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‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ Director Shane Black to Helm New Live Action ‘Death Note’ Movie

It looks like Tsugumi Ohba and artist Takeshi Obata’s Death Note is headed for the silver screen… again. The arguably good news is that, according to Deadline, the project is in the hands of director Shane Black. Despite the possibility that fans of the 12-volume manga, its 37-episode anime and three Japanese live action films (Death Note, Death Note: The Last Name and L: Change the World) may have already gotten their fill of the supernatural psychological thriller circa 2005-2010, Black is certainly an interesting choice for a more Americanized version. The dude wrote Lethal Weapon, starred in Predator and directed Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. I’m not sure that pedigree superficially synchs up with the conventional aesthetic and tone of DN, but geez Louise, let’s see what this guy does with it.

Black certainly seems legit so far:

“It’s my favorite manga, I was just struck by its unique and brilliant sensibility,” Black said. “What we want to do is take it back to that manga, and make it closer to what is so complex and truthful about the spirituality of the story, versus taking the concept and trying to copy it as an American thriller. Jeff Robinov and Greg Silverman liked that.”

Death Note follows genius highschool student Light Yagami who comes across a shinigami’s (death god/spirit) “Death Note” notebook, which kills any human whose name is written in its pages. Over the course of the story Light begins to strike down criminals at a rate that attracts the attention of International Police Organization, which sets off an elaborate cat-and-mouse game.

Even slightly “Americanizing” the story probably wouldn’t corrupt the source material too much given its already international feel, but there’d probably be backlash if shinigami were renamed “reapers” and redesigned to look like Betty White or something. Still, a lot of fans probably wouldn’t mind sticking to what worked with the Japanese films and just beefing up the budget to include more advanced CGI and on-location shoots.

No word on a potential release date yet, but at this rate, I wouldn’t expect anything before 2012.

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