Huh. What a difference half a year and change makes.
Last June, Bloody Disgusting ran an exclusive stating that Warner Brothers and producer Leonardo DiCaprio’s planned live-action remake of the classic anime “Akira” was “dead as a doornail.”
However, just as in comic-books and soap operas, when it comes to potentially lucrative Hollywood ventures, death tends to only come in the form of short-term inconveniences. So, depending on where you stand on the issue, today’s news will probably either thrill you or inspire bitter resentment.
Fresh off the modest success of “The Book of Eli,” Warner Bros. has tapped Albert and Allen Hughes to helm the newly-resurrected project. According to Vulture, the brothers will be working from a script by “Iron Man” scribes Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby — who apparently took over screenplay duties from, oddly enough, “Book of Eli” writer Gary Whitta.
The story also reveals that this adaptation will likely take the form of two full-length motion pictures, as the original graphic novel source material is more than 2,000 pages long and the beloved 1982 anime film version’s narrative is apparently rather sloppy and convoluted due to the extreme amount of compression. So, in order to be respectful, the studio is aiming to double their gamble — a decision that could prove either foolhardy or genius depending on audience reception. While the article doesn’t make clear whether the Hughes brothers will be helming both features, or just the first installment, my money would be on the former.
While I haven’t yet read or viewed “Akira,” I’ve heard nothing but rapturous praise for it, which means that the fan-base might be a tad tricky to please. I just hope that the studio doesn’t take the obvious cop-out and cast Caucasian actors instead of Asians in the key roles purely for marketing reasons. M. Night Shyamalan’s forthcoming “The Last Airbender” already pulled that shameful stunt — to much consternation from the press and fans — and it seem doubly unwise to court the same unnecessary controversy again.
I am excited to see the Hughes brothers continuing to get work, though. They have real style and attitude and, with the right material, could really solidify themselves as top tier directors of intelligent, gutsy spectacle. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if “Akira” ultimately ends up working in their favor.
For those as equally inexperienced in the world of “Akira” as myself, I’ve attached the trailer for the Katsuhiro Otomo-directed 1982 version for educational purposes:
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Follow Cam Smith on Twitter at http://twitter.com/camspcepisodes.