Review: Death Note: Light Up the New World — Not a cash grab but…

Arma shirigami Death Note Light Up The New World 2016

Death Note: Light Up the New World (2016)

Movie review

Directed by Shinsuke Sato (I am Hero, Gantz), Death Note: Light Up the World is a sequel to the original two-part, manga-based films Death Note (2006). While some of the original cast did reprise their roles for cameo appearances, the film’s story is completely original, taking place 10 years after the events in Death Note 2: The Last Name where 6 Death Notes are sent to Earth and from there a new cat and mouse game begins between L’s successor Ryuzaki (Sosuke Ikematsu), Kira’s successor Yuki Shien (Masaki Suda) and a special task force member named Tsukuru Mishima (Masahiro Higashide) with Misa Amane (Erika Toda) back involved.

If you didn’t read the mange or watched the film adaptations, it might be very confusing for you. Same rules still apply and the film doesn’t spend too much time explaining everything all over again — whoever’s name is written on the Death Note while their face is on the writer’s mind, that person will die in whatever way and time if specified — with a couple of new rules that makes the film very interesting. Surprisingly, this unnecessary sequel didn’t turn out to be what I’d consider as a cash grab. It has high production value, it looks and sounds great, it has complex and ambitious ideas. The new characters, although the performances by the three main actors are little too over the top, are very well thought out and they have depth. Even the designs of the new shirigami’s (death gods) are fantastic and one of them named Arma actually is actually quite compelling as well.

Masahiro Higashide Sousuke Ikematsu Death Note Light Up The New World 2016

Unfortunately, the film suffers from a lot of issues — rushed narratives, terrible character development, lame predictable police procedural moments, repetitive scenes, emotionally empty, zero moral exploration and relying a lot on coincidences and dumb character decisions. The twists and reveals at the end feel unearned and unconvincing. The seemingly interesting backstory and depth of the characters are unexplored. And while the film does well in setting this war between Death Note holders and the parties who seek to own them, the actual detective and cat-and-mouse parts are not as cleverly fun or engaging as the original and they could’ve been executed better as well. There are parts where the characters don’t even explain how they discover about certain clues. Also, the whole DNA thing that gives birth to L and Kira’s successors are taken too lightly — it’s like oh, just so happens both of these fellows cloned themselves right before they died, and it’s not even mentioned in the previous films.

With all that being said, Death Note: Light Up the New World has simply missed loads of opportunities. This should’ve been a two-parter and even had a potential to start its own trilogy. And I think the producers and director themselves do acknowledge that they needed more than one film for everything. A three-part miniseries titled Death Note: New Generation was aired in Japan to give the three main characters the development and exposition that are missing in the film. The character Near from the spinoff L: Change the World (2008) and original source is featured in the 2nd episode with Melo briefly mentioned. But since Near and Melo exist in this adaptation’s world, it actually makes the film’s ending highly flawed.

misa amane meme Ryuk Death Note Light Up The New World

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What I would’ve named the film: “Death Notes: More Deadly Than Samsung Galaxy Notes”

Malaysian censorship: Didn’t notice any scenes cut and despite the amount of deaths and action, I doubt there’s any that anyone would feel that it’s required anyway.

Verdict: Great ideas for an original sequel but sadly, not enough time to execute everything properly and hence, no where Near as good as its predecessors (pun intended).

Rating: 3 / 5

Death Note light up new world 2016 movie poster malaysiaBased on: “Death Note” manga series by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
Country / Language: Japan / Japanese, European

Genre: Crime, fantasy, psychological thriller, detective
Running Time: 135 minutes
Director: Shinsuke Sato
Screenwriter: (no info)
Cast: Masahiro Higashide, Sosuke Ikematsu, Masaki Suda, Erika Toda, Rina Kawaei, Mina Fujii

Malaysia Release Date: 8 December 2016
Rated: P13
Local Distributor: TGV Pictures
Production: Nikkatsu, Django film

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