Death Note : 3 of 5
Even though the Death Note live action movies are probably my least favorite medium for telling this excellent story, I still had a pretty good time seeing this first film in the theater last year. I was disappointed they decided to screen the dubbed version, though, so I decided to add this Viz Pictures release to my collection, and I enjoyed it much more in Japanese! In addition to the major departures from the manga version, such as Light's girlfriend Shiori who plays such an important role in the movie, it was fun to notice subtle changes that worked really well. I thought it was a great idea for FBI agent Raye's fiance to follow him onto the train where Light tricks him into killing the other agents, since it gives more substance to her obsession with defeating Kira. I also thought the brief moment where Raye sees the shinigami Ryuk outside of the train was brilliant, since he was just touching a piece of the note! Overlooking some of the semi-goofy acting by the actor playing Light, at least the filmmakers managed to convey a deeper sense of evil for the character - it's pretty amazing when Ryuk actually says Light is worse than a shinigami! The entire hidden camera investigation sequence is painfully slow, but thankfully things really pick up in the finale, and I'm looking forward to checking out the sequel soon (which is also now available on DVD). The bonus material on the DVD is fairly interesting, but it's buried in some of the worst menus I've ever seen (which are supposed to be cool, no doubt!). I would definitely recommend the manga or anime over this movie as a first Death Note experience, but for the established fan this movie is an interesting take on the story!