Death Note

Death Note

The key word here is camp.

I still think the OG series is self-reflexive enough, and not just the narrow-minded fascistic power-trip some people make it out to be, but the dichotomy and contrast between it and Adam Wingard's flamboyantly corny film is extremely telling. The cartoon version of Light is cool, cold, detached, intellectual, machiavellian, etc, the perfect embodiment of how a more true to life (and American) teenage sociopath with floppy bleached hair who can kill with impunity (this film's Light) probably see's himself. What's even more interesting is how this same dichotomy actually reflects the other characters too, that they're original animated counterparts feel like Light's imagined/idealized versions of them. L goes from Light's intellectual companion/equal to someone who's not having a lick of fun with all these psychological games of cat and mouse and just wants to put an end to the bullshit already (he's much more emotional and messy here), Mia goes from meaningless sexpot (if I'm gonna criticize Wingard's film for anything, it's some hardcore asexuality erasure for his protagonist) and dimwitted pawn to, well, Light's actual companion/equal, both in terms of intellect (i.e. a little clever, but not half as much they believe themselves to be) and bratty psychopathy.

So Light's a whinny sadboi with my hair circa-15 years old, Mia is a tumblr-goth GF from hell, and the deaths are delicious ''Final Destination''-esque splatter set to ironic 80s needle drops. Geez, I wonder if Adam Wingard is taking the piss here, maybe just a little? He's obviously working against studio constraints that wanna both take the material blandly serious and also not be TOO edgy, hence how this keeps pulling back from ever actually making Light an irredeemable monster, but his own snotty vision of supernatural drone strikes in the age of post-emo is clear enough that it's easy to ignore the few bits that actively work against it. I say that all adaptations/reboots/re-imaginings/regurgitations should piss on their own source material then light it on fire (100% in that order), and that's no different in cases where I actually like the source material. Art is a sandbox, set yourself some vague constraints (i.e. the film that some moneyed douche is technically paying for) and then just bug out within em whichever wet and wild way you can.

And yeah, speaking in terms of pure #aesthetics, Wingard's sandbox is my kinda party. It's definitely a grab-bag approach, dood seems to revelling in the fact that he's got this much $$$ to play with, and he tends to throw it at set-pieces that have little to do with the movie but were obviously dear to his fetishistic heart. I just about swooned when a character started exploring an abandoned William Malone-styled gothic asylum, complete with secret cobwebbed passages and honest to god demon shadow things just lurking around, having nothing to do with anything. There's also a huge chunk of the film that's straight up cyberpunk for no goddamn reason, a bunch of gaudy and colourful techno hallways, L's inexplicably got a ''Blade Runner'' gun, and there's a god-tier neon drenched parkour chase near the end where L shoves some random doods face into a bowl of soup!?! Lakeith Stanfield as L is an inspired bit of gonzo too, he's got enough natural gravitas that he doesn't come off too silly to take seriously (it's close though!), and man does this guy just move weeeeeiiirdly. I even read in an interview with Wingard that they had trouble shooting that final chase scene because Lakeith runs so distinctly that when the stunt guy stepped in he was too obviously not Lakeith. Nat Wolff as Light is mostly just a pandering wet noodle doing shitty epic face, but I think that's kinda the point? Machiavellian geniuses are cool in theory, sure, but whiny impotent brats are much more honest. 

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