Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: B
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: A-
- Age Rating: 16 and Up
- Region: A - N. America, S. America, East Asia
- Released By: Viz Pictures
- MSRP: 39.99
- Running time: 260
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 1080p
- Disc Encoding: VC-1
- Series: Death Note
Death Note Movie Double Feature
Death Note Movie Double Feature Blu-ray Review
By John Rose
September 10, 2010
Release Date: August 24, 2010
Death Note Movie Double Feature
© Viz Pictures
When a young man gains the power of a god of death will it enable him to create a utopia in his image or will another’s brilliance expose him as just possessing hubris?
What They Say
Law student Light is upset with the justice system and when he finds the Death Note dropped by a death god, he vows to rid the world of evil. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies. As criminals all over the world begin to mysteriously die, a world-renowned detective known only as "L" is put on the case to stop this serial killer that the public calls "Kira."
Death Note 2: The Last Name
The battle between Light and L continues as Light joins the investigation team. L suspects Light of being Kira while Light attempts to learn L's real name. Time becomes even more crucial with the appearance of a second Kira. Whose name will be the last written in the Death Note?
Both the Japanese and English tracks are presented in 5.1 DTS-HD MA. For the purpose of the review the Japanese track was watched and it is a very good presentation with no dropouts or distortions noticed. The track makes good use of the subwoofer to add depth to scenes though the rear speakers don’t get as much of a work out.
Originally created in 2006 and shown in theaters the feature is presented in Widescreen 1.78:1. The features are presented in 1080p and the level of details visible is well above that of that seen on the DVDs. While the film does have a fine level of grain it won’t keep one from being able to notice details such as the threads on the basketball net in the first movie or other details. The blacks and colors are also very vibrant and come across very well.
The features come in a Blu-ray case that has a flipper inside so the two movie BDs and the extras DVD do not overlap. The cover to the case has light tossing an apple up featured on it while L stands on the left side of the back while biting his thumb. The back also features 10 stills from the features. If L had a bit more space and the copy “The notebook of death that generated mind-blowing suspense is now in High-Def it could have been almost the perfect cover for this release.
The menu for the first disc has the choice options down at the very bottom of the screen and an image of Ryuk’s shoulder feathers in the left corner with “Death Note” placed over them. Small snippets of different scenes play on the vast majority of the screen while a track from the film that starts soft then builds to crescendo is in the background. Selecting languages brings up a bred is bar and the options are presented right on the main screen and chapters brings a similar function. The feature itself is also quick to load. The only thing that takes time to load is the trailers that are on the disc. The second disc is much the same except that Rem’s shoulders are on the left side, the logo for Death Note II The Last name is over it, the menu select bars are black and it looks like brighter scenes were chosen to play in the background in general.
This release also contains a DVD which contains two 50 some minute making of features each spotlighting one of the movies. It looks like the interviews from the DVD version from the first movie are not included and some of the footage from the second special was made into the shorter making on the second DVD as some shots are the same but the director is missing. Really, really odd that they didn’t have both DVDs extras on this disc as well.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The film open with a flying shot showing the moon over some storm clouds. The camera the plunges through the clouds and sweeps through the clouds and the storm that is pouring down on Tokyo. The camera settles on one building and as the point of view changes a black notebook falls from the sky onto a small spot in the middle of the street that then has no water on it. As the music crescendos the words “DEATH NOTE” appear on the cover. A quick cut shows a hand writing in the notebook interspersed with people suddenly clutching their chest and dropping dead. The film then establishes that many criminals and suspected criminals have been dying in similar manner.
The effects of these deaths on the public are then shown as the authorities are baffled and the reaction of the people in society is shown. Some proclaim these deaths as the work of a being they call “Kira” and reaction is mixed. Some proclaim the deaths to be God’s work and many welcome the punishment delivered to criminals. Web sites start popping up with fans with many praising his work but others arguing Kira is just a criminal himself and deserving of punishment.
As the debate is being shown on news program on a giant screen in the heart of Tokyo a special news flash interrupts the broadcast to cover breaking news of a hostage taking crime in progress. With this pronouncement a young man reaches into his shoulder bag and pulls out the Death Note and calmly writes the criminals name. As the news cast continues suddenly the people who were held hostage come running out and proclaim the criminal is dead. As the people around him start to wonder if Kira was responsible the camera closes in on the youth who betrays no emotion on his face.
The story then cuts to the young man fleecing some fellow students out of money on the basketball court. His girlfriend (Shiori) disapproves and mentions she had hoped to go out with him to celebrate his having passed the bar exam. As they walk through the cafeteria fellow students are debating whether or not what Kira is doing is right or not. Shiori expressed her disapproval of Kira’s actions and says she believes Light’s pursuit of the law is more preferable.
In a flashback the film shows Light hacking into the police database thanks to access he obtains from his unknowing police chief father. He is attempting to discover whether crime is true being punished and is shattered to discover just what the limits of the law are. Doubting his eyes Light tracks down one of the suspects that had been let go to hear him boasting about getting away with murder and laughing at his victim’s family. Light comes face to face with the criminal and watches him threaten him and flaunt the limits of the law.
A disillusioned light walks out into the night whose falling rain seems to match the fall in faith he has had for what the law can do. He throws away his Compendium of the Laws book and as he turns his gaze he sees a black notebook that lies in front of him with no rain falling upon it. He picks the book up and brings it home but laughs at the rules in the book such as “Whoever’s name is written on this notebook will die.” As he looks at the book he hears news broadcast of a murderer who even sent a letter to the police admitting he did it and writes his name in. The next morning Light sits down to breakfast and spots in the paper that the criminal died suddenly the night before. A stunned Light suddenly faces the prospect that the book he scoffed at is real.
Light sets out for a final test and sees the criminal who confronted him the other night on the other side of some train tracks. He writes his name and as the train rushes past them the criminal’s life seems to follow the train off the screen as he collapses dead. As a stunned Light walks off and starts to come to terms with what exactly is in his hands a voice from above announces he is glad Light likes the book. Light looks up and sees an otherworldly creature on top of a light post which then flies down to face him. The creature (Ryuk) says that he dropped the notebook but that it now belongs to Light. Ryuk tells Light that Light may experience a type of fear only the users of the Death Note ever know.
Meanwhile the police taskforce, lead by Light’s father, are determined to track down the culprit they believe must be behind it. As Light’s father meats with the commissioner he learns that the famous detective “L” also believes that a criminal is behind the work-and that the criminal is from Japan. Light’s father is introduced to Watari who is the go between L and those he talks to. L uses a computer to communicate and show the evidence he has that the events are not natural.
As Light is relishing his thoughts on the world he will craft with his new powers to judge those he deems guilty a trap is set that he falls into. L has set a false broadcast that both limits the area Kira can be living in but also shows that Kira needs more than just thought to kill as he taunts him from behind a stylized “L” on the screen. With this challenge a life or death mental chess game now begins as L works to close the noose around Kira’s neck and Light tries to prove his superiority to L.
As L’s moves start to close in Light starts to test other aspects of the Death Note’s powers and what he can use it to force people to do. He uses these powers when he discovers that he is being followed by an FBI agent but he succeeds in bringing another adversary into his realm and furthering L’s shrinking list of likely suspects. As the investigation team is narrowed after fear their lives are in jeopardy L finally meets with those still willing to pursue Kira. L is also a young man like Light and is peculiar in his way of perching rather than sitting on furniture and his continuous eating of sweets. With L’s direct help the number of suspects is finally narrowed down to chief Yagami’s family and the superintendent.
As he discovers he is under investigation Light shows his brilliance by first avoiding obvious signs of what he is doing but a horrible chain of events is about to be set in motion that will have Light as a victim of those who believe he is Kira…though is all as it seems? While a young girl named Misa Amane is threatened in another part of town and comes across a Death Note of her own Light and L finally meet in person. As Light has used events to get onto the investigation team he is now more than ever under L’s surveillance as the two play their deadly chess game of Light trying to stay one step ahead as L hides his true name from him. Things escalate as the Prime Minister talks of supporting Kira’s actions and public sentiment seems to be turning in Kira’s favor. Amidst this atmosphere a second Kira appears who wants to meet the first. This second Kira causes new problems for Light as her actions reveal far more than he would like.
As the events cumulate Light may be forced to take some extreme means to free himself from suspicion-and how will he cope with finding a third Kira when he has no memory of the Death Note? And who will ultimately win the battle of wits between Light and L-and will the results be anything anyone can actually take pride in achieving?
The films do a good job of setting up the suspense of events using cuts but mostly the powers of the main two male leads to demonstrate the force of wills they are meant to portray. The films do a good job of adapting the story in such a way that new comers won’t feel rushed but fans of the original won’t feel that the story has left its roots completely. Some of the downsides are that many supporting actors are not given much to work with and that much of the moral debate is passed over in favor of showing off the intellectual battle between Light and L. It is still compelling to watch but feels like something is missing and sometimes glaring as how people adapt morally to such a world as Light is trying to make in the face of real world implications just feels like it would make the film more real.
The Death Note movies take the basics of the manga (and then anime) story and keep the core elements while changing many of the situations and even players involved. The story flows fairly well when watched as a double feature as the suspense builds up for the first’s ending and is carried over acceptably for the second. The effects are very good and the gods of death are presented in a way that make them appear to be interacting with the cast but also the ethereal characters that they are. The films do a good job of taking the original story and formatting it to be told to a different audience in a different medium. It isn’t perfect as some of the supporting characters wind up seriously underdeveloped and some of the leaps of logic used seem to be even more farfetched than they are in either the manga or animated forms but the films are still an enjoyable trip and are faithful to the spirit of the source material if not the letter of the same.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Behind the Scenes (106 minutes, separate DVD)
Samsung 50" Plasma HDTV, Denon AVR-790 Receiver with 5.1 Sony Surround Sound Speakers, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080.