By Darren Chan Keng Leong (Singapore)
The film starts off in setting the tone of the Gods delivering the six death notes into the world. I had my doubts on whether a 10 year gap would hinder this latest instalment, Death Note: Light Up the New World. This film is the sequel to the 2006 film, Death Note 2: The Last Name. The film manages to stand on its own in bringing the audience back to the overshadowing darkness that the books possess as it is fatal to those that names are written down in the book. Also the user has to picture the person’s name in his or her mind for death to take effect.
The premise reflects the events of Death Note 2: The Last Name where mysterious murders that are still happening which are caused by the user’s abuse of the death note to spark chaos and mayhem among the human population. We are made known to the fact that the maximum number of death notes on earth can only be six and if there are more, they will be rendered useless. Now the heirs of L and Kira which are portrayed by Sosuke Ikematsu as Ryuzaki and Masaki Suda as Yuki Shien are out to stop each other from collecting all the death notes. There is an also a death note task force to collect all the six death notes in order to stop all the mysterious murders from happening.
The cast manages to bring their own unique characteristics to the film and there are nice cameos and scenes of familiarity from the previous Death Note films that will please fans. Do try and spot cameos from Kenichi Matsuyama as the original L and Tatsuya Fugiwara as Kira from the previous films. I am glad that each character in the film had enough screen time and the film did not feel rushed from beginning to end. The original Kira returns as a computer virus in mocking the cyber security team which I found tied up the loose ends by making the connection to the previous films. It is a chilling moment when the original Kira declares through the video message, “You cannot win against Kira. Kira is God.”
It was great to see the Shinigami (death god) such as Ryuk again and his presence was greater in the film as he interacted with the other cast members. He also played a vital role in narrating some of the scenes in the film. Then there was the inclusion of the Shinigami eyes in the film which showed the prowess of the bearer and the death note itself. The Shinigami was better utilized in this film as it aided the death note bearer better by being part of the main storyline. I would have liked to meet more Shinigamis as there were more death notes being featured in the film but we only got to meet two of them.
The ending of the film is complicated and confusing as I was left with moments not understanding the interaction with the characters. I felt that the director Shinsuke Sato could have come up with a better ending that does not involve the taskforce having to take out a single guy with that many bullets. The ending was ambiguous and perhaps there might be a sequel in the near future. The main theme songs “Dear Diary” and “Fighter” were performed by Namie Amuro which are decent tracks.
The theme of trust and betrayal runs throughout the film but it could have been better in terms of character dialogue and more intellect just like the previous films. Audiences should stay till the credit scenes roll as there is a brief after credit scene. Death Note: Light Up the New World manages to keep the audience interest in the franchise alive by cleverly tying the films with its predecessors. The cinematography and score is slightly better in terms of environment panning and fans would definitely appreciate the film more. For new viewers of the Death Note franchise, do watch the other films before watching the latest installment so that you will not feel lost or confused by the plot. Overall, the film offers a much needed fresh perspective to the Death Note franchise!