IT – review

IT is a modern horror film adaptation based on a popular Stephen King novel, following a group of bullied school kids in the late 1980s who band together to defeat an evil shapeshifting being, the film stars Bill Skarsgard, Jaden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer and Wyatt Olaff.

Now I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen the original It, though I’m familiar with the general story and premise, it never really grabbed me even as a fairly avid horror film fan but the new film did grab my interest as I wanted to see the story in full and get a taste of the hype as it were. Stephen King is very hit and miss for me – and for quite a lot of people, with a lot of novels, TV shows and films, the majority of which not being too great but I had hope.

Anyway about the film, it capitalizes on the fairly recent 80s nostalgia trip that we seem to be having and that is mostly nailed in the characters clothing, lingo and the setting itself, the time period itself of the late 80s has a feel good association to it and the Goonies, E.T. vibe is unavoidable, watching a group of kids o on a summer adventure, uncovering something mysterious. That something in this case is Pennywise, a pretty creepy looking clown with supernatural powers, as you do, played really well by Bill Skarsgard, so much so that he’s pretty much unrecognizable and quite unsettling to watch for anyone under the age of say, 16 but generally Skarsgard has an interesting physicality and presence to the way he plays the role.

Skarsgard had a huge job to really pull the role off and he did, though the rest of the cast is actually quite good too, with some very enthusiastic and believable performances, mainly from Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) and Beverly (Sophia Lillis), with even some of the side characters getting interesting plot arcs to play off of, the characters interaction and chemistry is also quaint, again believable for a bunch of 12-14 year old kids trying to have fun in summer in the 80s. An interesting point to make about the film for me though is that it’s not scary, I mean not really, I say this as a seasoned horror film fan so I don’t really get scared by films apart from the rare exception but to its credit It, is still pretty damn creepy and unsettling, with a fair bit of disturbing, gross out imagery and things that pennywise does (I hope not too many kids watched the film!). But to be fair for the films target audience, I’m sure it’s a terrifying experience and if so, it succeeded in what it tried to do.

The plot is also a highlight, seemingly quite long, clocking in at a bit over 2 hours but it definitely flies by, without too much slowing down between important plot points while including some interesting side stories that take things a bit deeper than expected out of a supernatural horror film.

Ultimately It, is a pretty good horror film, a rare thing to say in 2017, with effective imagery and scares (not for me but still), strong performances and an engaging plot that has some good pacing to boot, there are surprisingly deep moments and elements to the story as well for the adults and plenty of horror for the kids, an entertaining and somewhat surprisingly disturbing romp.

7/10

. Strong perfromances from most of the cast, even side character actors

. Engaging plot with great pacing

. For horror die hards, some of the lore around Pennywise may seem stupid/nonsensical

Deadpool 2 – teaser

So we have our… first official teaser for Deadpool 2 after an initial teaser a little while ago, very much keeping in line with Deadpools irreverent, absurdist humour as the character takes on the persona of the late, seminal painter and TV host Bob Ross (who was also a ray of sunshine), the teaser is quite crude but very much in the line in the first film and the humour seems to also be in the same vein.

We do actually get a quick run through of some footage from the film as well near the end though, possibly teasing the first official trailer and in it we see Nega sonic teenage warhead, Deadpool de-costumed and angry as well as action sequences that don’t really make sense without any context to them. Anyway we also see a few returning characters from Deadpool – Dopinder and Deadpools best friend Weasel, as well as the assassin Domino, a prominent new character. We still haven’t really seen Josh Brolin as Cable just yet but we do see his robotic arm right at the end. The painting at the end which was teased to us a few weeks ago shows all of the films main side characters, so that should give people a good feeling for who’s in it.

Deadpool 2 is set for a 1st of June 2018 release date.

5 reasons why I think Justice League will be a hit

It’s time… well it’s almost time, time for DC to lay all their cards out and see what happens with Justice League, the film with an entire cinematic universe kinda riding on it, will it be a commercial hit? Will critics love it? I’m pretty curious to find out for myself but we’ll all find out in about a month but until then, here are some of my thoughts on the film and on why I think it’s going to be a hit. (P.S. I wrote this a little while before the social media embargo on the film was lifted recently, so I had no idea what general thoughts on the film were/nothing was out yet!).

The Wonder Woman effect

Make no mistake about it, Wonder Woman was a very, very important film for DC and could well have tanked the DCEU going forward if it flopped but it didn’t, it was a commercial hit and almost everybody loved it and here we are, a month away from Justice League. And with the positive sentiment from the film, I’m sure that a few fans are going into DCs next film with high hopes and anticipation, for a number of reasons I’m sure, because they love DC characters, maybe because of Whedon working on the film and for sure also because the last film in the DCEU was quite good.

It may feel like quite a minor point, sentiment but it sure goes a long way, Marvel has worked off of this with the MCU for 9 years and even with so-so films in the series coming out, none of them have been slated or destroyed by critics because in part none of the films are that bad but you have to admit that audience sentiment plays a part and people will forgive a lackluster Marvel film over a lackluster DC film 9 times out of 10. Because of positive sentiment and familiarity, if you have one one bad experience at your favourite restaurant out of the 10 times you’ve been, you’d be disappointed but probably forgive it, if you have 2 or 3 bad experiences at a new restaurant you’re trying out of 5 times, you’ll probably slate it, so the same sort of logic applies in my view.

Wheeeeedon

This almost goes without saying but…. I’ll say it, Joss Whedon is ironically maybe one of the best things to happen for Justice League, taking the reigns over from Zack Snyder a few months ago, his touch is already evident in recent trailers and I have positive hopes for the films dialogue and character interaction. The film clearly has a lighter touch to it, something fans have been crying out for with Ezra Millers Barry Allen and Aquaman being the conduits for it seemingly, hell the film literally even looks lighter with brighter colours and character costumes, something very deliberate for it.

And say what you want about Whedon but he’s excellent at quippy dialogue and at writing for ensemble dramas, helping to engage and enthrall audiences, all the while getting emotion out of plots as well, all features that should work a treat for Justice League, a film that by no means should be dark, gritty and overly serious.

Your favourite DC characters

A pretty straightforward reason as to why people will flock to see the film (at least I think so) is because of the characters, DC has some of the most beloved characters in comic books in general and seeing Batman, The Flash, Wonder Woman etc on screen together, in live action is something nerdy DC fans have wanted for ages, I mean I know I have. It’s going to be something never before seen and the spectacle alone will bring in a lot of fans, the same way it did for Batman V Superman, despite critical reception.

Great casting

Say what you want about the DCEU, it’s had some pretty great casting in my view, Henry Cavill has been a superb Superman (RIP), Ben Affleck was a wonder stroke as Batman and some peoples favourite even, Gal Gadot is fantastic as Wonder Woman and the rest of the League seem to be great fits also. Not to mention the likes of Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Keaton, there are some great supporting actors in the DCEU so far and the leads have been excellently cast I feel, so whoever has been doing the casting for the films, hats off to you sir/madam because you have been killing it. Oh and let’s not forget Suicide Squad, Jared Leto, Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis… you get the point.

I wonder who we’ll see in Justice League as a brand new face and I’m looking forward to that actually, simply going by the DCEUs past track record.

An underdog 

This is more of a personal viewpoint but people love an underdog story and they like to see an underdog succeed, DC is clearly the underdog in the comic book film stakes and I want them to succeed, maybe a lot of other comic book film fans do as well and I’m sure a lot of DC fans want them to, so you know, fingers crossed. It takes more than the will of the people for a film to succeed of course but I think people will be a bit easier on Justice League actually, even if it’s not that great simply because they want DC to do well and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing less savage take down reviews and more middle of the road ones.

Happy Death Day – review

Christopher Landon directs this mystery thriller set in a college as we follow sorority girl, Tree, as she is forced to relive the same day over and over until she is killed, she attempts to break the cycle and identify her killer, the film stars Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Charles Aitken and Laura Cliften.

Ah the old ground hog day plot in which a central protagonist is forced into a time loop and forced to re-live the same day, trying to break the cycle, you’re familiar with the plot structure and you’ve seen it all before but not quite like Happy Death Day, which does manage to set itself apart in the end, both with its premise (of the main character re-setting their day because of dying) and because of little plot intricacies here and there that differentiate the film from others of the same type.

Giving too much away would be spoiling things of course but the story is refreshingly… different, helped in part by a relatively unknown but fresh faced and enthusiastic cast, especially in the lead – tree (Jessica Rothe) who pulls off a convincingly believable performance, there’s just something very genuine about her personality and while it’s not wholly unique, it feels realistic, as do some of the other characters like Carter (Israel Broussard) and even the stereotypical ones. The plot is actually pretty engaging as well as you go along the story and probably have your own ideas and and conclusions as to why Tree is stuck in a timeloop, who her killer is and so on but importantly, the plot manages to keep you invested and will also probably keep you guessing.

The films dialogue and writing in general is also a strong point to the film, with an irreverent slice of life look at modern college life for a girl in a sorority, portraying stereotypes in a humorous way and mocking the over the top nature colleges can in real life take while not really making them the main point of the story. It’s sort of like Dear White People meets Evil Dead and while that’s a bizarre mashup indeed, basically the film doesn’t take itself too seriously. And interestingly, while the film is a thriller, it also has a surprising amount of drama and genuine character development namely with Tree, who goes on an interesting journey and quite visibly changes throughout the course of the story, rather than going through the motions and just surviving, this makes the plot more than just a slasher and a generic who-dunnit with a mystery element to it.

All in all, Happy Death Day is quite the pleasant surprise, a quirky, fun thriller with an engaging plot and some strong performances, it’s a film you may not be too bothered to see but you may just enjoy if you have even half the fun that the film has with itself.

7/10

. Strong riting

. Engaging plot

. Nuanced in parts but also cliché in others

American Made – review

Biographical drama directed by Doug Liman, following the real life exploits of pilot Barry Seal who became a drug runner in the 1980s for the CIA and for drug cartels, later being exposed by the authorities, the film stars Tom Cruise, Domnhall Gleeson, Sarah Wright and Jesse Plemmons.

Crazy, unbelievable stories are often times very true, real life ones based on the lives and exploits of normal people put into extraordinary situations one way or another, these stories however don’t always make for the best cinematic stories and the quality of them is quite variable. But hey, stories such as these, following the real life Barry Seal do make for interesting viewing in my personal view and Tom Cruise enthusiastically portrays the high wired pilot, driven to succeed and make a quick buck, despite certain moral and ethical iffy-ness about the whole thing.

In fact the film is sort of portrayed more as a comedy than anything, though there are dramatic elements, namely with Barrys’ strained relationship with his partner Lucy because of his job, the tone of the film is just very at odds with what Barry was doing (drug & arms running) for me and I found it hard to find any of the story humorous, despite how outright insane some of the events are – though I’m sure some are made up for dramatic effect. I guess I just don’t really understand the point of the film, aside from simply re-telling the major life events for Barrys career and his exploits, he isn’t really portrayed in a negative light but is shown as a bit of an amoral character, though he doesn’t ever actively hurt or try to hurt people, he is complicit in drug running which hurts people in the long run. And it’s a bit uncomfortable to watch the charming Everyman that is Tom Cruise, portray him in a cheery, chirpy manner.

We see what he did and we know why he did it but beyond that, we know nothing about Barry, his upbringing and get no real voice against what he’s doing apart from his wife Lucy, who probably remains the most sane person in the story, interestingly we also get a few people who represent the government (CIA)  that were essentially employing Barry through the mysterious Monty ‘Schafer’ (Domnhall Gleeson) who does put in a good performance. His portrayal being that of an immoral government agent out to benefit the government at all costs, not caring much for Barry and ready to disavow him the second he gets exposed, very much the stereotype but also very believable in the context of the story and this essentially did happen in real life, so yeah.

Ultimately American Made is a bit of a damp squib in my view, an interesting real life story that re-tells events but haves me leaving after the viewing asking, ‘So what?’, a similar feeling I’ve felt to other biographical dramas in recent years, the film fails to engage me to the level to make me real really feel anything or care that much at all and that is the major downfall for it.

5.5/10

. Decent performance from Tom Cruise

. Plot feels a bit hollow, empty

November film preview

So 2017 is really winding down now and we’re almost at the finishing point (where did the year go!), as we get well into awards run in season and into a number of prominent films to come, here are a few to look out for. (US release dates by default.

LBJ – released on the 3rd of November

Directed by Rob Reiner

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Michael Stahl-David, Richard Jenkins, Bill Pullman, Jeffrey Donovan and Jennifer Jaosn Leigh.

Political and biographical drama set in America, following Lyndon B Johnsons life as he eventually grows up to become president.

 

Thor: Ragnarok – released on the 3rd of November

Directed by Taika Waititi

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban.

Marvels latest entry in the MCU is somewhat of a comedy action-adventure, buddy film as we follow Thors latest exploits, losing his hammer and being banished from Asgard… maybe not the best way to return after his 2 year absence from the MCU. Anyway Thor must find a way back to Asgard with Bruce Banner and regain his powers to save the realm as it’s beset by Hela, the goddess of Death.

 

Murder On The Orient Express – released on the 10th of November

Directed by Kenneth Branagh

Starring: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley.

Classic murder mystery drama set on the titular Orient Express train, in which a murder takes place… pretty self explanatory, 13 strangers of varying backgrounds are stranded on a train together as the mystery of the murder and the murderer takes centre stage, with one man investigating it, before they can strike again.

 

Daddy’s Home 2 – released on the 10th of November

Directed by Sean Anders

Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardinelli, John Cenga, John Lithgow, Mel Gibson and Alessandra Ambrossio.

Sequel to the comedy Daddys Home with fathers Brad and Dusty dealing with their intrusive fathers in the holiday period, while Dusty must also come to terms with his childs biological father in Roger (John Cena).

 

Justice League – released on the 17th of November

Directed by Zack Snyder

Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, J.K. Simmons and Diane Lane.

The DCEUs tentpole film is Justice League, set after the events of Batman V Superman with Supermans death, violent attacks have increased worldwide, Bruce and Diana have set about gathering a team together to fight evil, while an alien force in the form of Steppenwolf and his army attacks Earth.

 

Coco – released on the 22nd of November

Directed by Lee Unkrich

Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Renee Victor.

Disneys latest animated film centred on the concept of the dia de muertos (Spanish day of the dead), following a young 12 year old boy called Miguel who dreams of becoming a musician, as he sets about on an adventure of discovery.

 

Atomic Blonde – review

Atomic Blonde is a spy thriller set in late 1980s Berlin during the Cold War, as tension remains high between West and East (in Berlin alone), a British agent is sent into the field to investigate the death of an agent and the potential release and exposure of a list of secret agents, the film stars Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Toby Jones and Sofia Boutella.

On the face of it, Atomic Blonde is a breath of fresh air, a cold war spy thriller centred around a female protagonist, it’s something seemingly different and new and despite being touted as the ‘female John Wick‘, it’s not quite up to that level. First of all, if you love the 80s, you may get a kick out of the films setting and soundtrack with some classic tunes being played pretty much throughout, to a somewhat stereotypical but humorous depiction of late 80s Berlin but you didn’t want to watch the film purely for some 80s nostalgia I’m sure.

What the film does do it right is its action for one, it’s clearly shot, frenetic and very intense, with every blow, punch and hit feeling ‘real’ and impactful, the film also doesn’t shy away from showing some fairly graphic injuries as a result of fights and again this helps to make the world feel a bit more realistic, though it does seem a bit cartoony when the main character Lorraine is head-shotting 4 dudes in a row. Though to be fair, making the hand to hand fights a bit more of a level playing field does work and Lorraine doesn’t leave every fight unscathed, which tends to be the new normal for modern spy films to evoke realism, also Charlize Theron is pretty solid in the role and comes across well as the rather cold but efficient spy.

She’s actually a likeable character to a degree and doesn’t conform to the sexy femme fatale trope, not relying on her sexuality and doing her job in a fairly non chalant manner which again, goes against the norm for a spy thriller, the rest of the cast does a decent job, namely with James McAvoy as British agent David Percival who puts in a spirited performance that may keep you more engaged with the plot. The plot in general however is the films low point for me, a rather generic story with the cliché, “list of our spies is going to be revealed” trope that just feels all too familiar an aside from the film going against type with the characterization of Lorraine, the rest of the story just feels by the numbers and a bit bland.

The plot just doesn’t go to anywhere really interesting, a shortcoming of a lot of spy thrillers in my view, starting with interesting premises and attractive locales, shots and actors, they fail to keep you engaged and almost always end up ending on a whimper. Much of the same can be said for Atomic Blonde, with an interesting setting and some fun characters, the plot just isn’t that engaging and follows more of the same in terms of spy thriller plots.

6/10

. Strong performances from Theron and McAvoy

. Well done action scenes

. Plot is a bit generic, bland

Are audiences sick of Marvels formula?

So this might seem a bit out of the blue but it’s something I’ve been wondering for most of 2017 and hell, 2016 with the releases of Civil War and Doctor Strange, is the Marvel money making machine slowing down? Are people finally getting a bit sick of the MCU? People getting sick of Marvel?! Perish the thought, I mean Marvel’s cultivated the most successful cinematic universe in film history in 9 years but seriously, what if people are getting bored? And okay, Marvels films are still highly regarded and critically well received but that definitely doesn’t tell the full story.

I’ll start off more with anecdotal points, from seeing peoples initial thoughts on new Marvel films that they see, namely on Spiderman: Homecoming, which did get near universal praise but I saw quite a few people complaining about the ‘marvel formula’ and the samey feel to it, which at this point is somewhat understandable. And this isn’t to say that Spiderman’s bad, a lot of people regard it at the best Spiderman film and almost everyone likes Tom Hollands Spidey and the fact that the beloved character is in the MCU, but the film did fall on familiar trope and the Marvel formula that’s made the MCU so successful.

And okay maybe Homecoming isn’t the best example but let’s look at Doctor Strange, a well liked film and good entry into the MCU but something that not that many people would point to as a great Marvel film and in fact I’d argue it’s a film a lot of comic book film fans have barely thought about in the almost 12 months that it’s been out for now. We may be reaching a point of saturation more than anything and 2 Marvel films a year for the past 6/7 years or so may just be wearing people out. (I’m advocating for both sides here a bit) But people love the look of Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther, people are as excited as ever for Marvel films… and that may be a fair point but okay let’s look at some numbers.

Generally speaking, the MCU has been doing fantastically of course and each new installment is pretty much always a hit, with no Marvel film exactly being a bomb by any means but in broad terms, though the more recent films have done well, with Guardians 2 and Spiderman: Homecoming slotting into the top 6 of MCU films overall grosses, said films aren’t hitting the astronomical heights that previous films like the two Avengers did. Not even Spiderman: Homecoming for whatever reason, with an impressive $879,598,965 at the global box office to date, it’s only fourth in the list for Spiderman films by adjusted ticket price inflation, yes fourth. And it’s second to Spiderman 3 by unadjusted worldwide gross. And you can in part blame this on overall franchise fatigue and Spiderman fatigue with a 2nd reboot in just 5 years but you would have expected the film to have done a fair bit better.

Guardians 2 also didn’t crack the billion dollar club for Marvel or films in general but nevertheless has an impressive $863,556,079, up a bit from Guardians actually but interestingly the last MCU film to cross the billion dollar mark was…. you guessed it, Captain America: Civil War which is sitting pretty at $1.15 billion and while films have come close since, nothing it seems has been able to get those extra few butts in seats for whatever reason. I also highly doubt Thor: Ragnarok or Black Panther will reach $1 billion, as well as they do. But sure, just looking at box office returns also doesn’t tell the full story, you have to look at reviews and general word of mouth and the trend I’ve seen tends to be that people are getting a bit tired of the familiar formula that Marvel is churning out. The DCEU and DCs encroaching film universe is also a major factor with the hit that was Wonder Woman, proving Warner Bros knows what they’re doing and can make a solid film, people have been left clamoring for more of the same and anticipation for Justice League does seem quite high, what DC brings with films like Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman is just something different. Film about a group of super villains teaming up to work together for the government? Check, first (good) female superhero film? Check, DC is bringing nuance and it’s something the comic book film industry has needed quite desperately I feel and audiences seem to be positively responding to the alternative choices.

So, are people fed up completely of the MCU? No of course not, each and every film grosses hundreds of millions of dollars and trailers for their new entries get huge traction online, the anticipation and hype is always there but after 9 years, you have to wonder and with anecdotal evidence – simply from hearing friends or people are people talk about new MCU films. You may now be wondering yourself if people are getting a bit tired of Marvel?

Bladerunner 2049 – review

Denis Vilenueve directs the sort of long awaited sequel to Ridley Scotts Bladerunner, set around 30 years after the first film in a futuristic L.A, we follow a new blade runner whose job tasks him with tracking down a former blade runner who has been missing for 30 years, the film stars Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, Dave Bautista, Robin Wright, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks and Edward James Olmos.

Bladerunner 2049 is a bit of a special film for quite a few people, the film that long running Bladerunner fans have been clamoring for, a return to the sort of dystopic, film noir universe the film inhabits and with Vilenueve at the helm, the project seemed like a match made in heaven and I understand that viewpoint. What I’ll say off the bat is that the film is very well produced and put together, much like Vilenueves’ previous films, with a brilliant, impactful soundtrack that helps to emphasize drama and tension and it’s really something you need to hear in a big theatre in my opinion, for that extra atmosphere.

The visuals as well are pretty fantastic, something the film has been understandably praised for, with some great cinematography and brilliant framing that evokes film noir films of old and brings the film in line with the original Bladerunner in terms of tone and style, the films are very similar but this new update does feel a bit more ‘modern’, though both films are supposed to be far future visions of modern city life. This is achieved with much better visuals with a 30 year update of course and some new elements to the story like an advanced A.I. called JOI played in the story by Ana de Armas who brings a touch of brightness and enthusiasm to a fairly bleak, dark story. And importantly she plays off well with Ryan Goslings’ ‘k’.

Gosling as a whole does give off a good, albeit unremarkable Gosling performance that again sees him staring off into seemingly nothing and not speaking much but he does bring some emotional touches and surprising intensity at moments, as do a few other actors like Harrison Ford, Jared Leto also does a commendable job with his role and really takes the method acting to Jared Leto levels as he tends to. Unfortunately the films’ story didn’t quite resonate with me and I did find a few negatives with the film as a whole, with a very long run time at around 2 hour and 49 minutes, parts did drag for me and feel like a bit of a slog and if people don’t like the film because they feel the plot took to long to go anywhere interesting, I fully understand that criticism.

You could also say that the story is deliberately vague and cryptic as well, not explaining away everything or giving context for new characters or the world of Bladerunner as it is now, things just are the way they are and the story is thus and this may be a bit frustrating for fans of the original, though things from that film are touched on directly (namely with Deckard). I wouldn’t say that the story is boring but it is a bit meandering and it does take its time to really get to the meat of the plot, it’s definitely not a film for everyone as seen by its box office returns but if you’re a fan of the original and of the slow burn drama, you may find it a treat. And while I enjoy a few elements of the final product, the story didn’t really draw me in.

6.5/10

. great soundtrack and fantastic visuals

. Plot is a bit overly long

. Runtime feels a bit stretched, drags in the latter parts of the plot

Death Note – review

Death Note is a live action adaptation of a Japanese manga and anime series of the same name, which sees  American teenager Light, fall in possession of a Death note, a book with powers to kill anyone whose name is written down in it, leading Light on an intriguing path, the film stars Nat Wolf, Lakeith Stanfield, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley and Shea Wigham.

Ah Death Note, it’s an… interesting one, very divisive to say the least and an abomination to say the most (to most fans of the anime anyway), it’s one of two Western adaptation of anime this year – the other being Ghost In The Shell and I think it’s fair to say both have been flops but Death Note has received far more heavy criticism I feel. And there are reasons for this but I actually don’t agree the film is absolute garbage and one of the worst films of the year, it’s a bit misguided and falls short of being a good adaptation.

The production value is there, with this being a Netflix film and some decent actors are present, Nat Wolf is ever the great fit for a quirky teenager who goes on a bit of a roller coaster ride in a plot, while Lakeith Stanfield is actually pretty good as the mysterious L, the strange detective determined to stop Light and his actions, while Willem Dafoe is also good as Death God Ryuk. The performances aren’t necessarily the problem but the plot, storytelling and pacing is and to be fair, I’m judging the film just as a standalone film, not as a straight adaptation (because it isn’t) though I will make comparisons to the anime series in relation to why it’s so good and highly acclaimed.

From the offset, there’s just a very rushed feeling to the story, as if Wingard is trying to rush into the concept of the Death Note and have Light immediately set about using it with no trepidation and to be fair, he is a bit reluctant to use it at first but it’s hard to believe a high school kid would so wistfully dive head in to killing masses of people, we don’t really get much backstory to Light or his personality, aside from him hating bullies and being a bit of a loner. And that’s a shame because Lights personality should be a big part of the story, defining why he uses the Death Note and how he justifies using it and while it’s touched on, we never delve into Lights psyche or get any moralization for what he’s doing, right or wrong. And that’s where Mia comes in, sort of, Lights more deranged other half who feels every bit the psychopath when it comes to the Death Note, their relationship is strange to say the least and again, with little to no explanation they get together which is hard to believe.

The film does explain the Death Note, its rules and so on but it gets a bit lost in some of the melodrama from the series, with some of the more dramatic moments coming across as unintentionally funny, admittedly due to some awkward acting mainly from Nat Wolf and again, the actual series is very dark and some moments are played deliberately for humorous effect but they feel a bit at odd in live action with the films tone. And very importantly and I have to go back to the series for this, half of what made Death Note the series so thrilling is the game of cat and mouse between Light and L, two super smart individuals set in their ways that can’t see eye to eye, think of Brody in Homeland for the first 3 seasons trying to keep his identity secret and that’s more in line with how it felt to watch Death Note. However what we get in the film is a rushed, relationship between the two with characters jumping to strange conclusion that make no sense in the context of the film.

All in all, Death Note isn’t a complete failure but it falls wide of the mark with a rushed plot and little of what made the actual series such a gripping, engaging watch, the performances are alright but with some silly moments and over the top twists, you might find yourself not being able to take the film remotely seriously.

6/10

. Some good peformances

. Not enough delving into Light or Ls’ psyche and their back and forth

. Pacing of the film is odd, scenes transition very quickly and the plot feels rushed