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Hideo Nakata's L: Change the World has had a healthy life on the festival circuit, and has recently been released on Region 3 DVD. L is a sequel to the popular Death Note series, which explains why the film might be a popular programming choice. On an overall level, however, it is somewhat difficult to see the appeal of L: Change the World to anyone beyond young people, and hardcore fans of the original films and the manga upon which it is based.

L, a young detective with a superhuman intellect, writes his name in the Death Note book. Before his time on Earth expires, he is called upon to save the world from a deadly virus. In doing so, he assists two children: a math whiz, whose village was wiped out by a man-made virus, and a girl, whose father was killed by eco-terrorists. As suggested by the plot, the antagonists and protagonists in this film are all broadly drawn, and include benevolent father figures, innocent kids, a scar faced bad guy and a stern evil female scientist. L, who is played by Ken'ichi Matsuyama, is a young ball of quirks whose superior logic skills are only surpassed by his introverted affectation and junk food fetish. These traits are completely true to the character, but in this film, the character's idiosyncrasies seem more distracting then anything else.

L: Change the World's mix of a standard eco-thriller plot with broad characters and an extraordinary introvert seems geared towards a younger audience. Both the film's violence and the Lenny Kravitz song that runs over the end credits, however, suggests the intended audience was a bit broader. Regardless, L: Change the World has its advocates but one wonders whether this enthusiasm arises from the film itself, as opposed to its relationship to the broader Death Note phenomenon.

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More about L: Change the World

Tuan JimAugust 18, 2008 8:40 AM

It's no prequel - at least not for the movies (not sure about manga/anime) - this one comes squarely after the first two movies and even has bits of the first two movies - or reshot scenes - interspersed at the beginning to establish the setting.

That said, like the first two movies (and like some other Japanese films I've seen recently), it's a little hard to place - the budget doesn't seem especially large -- more like a DTV film in the US -- as evidenced by some of the CGI, but other parts of it do look appropriately cinematic and the acting isn't that bad. It's definitely entertaining enough (at least for what I paid for the R3 HK dvd), but the puzzle in this one was disappointingly obscure IMO and might have been better presented for all the "obvious" clues that were given.

Rodney PerkinsAugust 18, 2008 11:20 AM

Thanks for the correction re: prequel/sequel status.