Akira is a movie about telekinetic kids living in Tokyo, Japan who don’t know they have telekinesis until one of them has his powers unlocked by a government experiment. The movie has become popularized over the years for its brisk animation and grisly violence. Whether you were a fan of the animated film or not, Hollywood has penned the property for a live-action theatrical release with names like Garret Hedlund and Kristen Stewart rumored for the starring roles, according to Cinema Blend.
Fans of the original Japanese animated movie, Akira, from director Katsuhiro Ohtomo, probably aren’t thrilled about the Americanized, live-action adaptation of the anime that’s being produced over at Warner Bros Studios. The movie has hit more than a few production snubs since it’s been green lit by the studio heads, and just recently it almost found itself on the chopping block for being cancelled altogether if they don’t get the budget in order.
Nevertheless, it looks like Akira, the live-action American version of the cult-classic anime will happen sooner or later. But that doesn’t mean the movie has to fail. There are a few things the studio can do to ensure that the live-action version can be as iconic as its anime counterpart and more importantly, here is a list of things to keep the movie from sucking.
No. 1: Lower The Budget
Budget concerns have been a problem for this movie from the get-go but the movie doesn’t even need a $90 million dollar budget to be good. Heck, this movie could literally get away with being a grungy, future-punk biker movie for around $35 million and it could work. Heck, just look at District 9, according to the L.A. Times the movie was made for far less than something like Transformers but still packed a punch when it came to story, visual effects and action. With a moderate budget and cost effective, slick production efforts Akira could pull off a District 9, proving you don’t need a bloated budget to make a profound, cult-classic masterpiece.
No. 2: Practical Effects Over CGI
A lot of times movie studios seem to think that loading a movie up with poor CGI makes the movie bigger and better, even though that’s not always true. Sometimes well done practical effects can help sell a movie a lot more than overt uses of CGI. For instance, Children of Men director Alfonso Cuarón sold a great vision of a concrete warzone in Children of Men using plenty of squibs and non-CGI effects, which gave the movie a dense feeling of realism. If Akira director Jaume Collet-Serra can reel in the movie with gritty and believable use of practical effects as opposed to allowing the movie to get heavy laden with CGI, then Akira could really benefit from that decision.
No. 3: Contained Story Scope
One of the bigger plagues of a big budget movie adaptation is that oftentimes they have a story that’s too big for their own good. Oftentimes the blockbuster movie-story has predictable plot elements that prevents it from exceeding anything more than being a standard popcorn fun-fare where you leave your brain at the door and bring in bucket loads of suspended disbelief. Instead, Akira could keep the story contained within a limited scope like Walter Hill’s The Warriors, focusing more on the characters and the relationships that are bonded through tragic events, as opposed to trying to make a sprawling story span the likes of a 90-minute blockbuster adventure.
No. 4: Unpredictable Characters
One of the biggest complaints in the community about the Akira live-action remake — other than the fact that it’s a live-action remake of a cult-classic anime — is that the characters are being Americanized. There’s nothing that can really be done about Americans playing famous fictional Japanese characters, however they can do something completely different with the character archetypes. There’s too much predictability using old formulas. Not only will fans of Ohtomo’s animated vision turn out to be disappointed if the live-action version is chock-full of clichéd characters, but those who have never seen or read anything about Akira will probably find dumbed-down characters very trite. Maybe mixing up the way the character roles play out and toss in a few plot twists for some of the characters will actually give Akira some legs to stand on in the long run as a competent, sci-fi, futuristic action thriller.
No. 5: Substance Over Style
It seems like it’s so easy in this day and age for Hollywood to throw together a really stylistic character-driven movie like Buranku, 300 or Sucker Punch. However, Akira has the chance to break through the mold of being just another PG-13 sci-fi cash-in job. If the producers and director are serious about making a competent live-action adaptation it would only service movie-goers to go the high-road, similar to Christopher Nolan’s vision of Batman or George Miller’s Mad Max series. It’s not a definitive way to save the movie but it just might help.