Death Note Trailer Sparks Criticism
April 11, 2017
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On March 22, 2017, the trailer for the long-awaited adaptation ¨Death Note¨ was released. On the first day, it received millions of views and mixed responses. Many viewers gave the minute long trailer a thumbs up, but an overwhelming amount gave it a thumbs down. On April 10th, the like to dislike ratio was 145:62. Down in the comments section, we see a variety comments that range from actual criticism to unabashed hatred towards the film which will be released on Netflix on August 25th.
The reason for this outburst can be accredited to a few reasons, the first and foremost being the casting choices. The movie is based on a Japanese manga of the same name. The original storyline follows the mundane life of Light Yagami, an average high school genius, and how he changes as soon as he comes across a mysterious notebook. He soon discovers that it has the power to kill anyone whose name is written in it. As a result, he develops a god-complex and begins disposing of criminals in an attempt to make the world a better place. However, he soon becomes the target of the police force, led by a detective known by only his alias – ¨L¨. The two men, each with their own perception of justice, begin a cat and mouse game, trying to hunt down the other without revealing their own identity.
Throughout the story, readers are constantly kept on the edges of their seats with the countless twists and turns in between each page. Death Note challenges long-standing beliefs about right and wrong, the greater good, and the price of power. The new 2017, movie, however, didn´t seem to get the memo as it seems to be putting a lot of its energy into large set pieces followed by bursts of action and violence. In addition to all that, the director of the film, Adam Wingard, said that viewers should also expect to see some nudity. Perhaps they wanted to ¨Americanize¨ the story and make it appealing to a different audience, but it seems to me like this is a whole different movie.
A lot of people took issue with the casting choices, particularly the lack of Asian-American actors. Light Yagami is played by actor Nat Wolff, who is well known for being the lead actor in ¨Paper Towns¨. L is played by Lakeith Stanfield, who played Snoop in ¨Straight Outta Compton.¨
While I understand that this would have been a great opportunity to see Asian-American actors take lead roles in a well-known story, I also respect Wingard’s choices in selecting the actors. If an actor or actress can do his/her role justice, then they deserve to play that role.
Furthermore, the producers of the movie explicitly stated that ¨the talent and diversity represented in our cast, writing, and producing teams reflect our belief in staying true to the story’s concept of moral relevance — a universal theme that knows no racial boundaries.¨
Honestly, it is way too early to judge this movie as it is right now. Though previous western adaptations of popular Japanese manga – such as the recent ¨Ghost in the Shell¨ movie starring Scarlett Johansson – have received mostly negative reviews in terms of staying true to the plotline, it is important to always keep an open mind.
Death Note could break the trend. It has the potential to be the best adaptation of the year or the worst.
We’ll just have to wait and see.