Friday, 14 November 2014

Neo-Tokyo in America? How bad can the Akira remake get?


In doing the research for our Akira podcast, I discovered that Hollywood was in the works to do a live action, Americanised remake. As soon as I read it, my heart sank at the thought of yet another horrendous American version, especially after witnessing the unnecessary sub-par remake of the Korean classic Oldboy

The origins of the live action version goes back to 2002, when Warner Bros. brought the rights to the film, and in 2008 it was revealed that Leonardo di Caprio would be one of the producers, as well as one of the stars, along with Joseph Gorden-Levitt (of who's image is quite distinct in some of the initial artwork). Subsiquently, actors such as Zac Efron, Justin Timberlake, Chris Pine and James Franco where rumoured to be attached, but as of yet nothing is set in concrete. Even Keanu Reeves was offered the role of Kaneda - strange, as they where offering the part of a 15 year old delinquent to a man who was 47 at the time.


And this is where you start thinking, do they even know what they're adapting? More doubts rise when you read the opinions of the currently attached director, Jaume Collet-Serra (of Orphan, House of Wax and Non-Stop), whose been linked with the film since 2011:

"I hope that I can bring strong characters. In the original source material, I don't think the main characters are the protagonists. What I'm hoping is to bring characters... Nobody's interesting. Tetsuo's interesting because weird shit happens to him, and Kaneda is so two-dimensional. That's part of the Japanese culture, they never have strong characters. They're used as a way to move the other philosophy forward."

- Exclusive: Director Jaume Collet-Serra Dishes His Vision for Akira, February 10 2014

Err, excuse me? How can you be so critical of the source material that you've spent years developing? And to outright say that the Japanese can't do protagonists? It's an insult to put someone in charge of a project who has no respect for the original anime and manga, especially when that anime is so loved by people around the world. And what's wrong with philosophical films?

Earlier on in the interview, Collet-Serra said "I think you cannot make a movie about Akira and hope that everyone understands it. Like everything else, you have to make three or four movies in one where there's the essence somewhere."

Three or four movies? Oh jesus, they're not hoping to horribly bloat out this story are they? "Like everything else", is this the latest trend? Just because it works for Marvel doesn't mean its going to work for Akira. Is it impossible to develop an interesting, intelligent film within two or three hours like, I don't know, the original Otomo film?

From the whitewashing of the cast, the rediculous casting, to the nonchalant and irresponsible director they have lined up, this whole set up seems like a sham. Nobody seems to have a proper grip on it, and seems only to be a cash grab on the success of one of histories most famous anime's. The end result may very well be a horrible, lacklustre effort, rushed out to cover the costs they've already spent.

Bad remakes only go to prove the ignorance of the filmmakers. Films cannot help but be about the country they are made in, whether its a loving homage or a criticism, and so to say that you can do it better, or that the audience can't understand the film because it is foreign, insults the orginal country and the audience.

An Akira remake could be amazing, but it needs all the love and respect that Otomo put into his original masterpiece, and not just a presumption that a Western perspective will make it better.

You can listen to Richee's Virgin Viewings of Akira in the player below, and don't forget that you can subscribe to us on itunes too,



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