When Netflix first announced it was doing a live-action adaptation of the popular manga-turned-anime Death Note, fans were uneasy. Unfortunately, a new trailer for the movie hasn’t done much to assuage those fears.
Following the release of the trailer yesterday, people were quick to note just how different the direction of the film seemed to be in comparison to the original text it was being adapted from. Besides the fact that it features a majority-white, Western cast and is set in Seattle instead of Japan, Netflix’s version of the movie, which is being directed by Adam Wingard (The Guest, You’re Next) looks more like an action film than a psychological thriller. Many of the scenes the trailer focuses on are thematically connected through the idea of destruction: a ferris wheel falling, explosions in the middle of nowhere and a sea of bodies left around the city.
It doesn’t stop there, though. In the Netflix adaptation, Light Turner (who went by Light Yagami, is a bullied teen who wants to seek revenge on those who make life miserable for others. He’s an outsider who doesn’t particularly fit into the world he’s supposed to be a part of. He is, in every sense of the term, a stereotypical teen character in a movie about oddballs.
Except that’s not how Light is portrayed in the original manga. Creator Tsugumi Ohba imagined Light as a straight-A, dedicated high school student. Although Light didn’t have many friends, he was in no way ostracized from his community. He was loved by women and respected for his intelligence. He didn’t harbor ill feelings toward any of his fellow students and the only reason he began using the notebook in the first place was to rid the world of evildoers.
The Light imagined by Wingard and his team is vastly different and it’s an alarming concern for fans of the original series. While some have argued that a new take on Death Note could be refreshing considering the manga has already received five feature-length adaptations, others are understandably worried about what this version will look like.
“This movie looks god-awful,” one fan commented on Reddit. “Why even call this movie Death Note when you take away absolutely everything that made DN what it is?”
They’re not the only person who thought along those lines following the trailer. A horde of fans on Twitter tweeted their own negative reactions, with some claiming that it could be the worst take on the manga yet.
Despite all of the negativity surrounding the trailer, however, there was one aspect that seemed to be universally acknowledged as a possible saving grace for the movie: Willem Dafoe’s portrayal of Ryuk, the death god.
Ever since Netflix released the first teaser for the movie back in March, Dafoe’s Ryuk has been a favorite. The new trailer, which gives fans a better look at the character, has also provided people with fresh aspects of the character to grasp onto, including his laugh.
Just like how Dafoe’s laugh was eerily perfect in Spider-Man when he played the Goblin, the same magical effect is brought to Ryuk. The consensus among fans seems to be that they’ll watch Death Note solely for Dafoe’s portrayal of Ryuk, effectively taking what seems to be the very bad with the good.
Death Note will be available to stream on Netflix on Aug. 25.