I'm going to admit something: I am both familiar with the manga and anime versions of Death Note as well as not a fan. The premise is certainly fascinating enough but I never really bonded with its central character. Light Yagami jumped off the slippery slope of morality too quickly for me to like him. I also didn't really think L that much as the conflict between them was fascinating but lacked a certain oomph I think which would have propelled the story to greatness. Mind you, I enjoyed the live action movie and I'm also decidedly a minority in my belief the manga/anime were so-so.
|I love the scream he gives when he first sees Ryuuk.|
Light Turner is a different character than Light Yagmai in numerous ways. The original Light was a murderer with a God Complex pretty much from the get go and had no hesitation to murder cops or anyone else who stood in his way. He was also a super genius and you could basically see him as a young Hannibal Lecter. The new Light is a deliberately more ordinary human being both in morality as well as intelligence. He's smart, yes, but not a budding Sherlock Holmes but more like a kid who reads alot. He sees the Death Note as a weapon to kill the worst people in the world and refuses to kill law enforcement or other individuals who might get in his way.
|The nerd loves the cheerleader--so he shows him his magic.|
The story follows Light as he reacts like a typical seventeen-year-old by trying to impress a local girl with the most important thing in his life. Thankfully, Mia (Margaret Qualley) is fascinated by the power which Light wields and the two soon become murderers for justice. This attracts the attention of the world's greatest detective, L (Lakeith Stanfield), who soon begins to zero in on Light's location despite the seemingly supernatural nature of his abilities. Simultaneously, Light becomes revered under the pseudonym Kira by the United States' public at large.
|L, don't confront the guy with the magic book o' death.|
I also enjoyed the Mia character, who bears almost no similarity to the Misa characterf rom the anime (who is basically Death Note Harley Quinn). Mia has a lot of the qualities of the original Light with the fact she's fascinated by the power of the Death Note as well as excited by the possibilities. Their "Death Note and chill" nights are actually kind of touching in a warped way. I think guys who can remember their crush on girls cooler than them and the fact they'd do just about anything to impress them will sympathize with Light's weird mixture of adorkability as well as godlike disdain.
|This won't raise any questions. None whatsoever.|
The movie does have a few flaws. L is written as reckless and somewhat foolhardy, completely the opposite to his previous personality but also somewhat at odds with events. You could argue he's been smacked by the existence of the supernatural and his friend dying but it's a bit off. There are also a number of small flaws like L assuming Light would kill him despite no evidence he would harm law enforcement officials.
In conclusion, this is a fun movie and I'm very pleased with it. It's not going to win any Oscars for deep acting but it's a work which is fun, engaging, and has an interesting premise. I suspect people unfamiliar with the manga/anime will like it more. Except, I think people who wouldn't like the original would like this.