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Good live action adaptation
on September 25, 2010
It would have been impossible to condense all of the rich detail and psychological drama from the manga and anime versions of Death Note into these two live-action films, so this is an adaptation rather than a remake. But given the constraints of the medium, the filmmakers did a great job, making an entertaining pair of bookends that tells the story of the Death Note - an object that provides its user with the power to kill with the stroke of a pen - and the fall from grace of Light Yagami, an earnest and dedicated student and son who develops megalomaniacal tendencies as soon as the book falls into his possession.
This Blu-Ray transfer is good; the movies have already been released on DVD, but obviously if you want top quality, this is the way to go. Audio transfer is excellent, and Japanese and dubbed English dialogue soundtracks are included. The voice acting for the English dub is much better than average; the producers used the same voice actors who dubbed the anime, so they're intimately familiar with the stories and characters.
The production quality itself was quite good too. The actors who portray Light and his nemesis, the quirky detective known as L, are astonishingly close to their anime/manga counterparts, and it's a special treat to see Takeshi Kaga (best known to Japanophile Americans as "Chairman Kaga" in the original "Iron Chef" show) as Light's father. The CGI used to create Ryuk and Rem, the two shinigami - death gods who are so central to the storyline - is effective although perhaps a bit lacking the sort of polish you'd expect from an high-budget Hollywood production.
Special features document the making of the two movies.