Death Note: The Last Name (Desu Noto 2) — movie review — early!
Posted on October 16, 2008 by Kris Nelson
I’ve officially had to watch this film twice past my patience limit just because I couldn’t get on the review quick enough before I forgot it all. So here it is, just in time for Halloween cosplay ideas, and so I won’t have to watch it again. —Kris
Death Note: The Last Name starts off running, with an admirably quick and tidy recap, hinging on your ability to ignore the odd usage of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Dani California for its opening credits. Just pummel the eerie ambience you’ve just created, why don’t you? Of course, there’s L (Kenichi Matsuyama) gorging on tons of sweets, there’s Light/Kira (Tatsuya Fujiwara) looking constipated with fret and then smug with absolute power, and there’s Misa Misa (Erika Toda) looking cute and goth for fashion’s sake, now new and improved with her very own Death Note and extreme loyalty to Light, which she misconstrues as love, which he progressively manipulates. Then there’s the awesome scene with all three characters, where L pretends to worship Misa with a goofy mask on. Laugh it up now, because it’s all downhill from here.
Although (seemingly) quicker-paced than its predecessor, with all the pans and zooms big budgets bolster Buster, Death Note: The Last Name sluggishly drags you through too many repeated scenes without building up any suspense. And this is a story about brutal mortality and killer kids’ chaos! If you don’t believe me about the repetition, believe that L resorts to eating sugar cubes straight out of his high tea service set, exhausting all other sugary possibilities for himself (and the poor art director). We’ve captured him (pic above) chowing on some green tea yokan (firm jellied bean paste dessert) because I just want to point out that that is not a Japanese rubber sex toy, and because it’s really funny!
Other broken-record loops include Misa and Light in solitary confinement, bound and refusing food. If upskirt shots of a Japanese teenager strapped helplessly to bondage equipment by detectives is your dig, then you will surely enjoy these scenes. At first they seemed almost over-the-top comical, but then it became evident that they were trying to be serious. So forget that Misa was horribly depressed for so many years due to her entire family being brutally murdered. Forget that she lost her memory because she willingly rejected her Death Note and has no idea why she’s being held captive. Forget that she is being portrayed by a (then) 16 year-old. Just enjoy the torture, you sickos.
While Misa’s persona is fleshed out a tad more, she’s just not given enough direction to solidify. Same with her personal death god, Rem, an amazingly crafted CG superstar with a thick velvety opaque look like he’s been sculpted out of white chocolate, doesn’t pop personality-wise. I wish there were more scenes with Ryuk to display their contrasts, but sadly, Death Note: The Last Name has only about three snippets of beloved, mischievous Ryuk.
On the other hand, L, who is entertaining no matter what he does, is much too clever in this sequel, piecing things together, pulling things out of thin air, being completely assured of his theories because he has to… because the script told him to and the movie’s about to end. That’s how rushed and thrown together the ending seemed. Rushed, yet still painfully slooow. Death Note: The Last Name is 141 minutes total, but it seems like 300.
When a third Death Note surfaces, you’ll get a taste of the Death Note’s depth: how kind, honest, unsuspecting people quickly turn once they acquire omnipotent means to change the world. Their initial fight for justice and compassion for mankind (and disgust for a faulty criminal system) becomes an exercise of power for selfish gain. And the only way they can be stopped is through their own foolish mistakes. And that (aside from substantial, if not overly soap-opera-y, performances) is the only reason why I’d say to watch it… once.
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