The live-action American adaptation of the popular manga and anime Death Note premiered to Netflix on August 25, and the Adam Wingard-directed movie has proved somewhat controversial: the movie received mixed to negative responses from fans and critics, earning a 42% "rotten" on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
The dark teen-drama has been consistently roasted by fans on social media since its release, with some acknowledging the project as a botched adaptation while others were less reserved, saying the re-imagining had as much substance as a dirtied, empty plate. Wingard, who says he pitched Death Note as "at least a two-film series, maybe three," recently teased a Death Note 2 on Twitter, but with the initial outing proving a disappointment for most fans, it remains to be seen if the live-action take has a future as a franchise.
"That romance was forced in the most unnatural way," writes Reddit user Gamerbrozer on the relationship between Light (Nat Wolff) and Mia (Margaret Qualley). "It's not looking good." User jamii992 pokes fun at the coupling, joking Light has only ever stared at Mia "longingly from across the school yard," while tnastylax says "I think it would have been better to just not even have a romance" in the movie.
132ikl points to the characterization of L (Lakeith Stanfield) as a major problem, writing that the obsessive FBI detective is "completely irrational" in the movie, while Perfect600 says L "does not act like that at all. They completely changed the character for no reason. It goes against the themes in the show." L as seen in the movie is "stupid regardless of context or source material," writes going_greener, whose criticisms say the supposed "greatest detective in the world" is "a bumbling cry baby" who botches his criminal investigation.
Leading man Nat Wolff's "over the top" overreaction during a classroom panic scene is compared to a Nicolas Cage performance by NoahIscariot, while the portrayal of the demonic Ryuku (Willem Dafoe /Jason Liles) is criticized as being untrue to the source material. "This movie is a completely different telling of Death Note," counters snowracoon, adding, "Ryuk's character in the anime shouldn't influence his character in the film."
"If the characters share little to no resemblance with their literary counterparts, how are fans of the series suppose to enjoy them?" asks Whodafookcares, who does care. "It's a completely different character in disguise as the one we love. Light felt the same way." User whichrbandit says the best part of the anime — the mind games between Light and L — was left out: "They're both super f—king smart, which leads to them constantly trying to outsmart each other. This just wasn't a theme in the movie and it really suffers from it," they write.
Finally, a user with a funny but bathroom-related and unprintable username says the movie is "not even close to what Death Note is supposed to be."
Most fans seem to be largely disappointed over the Netflix original movie, and are mostly in agreement that Death Note suffers from shoddy characterization, poor acting, a forced romantic angle, and — worst of all — committing the carnal sin of standing as a poor translation of the anime and manga to live-action.
Death Note is now streaming exclusively on Netflix.
What if you had the power to decide who lives and who dies? We suggest you obey the rules. Based on the famous Japanese manga written by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, Death Note follows a high school student who comes across a supernatural notebook, realizing it holds within it a great power; if the owner inscribes someone's name into it while picturing their face, he or she will die. Intoxicated with his new godlike abilities, the young man begins to kill those he deems unworthy of life.