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Death Note: L, Change the WorLd (subtitled)

4 Ratings: 3.0
A movie released April 29, 2009

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Release Date: April 29, 2009
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about Death Note: L, Change the WorLd (subtitled)

Lacks the Raw Thrills and Compelling Screenplay of the Death Note Live Action Series

  • Apr 23, 2009
L: CHANGE THE WORLD is the spin-off of the highly successful DEATH NOTE and DEATH NOTE: The Last Name. (marketers would call it Death Note 3) The two films based on the Japanese comic book (also adapted into an anime series) were box-office hits all over Asia, so obviously, Japanese filmmakers, taking a page from Hollywood's book intends to capitalize on its fame. However, the film seems more of an ode to the series and is aimed generally to diehard fans. Those unfamiliar with the two live action films may be alienated so I suggest you watch those first before viewing this film.

The tale occurs in the final 23 days L (Kenichi Matsuyama) has left in the world. A killer virus had killed the occupants of a small village in Thailand. A former colleague named "F" discovers the secrets of the virus and sends a young boy somehow immune to the fatal disease to L's doorstep. A few days later, 12-year old Maki ( Mayuko Fukuda) also shows up with a different strain of the virus, described as a combination of Ebola and Influenza. Apparently, her father Nikaido (Shingo Tsurumi) had created the virus and a subversive group called "Blue Ship" is after it. Leader Dr. Kujo (Youki Kudoh) intends to use it to change the world by ridding it of all the useless people who inhabit it--useless people are those who abuse our natural resources; so you can guess exactly just how many people they intend to eliminate.

The film cleverly takes place during the last 23 days of L's existence. Changing the world by killing "useless" people? The first two films focused on the scum of the Earth, and the theme may be somewhat similar to the "Death Note" franchise in its own way. While "Death Note" dealt with the supernatural and mystical world of "Death Gods", this time around, the "death god" is man-made. "L: Change the World" isn't really a bad film but the absence of a real effective villain such as Light Yagami, the film fails to impress. You may say that the villains in this film are pretty routine; and the direction by Hideo Nakata while very competent, has so little to work with. "Death Note 1 and 2" were full of cerebral thrills and they kept me in the edge of my seat. The mind games between Light and L were the two films' showstopper, and without an effective manga to back this film up, the antagonists were left unexplored and their goals a little too predictable.

L is the same sugar-loving genius, punk rock refugee with bad posture; quirky and full of eccentric charisma. All these seem a little wasted when the genius detective is set against a rather very underwhelming antagonist. Sadly, his displays of outsmarting and staying one step ahead of Dr. Kujo and Matoba neither immerses or impressed me. The main reason why the two Death Note films were so successful is because they were full of surprises and at times quite difficult to predict what may happen next. Every good hero needs a good villain or his exact opposite. The film's simple exposition makes the film a lot less thrilling and suspenseful but it does eliminate the complexities of the wordy dialogue that some viewers saw that it hampered "Death Note" a little. (not for me though)

Kenichi Matsuyama's portrayal of L is endearing and charming, and the character does get a lot of character development in place of displays of his super-intellect and cunning brain. The Death Note series focused more on mind games and a somewhat convoluted plotline, this time around, the film focuses more on L's personality. He develops a warm connection with the young boy (later named "Near") who is also a mathematical genius. You see more as to how L spends his last days, and it was quite entertaining to see him reject the temptation of the "notebook of death" by burning it. His involvement and compassion for Maki is quite satisfying as he tries his best to comfort her and shows that such an eccentric individual is capable of emotion. L's "Crepe and Ice Cream mobile" put a smile on my face as I am sure fans will find this very amusing and cute (?). L also tries his hand at being an action hero but all we really see him do is run, climb and straighten his back.

L isn't as compelling or interesting a figure without a mystical situation with surprising twists or a nemesis such as Light Yagami; you may say they are two sides of the same coin. A hero is only made by the villain he faces? If the producers manage to create a formidable villain worthy of L's supposed magnificent intelligence, a new franchise may work. The film just isn't as intense as its two predecessors but at least I found it fun to watch. The film is a little slower-paced than I expected and suspense is only found on occasion and when they are, it may get a bit redundant. The film just doesn't possess the darkness inherent in the "Death Note" live action films, but for die-hard fans of the series, this film is definitely still worth a look. Others may feel little lost and maybe a little bored without knowledge of this character. This film wasn't on par with "Death Note" but at least it wasn't as bad as I feared.

Recommended timidly to fans of Death Note and a good rental for everyone else. [3 Stars]
Note: Utilize the original Japanese Language track with the English subs. Preserves the mood and emotion.
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April 23, 2009
Thanks for this review! A few of us are planning to see the dubbed version on the 29th. I can't wait to get a glimpse of Near, as I missed him in the other movie. Once again, you rock, but I think you already knew this...heehee
April 24, 2009
You're welcome, Brnwriter. just keep your expectations low with this one. The anime series of Death Note is awesome though, with a somewhat different ending from the live action version.
April 23, 2009
There's a film I've been meaning to ask you if you've seen. It's called Far North and it stars Michelle Yeoh and Sean Bean. It looks like a cool suspense film and you'd probably like it.
April 24, 2009
It's on my list but unfortunately, I have slowed down in my movie watchng because of my current situation. I'll catch you later.
April 25, 2009
Okay, take care, man.
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