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Death Note (Live Action)
Death Note
Live Action
Actors: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Kenichi Matsuyama, Takeshi Kaga
Director: Shusuke Kaneko
Genres: Indie & Art House, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2008     2hr 0min

*PHENOMENON*: — With over 25 million copies sold, the hit manga series has finally been adapted into two live-action feature films directed by Shusuke Kaneko, widely known for the popular, Gamera, monster film series. — DEAT...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Kenichi Matsuyama, Takeshi Kaga
Director: Shusuke Kaneko
Genres: Indie & Art House, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: VIZ Pictures, Inc.
Format: DVD - Anamorphic - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 09/16/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 2hr 0min
Screens: Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: Japanese, English
Subtitles: English

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Member Movie Reviews

Jill P. (zoby) from ABILENE, TX
Reviewed on 3/5/2009...
"Wow" is all I can say. This is one movie I'll hold onto for a while.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

4 ½ Stars: The Human Whose Name is written in this Notebook
Woopak | Where Dark Asian Knights Dwell | 09/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Death Note is based on the popular manga (Japanese Comic) and loosely based on the anime series of the same name. I've never read the comic but I saw the anime series on imported dvd, and I have to say the Live-action version, Death Note and Death Note the Last Name does the franchise justice. This series is one of the best I've seen from Japan in a while. I will review both films because one movie while phenomenal and definitely can stand on its own, the story is very much linked together.

Plot synopsis loosely derived from the DVD cover:
In "Death Note", Tatsuya Fujiwara plays the role of Light Yagami, a genius law student who picks up the "Death Note" and uses it to "cleanse" the world of evil. Upholding justice obsesses him and he envisions himself as a god in the crime-less utopia he plans to create. As criminals continue to die in unexplainable ways, people start saying that it must be the work of a "messiah", of whom they call Kira. L, played by Kenichi Matsuyama, works for the International Criminal Police Organisation (ICPO) and is deployed to solve the Kira mystery.

In "Death Note 2: The Last Name", the story continues as Light devises a plan to be part of the Kira Task Force headed by L. While the two geniuses are busy dealing with each other, a second Death Note drops into Earth. Rem, a Shinigami (Death God), brings the second notebook and Misa Amane (Erika Toda), a pop star and Kira worshipper, comes into possession of it. Becoming a Kira herself, she accepts the offer to have the 'Eyes of the Death' which will enable her to know the name of any person without being told.
As Misa and Light work together to get rid of L, a new character, Kiyomi Takada (Nana Katase), comes into the picture as the third Kira. With the disclosure of the new rules of the Death Note, the mystery becomes more complex, with a satisfying storyline and a completely unpredictable finale.
That's just scratching the surface, as Light continues to experiment with the capabilities of the book, as well as to internalize all the rules to call upon some serious manipulation of the rules to work to his advantage. Power corrupts absolutely--What would a human being do with the power of life and death?

Man has no right to play GOD.
This film reflects why imperfect human beings should not hold such power, men are fallible, vulnerable to desires and vanity. You see an almost accurate telling of one person's corruption and descent into madness, and how a genius can seem stupid. It also tries to reflect on the different views of a society and how a small "nudge" in the wrong (or right)direction by a government or individual can affect how things are seen by its people. The issue of capital punishment is also explored in both films. Some may say that the film also contains a social commentary.

The battle of wits between L and Light Yagami is definitely one to watch; as the two geniuses struggle to stay one step ahead of the other. It is rather curious that such a complex match-up of intelligence also proves that the two are actually two sides of the same coin but on opposing sides. L is pretty much a charming if eccentric presence as the sugar-loving detective. I didn't know that sugar does provide energy for the brain until I observed him gulp down significant amounts of candy and dessert. The thing that proves Light Yagami quite dangerous is the fact that he believes that he is doing the right thing and whatever steps he has taken may seem cruel, it is justified. When one believes his cause his just, one becomes more determined than the common opponent.

Death Note is smart storytelling, the plot twists and thrills are non-stop, each scene has a relevance to the next. The thrills/suspense are more CEREBRAL than visual with a very solid structure. The direction by Shusuke Kaneko effectively promotes intense energy and never lets up on the suspense, further accentuated by its twists and turns. Upon watching these two films, keep in mind that this is Fantasy-horror, the "Death Gods" have that manga/anime look, they may have that cartoonish look, but they look almost exactly like in the comic. Story-wise, it is pretty intense, it is genre-busting, battle of wits thriller that involves the supernatural world. (Although some anime films do surpass other films in terms of plot) I will stop here, since with this film, the less you know, the better it would be.

Death Note 1 & 2 really caught my attention. This is intelligent storytelling and for the most part, kept me on the edge of my seat. It made a good transition from comic to film. The two dvds are very much worth every penny!

These two films have been selected at the 2007 New York film festival.

Whose name would you write?,
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 05/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Death Note" was a much better flick than I was expecting. It was a huge hit in Japan, and because I had never read the original manga, I had avoided it thinking I wouldn't get the entire story. My loss, as it turns out.

The cat-and-mouse detective game mixed with the fantasy elements of the gods of death and their magical books makes for an interesting story. The two main characters, "L" and Light, are an intense duo, and like the best of this genre of film it is hard to decide who to root for. Light (Tatsuya Fujiwara, "Battle Royale"), known by the general public as the hero/murderer "Killer", is the holder of the Death Note, and has the power to kill anyone on Earth just by writing their name. A hardcore and brilliant student of criminal justice, he uses his power to erase the vermin of the world, serial killers, child rapists and gangsters. For the most part, his actions are praised, but he is still a murderer in the eyes of the law, and needs to be brought down. On his side is the Ryuuk, a Japanese god of death who gave Light the Death Note in order to keep himself entertained. Hunting him down in "L" (Ken'ichi Matsuyama, "Linda,Linda, Linda"), a young, oddball genius with a penchant for sweets who keeps his name hidden in order to protect himself from the powers of the Death Note. L hunts Light, and Light hunts L, and it is never clear who is the person a step ahead, and who is the fly falling into the web.

Director Shusuke Kaneko, who cut his teeth on Godzilla, Gamera and Ultraman flicks, managed to keep the story close enough to the manga to please the fans while making it complete enough that newcomers don't feel that they are only getting a part of the picture. The CG animated Ryuuk stands out at first, but soon becomes a natural part of the storyline, and Kaneko's familiarity with the special effects learned from the monster films did him good service. All of the actors do a great job, particularly Fujiwara and Matsuyama as L and Light, who carry the movie on the strength of their performances.

"Death Note" was a great enough film that it had me running to pick up the sequel, which actually makes a single film "Kill Bill"-style, as well as checking out the manga and the spin-off flick "L:Change the World". All of them are high quality, and all of them are recommended."
A. Steckel | Washington, DC, USA | 05/21/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I just watched this in the theater as part of its (very) limited May '08 US theatrical release, and it was simply magnificent! There were a few slightly quirky or off-beat directorial choices, and somewhat rudimentary special effects; but overall, I found it exceptionally entertaining.

The premise is very clever, and the one-upsmanship of the plot twists are simply brilliant. Of course, I think the real appeal of a story like this is that there are actually TWO protagonists in fierce conflict with one other - a rare and difficult literary feat. On the side of the law, we have a neutral (perhaps even slightly evil) hero, known only as "L." Opposite L, we have "Kira," a chaotic anti-hero with a deeply twisted sense of justice. It's that highly satisfying kind of narrative that invites you to root for either or both side at the same time, depending on the color of your soul.

The roller coaster ride that unfolds - both in the movie itself and the depths of your own conscience - is a thrill ride not to be missed."