Spoilers ahoy! (For both the anime and live action)
The Death Note live action films were genuinely entertaining. While it gave us a cadre of b-grade acting and an incomprehensibly poor casting choice of the actor portraying Yagami Light, I’ll give it credit for a few things:
- following the anime storyline fairly well
- an extremely hot Misa Amane (who cares if she couldn’t act)
- a superior L-centric ending (Light kills L, my ass. Plus none of the Mello/Near nonsense)
- and most of all, a fantastic live action portrayal of L by Ken’ichi Matsuyama (who, incidentally, also provided the voice for Jealous in the anime).
L: Change the World is a spinoff “sequel” that covers L’s last days after having beaten Light.
The film chronicles the final 23 days of L’s life, as he solves one final case involving a bio-terrorist group that aims to wipe out much of humanity with a virus with 100 times the virulence of Ebola, taking a boy he names Near, the sole survivor of its use in a village in Thailand, and a junior high schooler named Maki Nikaido under his wing. – Wikipedia
If the above description sounds lame, it’s because it is. Without any anime material to base the story off of (there’s only a minute of Ryuk, and seconds of Misa and Light in flashback format), the plot is unoriginal and at times ludicrous. The acting is generally the same b-grade material, with a few bright spots. But the most grievous part of all is the writers end up turning L from the world’s most brilliant detective into merely a very smart eccentric. It’s through no fault of Matsuyama, who does another great job as L, and is the only reason why you might want to watch this movie. But the writers never give L’s brilliance a chance to shine.
Anyway, if you love L, and Matsuyama’s portrayal of L, you’ll enjoy Change the World as a two-hour L fanservice. Otherwise, you probably won’t lose any sleep missing out on this movie.
It did get me thinking about how I’d feel about a live action US-version of Death Note. I think if I’d had my druthers, I’d have Chris Nolan direct it. Johnny Depp would probably be a good L, he could get the look down and is a solid character actor. Christian Bale would probably be a good version of Light (I’m thinking of Patrick Bateman). Of course both of those guys are about 15 years too old for the characters. But I think if they treated the source material respectfully, and took it seriously, it could be a very good movie.