Yagami; you may say they are two sides of the same coin. A hero is only made by the villain he faces? If the producers manage to create a formidable villain worthy of L's supposed magnificent intelligence, a new franchise may work. The film just isn't as intense as its two predecessors but at least I found it fun to watch. The film is a little slower-paced than I expected and suspense is only found on occasion and when they are, it may get a bit redundant. The film just doesn't possess the darkness inherent in the "Death Note" live action films, but for die-hard fans of the series, this film is definitely still worth a look. Others may feel little lost and maybe a little bored without knowledge of this character. This film wasn't on par with "Death Note" but at least it wasn't as bad as I feared.

Recommended timidly to fans of Death Note and a good rental for everyone else [3 Stars]

Note: Death Note and Death Note: the Last Name both come highly recommended.

"
Sure L can "change the world", but can he "save" it?
Mister Myst | Corona, California | 08/20/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I have a story:

Once upon a time, J.R.R. Tolkien was writing a sequel to the Hobbit. It had a lot of passages where the Hobbits just hung out in the Shire, smoking pipeweed, eating mushrooms, and what-not. He showed these early chapters to his friends. One of them, C.S. Lewis, decided to be frank. He told Tolkien that Hobbits were only entertaining if they were doing unhobbit-like things; things like, going on adventures...

What does this have to do with L and "Death Note"? Well, the makers of this movie decided to do the same thing here: have L do things you wouldn't expect L to do.

Fans of "Death Note" will know that, when he fights Light, he has all these computers, high-tech gadgets, and people who work under him (the NPA, Watari, Raye & Naomi, Aiber & Wede, etc.). Light just has the Death Note, his wits, and whatever items are at his disposal. Arguably the coolest thing about Light is how he is able to improvise his way out of almost any situation.

Well, this movie basically puts L in Light's position. The film pits him against a terrorist group; but he can't use any of his gadgets, assistants, or financial resources. All he has are his wits and whatever he can improvise. They go a little further to put him in Light's shoes by having Ryuk be his Shinigami companion for a VERY brief period of time (it's not NEARLY as cool as I'm making it sound; It's a cameo more than anything else). The terrorist group, meanwhile, has access to all of L's resources, including his media connections...essentially turning our oddball hero into a fugitive. In a way, this puts L in Mello's shoes as well.

Long story short, this movie turns L into something of an action hero. It gets weirder though. They actually have him (gasp) making real friends.

So now I've answered the first question: "What is it?"

That just leaves us with the next question.

"Is it good?"

Well...that's not so easy to say.

Before I get into the good and bad, let me mention that you need to have either seen the other two films or read the spoilers to understand this one.

The Good:

For one, I think the concept I mentioned above is pretty cool. A big problem is they could have had L break character by putting him in a different genre, but they didn't. For that alone, I'm quite impressed.

L acts more like the original manga/anime version than he did in the previous films. I don't know if it was because there was a different director or if the actor just got used to the role by this point. He was "okay" in the other films; just not great. Here, he's the L we all know and love.

Some of the new characters are pretty good. There's a doctor that L meets in the second half that I liked a lot. Not only is he the best of the new characters, but I think he would have fit in well in the manga. He was just that good.

The Bad:

While the concept is cool, the execution just doesn't live up to it. It seems like they just rushed this movie through production and haphazardly threw everything together.

Despite being in a more "Light-ish" role, L is never backed into a corner the way Light was. I never felt any of that "how-is-he-gonna-get-out-of-this-one" anticipation that I felt with the manga.

A major character is introduced half-way through the movie. He's an FBI agent. Apparently, he knows all about Watari, but it never says how. For a while, they don't address why he`s even in Japan in the first place. He just pops out of nowhere like your standard Deus Ex Machinma. I'm guessing they had originally intended for the movie to be longer, but then they cut out about half of this guy's scenes. They leave just enough of him to confuse you.

The death scenes (yes, the terrorists DO kill people) are clearly MEANT to be scary, but they really just come across as cheesy.

Also, considering that the bad guys are supposed to function as an evil version of L, they sure don't leave the impression that L himself does. L is eccentric. These guys are just...campy. Oh. Did I mention that the main bad buy is a known terrorist, but that he doesn't even use an alias or a disguise? Either he's a moron or Japanese secruity is just that incompetent.

Bonus features are pretty standard. The DVD contains the English dub, the original Japanese audio, the Japanese trailers, the English trailer, and your typical "behind-the-scenes" promotional piece.

We also get an audio commentary. Is it the director? Nope. Is it the folks at VIZ who did the dubbing? Wrong again. This audio commentary is done by two fans: "Death Nerd" and "Patrick". These two guys kick back, spout out trivia about the franchise and actors, and make jokes. Overall, it was fun, but they got off track a little too much. At one point, they spend some time talking about the kinkier aspects of Japanese culture...that's just not something I'm comfortable with. Patick. Death Nerd. You guys did a good job and I hope you'll do more commentaries in the future. Next time, however, try to keep it "approved for all audiences".

Overall, not as good as the manga, but definitely better than the other two movies (which, aside from the first movie's EXCELLENT subway scene and the CGI Ryuk, I pretty much hated).

3 Stars for the movie, plus a 4th star thrown in for the (mostly) entertaining commentary."
A kindler, gentler L
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 08/18/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)

"The original Death Note (Live Action) and Death Note II: The Last Name are two of the finest anime-to-live action adaptations I have seen. They were massive hits in Japan, and have gained a solid following in the West as well.

One of the driving forces behind the popularity was Matsuyama Kenichi (The Taste of Tea) portrayal as the enigmatic L, a genius detective who stays hidden from the world and operates from behind a computer screen. Matsuyama was a relatively unknown actor at the time, but managed to create a compelling character that was even more captivating than as originally imaged in the comic book series.

Just like with Hannibal Lector from The Silence of the Lambs, audiences demanded more L, something complicated by the fact that the character of L dies at the end of "Death Note: The Last Name." However, a death scene has never stopped a studio looking to cash in on a character's popularity!

Like many people, I was really looking forward to "L: Change the World." Not only would I get to see Matsuyama assume his most famous role again, but master horror director Nakata Hideo (Ring, Dark Water) was at the helm, and it seemed destined to be an instant hit. Unfortunately, 1+1 does not always equal 2, and "L: Change the World" is definitely the lesser entry in the Death Note trilogy.

Nakata solved the problem of L's death by setting the adventure in the twenty-three days between when L wrote his own name in Misa's Death Note, and when he was show dying peacefully eating a candy bar. The set-up begins when a young boy shows up, claiming to be the only survivor of a deadly bio-weapon outbreak in Thailand. The outbreak appears to be an act of terrorism by an eco-group who wants to wipe out a third of the human population in order to make the Earth livable again, without so many humans draining its resources. L swings into action, taking on the young boy and another young girl, Maki, on a quest to create an antidote to the deadly virus and save the world from the eco-terrorist's vile plan.

The plot, on the whole, is somewhat by-the-numbers, and pairing L up with a pair of kids was not the best decision. Nakata has said that he wanted to show L's human side, his weaknesses and emotions, but these things only serve to make L less interesting. The character works as a super-human oddity, so massive in brain power he has difficulty associating with other people. He shouldn't be paired with a cute young girl with a can-do personality and a charming smile. He shouldn't be wasting his abilities battling villains who are so campy and stupid.

Which is not to say that "L: Change the World" is horrible. Matsuyama's characterization of L is still fantastic to watch, and the film does have some great moments. L's Crepe Truck is a lot of fun, as is watching him try to calm down a girl who just watched her father get killed by offering her a candy, and not understanding why that doesn't work. The juxtaposition with L and Maki does work, but at times it comes off as too cutesy.

I think what is really missing from "L: Change the World" is a credible villain. In both Death Notes, L had to match wits with someone almost his equal, the owner of the Death Note Light Yagami. However, the leader of the eco-terrorist gang does not nearly operate on L's level, and the outcome is never in doubt.

As a fan of the Death Note films, I was glad to watch this final entry. It is a lesser film, but worth watching for Matsuyama's portrayal of L. Seeing both earlier films is definitely a pre-requisite, as certain parts of "L: Change the World" won't make sense without understanding the previous installments."
Good movie, even without Light and the Death Note involved
Texas Rebel | Waxahachie,TX USA | 08/26/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I knew this movie was a "spin off"...I knew this movie would not be about Light or the Death Note (even though both are mentioned a few times...so with that said, I really enjoyed this movie. I loved seeing a more "personal" side of L. Its a part of his character that HAD to be there, but was never shown in the Death Note films. I recommend this movie to anyone that really enjoyed the Death Note movies as much as I did, just don't watch L Change The World with any expectations, and allow yourselves to enjoy it for what it is."