As a Death Note fan, I was excited when a new film is green-lighted. It is only later when it is revealed as a sequel to Death Note: The last name. Though doubtful, I was still looking forward to see how the saga of Kira could be continued. Crafted as an original story, the first trailer looked intriguing. So how does the final product fare? Death Note: Light up the new world is a decent installment to the popular franchise, paying homage to the franchise. Although it is a sequel, it could easily be a stand-alone film with all the new characters. It may not match the standard of the first two films directed by Shusuke Kaneko but it is a step up from Hideo Nakata's L: Change the world.
The story: Set 10 years after Death Note: The last name, Shinsuke Sato (Director of Gantz) goes straight into the thrills as he opens with a killing rampage in Tokyo. He keeps the pace brisk without slowing down for character's development. The viewers will be thrust into the middle of the cat-and-mouse chase. I think it will be helpful to watch Death Note: New Generation, a mini-series that is the prequel to this. The new characters are interesting enough but nothing beats Light and L. The third act falls to Shinsuke's familiar territory. A thrilling chase followed by an action-packed climax with revelations. Some twists may be a little surprised but if you know Death Note, it wouldn't come off as a big surprise. Shinsuke directs with enough thrills to keep the film afloat. Acting is alright. The characters are fighting for their own screen time. None of the characters stand out. Even Ryuk, the iconic shinigami, has limited screen time. Music is throughout and adds to the thrills.
Overall: It may not hold a candle next to first two films in term of smartness and thrills but it is decent enough to warrant a watch. It is definitely not boring and the CGI has improved a lot. The CGI of the three shinigamis feel more realistic and organic. Is it worthy of being in the Death Note franchise? I would say a 'Yes'.
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See the preview below with English subtitles: