Monday, November 12, 2007

The Trail's Movie Corner: Death Note

Spent a lovely weekend off with the Lady this weekend, without anyone dropping by or calling us up. Not that we don't enjoy friends and family, but we were on a three-in-a-row stretch of visitors, so it was extremely nice to spend the time together.

How was that time spent, you ask? How about on a trip to the Pacific Mall in Markham! Hells yeah.

A traditional Chinese style market, the Pacific Mall has over 500 stores, none of which are bigger than your bedroom, where fake Coach purses and 7 for $20 bootleg DVDs are plentiful. It was possibly the most magical place I have been to since arriving here. That said, you should never purchase bootleg DVDs. It's illegal, and takes money out of the pockets of moviemakers. Now, in a completely unrelated matter, let's discuss the Japanese film currently unavailable in North America that I had the opportunity to see.

Death Note tells the story of Light Yagami, a law student who comes across a 'death note,' a black notebook left in the human world by a shinigami, or God of Death. If a person's name is written in the Death Note, they suffer a heart attack and die in 40 seconds. Light originally uses the book to eliminate criminals he deems deserving, but as the cops grow wise, with the aid of the genius sleuth known only as 'L', Light finds himself becoming more like the criminals he despises as he takes continually drastic measures to protect himself.

The film carries through this promising plot pretty well, as I was legitimately curious to see how far Light would take his goal to remake a crime free world, and gives the viewer more ethical dilemmas to think about than a typical popcorn PG-13 movie. But it's not without its flaws.

First and foremost is the CGI used for Ryuk, the Shinigami who gives Light his death note, while faithful to his depiction in the manga, is pretty obvious. Secondly, and this was more a personal taste, but I don't know anyone I've wanted to kick in the crotch more than 'L'. I know his mussy air, squatting on the furniture as he gazes sideways at his computer monitor, shoving an endless supply of sweets into his face is supposed to be charismatically mysterious. Maybe that works for Japanese middle school girls, but it didn't do shit for me.

But the most damning criticism is the fact that Death Note serves only as a set up to its own continuation. There's no definitive resolution after the film's two hours, no show down with Light and 'L', and a minor character appears out of nowhere to take on an extremely important role in the sequel. Will all this work out in the end? Will Death Note go down as a four hour epic of smart if meaningless entertainment? We'll find out next week when I get through the sequel. Seven for $20, yo!


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