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Death Note Collection(2006)
A battle between the world's 2 greatest minds begins when Light Yagami finds the Death Note, a notebook with the power to kill, and decides to rid the world of criminals.
For more about Death Note Collection and the Death Note Collection Blu-ray release, see Death Note Collection Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on July 27, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Ken'ichi Matsuyama
Director: Shűsuke Kaneko
» See full cast & crew
Death Note Collection Blu-ray Review
Are these films to die for?
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, July 27, 2011
The Tibetans have that pesky Book of the Dead, the Jews inscribe everyone in the Book of Life annually in the period between Rosh Hoshana and Yom Kippur, but there's probably been nothing quite like the little booklet Japanese student Light (Tatsuya Fujiwara) comes across, which is emblazoned with the title Death Note. This booklet is very helpfully replete with instructions in its inside cover, instructions which give rather picayune directions indicating that within a certain framework of rules, anyone whose name is written in the book will die. Light soon becomes an avenging force, striking down criminals (and even those only accused of being criminals) from afar, in the process becoming a folk hero known as Kira and stymieing the police to the point where they bring in L (Ken'ichi Matsuyama), the world's greatest detective, to help track Light down. Death Note is a relatively new live action franchise based on a manga and anime (three films and counting, though only the first two are included in this compilation), and at its core it asks that question which often came out of supporting players' mouths in B-movies of yore, "Will you use your powers only for good, and not for evil?" Light seems to be on the side of, well, light, but Ryuk, the shinigami (death spirit) who dropped the book, thereby more or less giving it away to Light, warns the student that possessing the book will uncover dark layers of the soul. Live action adaptations of cartoons (and/or animes) aren't always the most compelling entertainments around, and Death Note may not satisfy purists who have been longtime fans of either the manga or anime forms of the project. But it's a decently constructed thriller with some interesting elements which help to maintain overall viewer interest even if some aspects of the film lag from time to time.
Both of the Death Note films feature such elaborate need for willing suspension of disbelief that they both can get silly pretty quickly. The first film especially stops and starts in lurches as various rules of the Death Notebook are posted on screen to explain what inexplicable thing just happened. It's like getting a primer in some arcane area of law, you know, one of those contracts with large Roman numerals, followed by letters, followed by small Roman numerals. The bottom line is Light can pretty much do away with anyone as long as he knows their name and what they look like (to avoid people with the same name being "incorrectly" killed). The really interesting thing about Death Note is how it posits the public's adoration of Light, known by his folk name of Kira, against the official police presence which is kind of upset someone is usurping their execution powers.
The good news about both Death Note films is that silliness is built into the premise due to the completely over the top shinigamis which haunt the films. Light's "personal" shinigami Ryuk is like a Goth Death God, replete with studded (and feathered) black leather apparel, a spike hairdo and a wicked laugh that has to be heard to be believed. Another, paler shinigami named Rem shows up in Death Note II: The Last Name, aiding a perky young television star named Misa Amane (Erika Toda) who becomes Light's assistant avenging angel, and some of the film's intentional comedy relief comes from the goofy behavior of both of these spirits.
On the other hand, too much of Death Note is overly contrived, keeping the film from being as exciting and suspenseful as it might otherwise be. The first Death Note is certainly better in this regard, especially due to the fact that it's structured quite ingeniously, with events unspooling, and then backtracking to reveal a number of twists along the way. But both films suffer from over plotting and just silly sidebars, as in the completely weird kind of quasi-torture porn of isolating Light and his winsome helper in isolation cells for weeks on end to determine if they're actually behind the killings. Also a fatal flaw (no pun intended) in terms of both films is how patently odd it is that the police are out to reign in a vigilante who is manifestly bringing down the crime rate, one heart attack at a time.
Both of these films probably would have benefited from some judicious cutting, especially Death Note II: The Last Name, which clocks in at close to two and a half hours. These are films that get by on a wing and a prayer and having too much time to actually think about the illogic can be detrimental to their overall enjoyment. Taken as slight entertainments, and especially within the confines of live action adaptations of manga and anime, both Death Notes are above average, spry pieces of filmmaking that offer a fun premise and just enough pretensions toward depth to give their characters at least fitful chances at lifeŚthat is until they die.
Death Note Collection Blu-ray, Video Quality
Both Death Note and Death Note II: The Last Name were filmed on digital video and arrive on Blu-ray with AVC encoded 1080p transfers in 1.78:1. Both films sport the shiny, surfaceless look of HD video, but that actually helps establish both films' slightly surreal feel. Director Shusuke Kaneko (of Gamera fame) filters a lot of the imagery here, liking desaturated tones that can deprive some darker interior shots from overwhelming amounts of detail. Death Note II: The Last Name has a bit more outdoor footage than the first film, and so benefits from a more natural lighting scheme, which can up the fine detail of at least certain sequences rather dramatically. But taken as a whole, both films are really amazingly sharp and well defined, albeit with often strange color skewing that paints flesh tones in a sickly yellow and incorporates a lot of blacks, grays and beiges in the backgrounds. No artifacting of any degree is noticeable throughout the films, though due to the darker lighting scheme (especially in the first film) and the desaturation in evidence, crush is noticeable in several scenes.
Death Note Collection Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Both Death Note films feature lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks in the original Japanese, as well as English dubs. Let me just state this up front and unequivocally: stay far, far away from the English dubs unless you are manifestly incapable of reading subtitles. While there's nothing inherently horrible about the actual voice work, there has been absolutely no attention paid to trying to match syllabification of the translations with mouth movements of the Japanese actors, and so you get that old bugaboo of English dialogue either stopping before the mouths finish moving, or even funnier, spilling over the allotted mouth movement time. The original Japanese tracks are very well done, will excellent fidelity and some really good surround effects. The second film adds a cool "thump" of LFE whenever any of the victims suffers a heart attack, making that track all the more robust. There are several very nicely handled panning effects when Ryuk especially darts across the screen with his manic laughter.
Death Note Collection Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Extras on the two Blu-ray discs include:
Death Note Collection Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Fans of the manga and anime versions of Death Note may have some passing qualms with some changes that were made for these live action adaptations, but overall the tone is remarkably consistent with the source projects. Neither of these films is any great masterpiece, but they're fun and entertaining, if both a bit on the long side. Having the ability to completely suspend disbelief is paramount to enjoying this films for their slight but often quite interesting pleasures. This Blu-ray compilation looks and sounds fantastic, and if you're a fan of the franchise, or simply curious, this release is Recommended.
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Death Note Collection Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Death Note Double Feature Blu-ray Announced - May 12, 2010
Warner Home Video has announced Death Note Collection for release on Blu-ray on August 24. This double feature consists of Death Note and Death Note: The Last Name, the two Japanese live-action films made in 2006 based on the manga series of the same title. It ...
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