"Death Note" would have been a very strange Shane Black movie.
That alone seems like a reason to have been excited about the possibility of seeing it, but in the grand scheme of things, it seems like a better fit for Shane Black to move on to a new "Predator" movie.
Besides, the notion of seeing Gus Van Sant direct a new take on this highly-acclaimed and very strange title is fairly provocative in a different way, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited to see what he does with it.
The original manga series was by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, and it tells the story of a high school student who finds a notebook that grants whoever owns it the ability to kill anyone simply by writing their name in the notebook. By using it, he draws the attention of the Shinigami, a disturbing race of inter-dimensional death gods.
The student, named Light in the original version, decides to use the notebook to kill bad people and create a perfect world, but that ends up bringing him to the attention of a detective who is determined to catch whoever is behind this wave of strange supernatural deaths. It's a simple set-up, but an incredibly complicated series that spans several years in the manga. There was an anime adaptation in 2006, and that was followed by a two hour film, then a number of other other specials, and then a series of live-action fins, including one directed by Hideo Nakata.
Warner Bros. initially hired Charley and Vlas Parlapanides to adapt the property, and their script wasn't bad. I thought the Shane Black drafts by Anthony Bagarozzi and Charles Mondry were also very close to getting it right, but Black evidently butted heads with the studio over what parts of the complicated mythology they were going to use in the film.
Van Sant has dabbled with the dark side in projects like his infamous "Psycho" remake, "To Die For," and "Paranoid Park," and his film "Restless" exhibited a very gentle approach to the supernatural. I think Van Sant is most interesting here because he's not a guy who you would automatically attach to this. Whatever his approach to the material is going to be, it won't be what we expect, and that automatically makes it interesting.
No word yet when they plan to make or release the film, but we'll keep you posted. In exchange, please don't write "HitFix" in any cursed notebooks. Thanks.