The fall of our economy has been hard on everyone, including Hollywood, California, that magical place where even the litter is diamond-encrusted. It’s hard to believe, but big-budget studios have taken a pretty noticeable hit in recent years, and revenue continues to fall each year. It always helps to look for the good in bad situations and that’s just what this story is all about.
It looks like Warner Bros. has hit the brakes on Jaume Collet-Serra‘s upcoming adaptation of Akira while they make one last negotiation to work out the on-going budgetary and casting issues that have been plaguing production from the start. The Hollywood Reporter says that a call has been made requesting that the entire crew and production crew drop everything they’re working on until further notice. As one insider put it, “everyone has been sent home.”
This would be great news for Akira fans like myself. I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m not a fan of the way the remake was going. Besides some questionable casting decisions and storyline changes, Akira just doesn’t seem like it’s doable in live-action; anime, as you probably know, can go to some pretty wild places from time to time and Akira‘s subject matter requires an extensively realized cyber-punk world. I imagine lowering the budget would make this challenge even more difficult.
In a huge vomit inducing report, Keanu Reeves is in talks with the studio bringing us Akira to play one of the main characters. I wasn’t crazy about the front runners to play Kaneda and Tetsuo before, but Keanu Reeves? And now it takes place in Neo Manhattan instead of Neo Tokyo? Jeez, why not just call his character Kevin and call the movie a U.S. equivalent of Akira? Adam perhaps, or Alex. Why does it need to have anything to do with Akira when it’s the complete opposite of everything but the plot. And I’m willing to bet that the plot will be warped somehow too.
It appears time for the Akira live action movie to be moving ahead, with SuperHero Hype’s report of the front-runners for the two main characters; Kaneda and Tetsuo. The villain of the story is Tetsuo, a young man with a big chip on his shoulder who begins to manifest immense psychic powers, and then use them with extreme prejudice. This guy was a total psycho in the animated movie and equally so in the graphic novels that movie was based on. He was a part of the same biker gang as his friend and rival of sorts, Kaneda. Kaneda is a bit of a jackass, but he’s a loveable jackass and the closest thing we get to a hero.
That being said let’s have a look at the contenders for the role of Tetsuo. It’s between Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy. Right off the bat I need to discount McAvoy because he seems a little too old for the role. If they’re following the story of the graphic novel, the two characters are teenagers and McAvoy is about to hit 32 in a month.
Maybe they’re going a different direction with the characters’ ages, but if not I don’t see a 32-year-old guy playing a kid still in a “home for boys”. This leaves Pattinson and Garfield. I think either one of them could pull it off, but it would be more refreshing to see Garfield in the role than having the Twilight star Pattinson thrown in our faces once again. If you can’t tell I’m a little burned out on Twilight.
On the Kaneda side of things we have a few more options. Up for the role are Garret Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake, and Joaquin Phoenix. I’m going to immediately discount Phoenix because of his age, and the fact that his moronic shenanigans over the past two years made me care less and less about him ever being in another movie. Fassbender, like McAvoy, is too old though it would be interesting to see them both in the roles of hero and villain this time in reverse. In case you haven’t heard Fassbender and McAvoy are both in X-men: First Class this year, starring as Magneto and Charles Xavier respectively.
Justin Timberlake: No. That’s all I can say about that one.
The role of Kaneda for me boils down to either Garrett Hedlund or Chris Pine.
They both have experience playing the troublesome, act without thinking young gun type. Pine’s James T. Kirk persona from the excellent Star Trek reboot is almost exactly how Kaneda acts in the Akira animated movie and graphic novel; overconfident, quick thinking and totally unable to impress the girl with his bravado. Garrett Hedlund played the mischievous young motorcyclist in the recent Tron: Legacy, and the light cycle he tore it up on definitely had a likeness to the bike Kaneda rides in Akira.
What other credentials do ya need? I really enjoy both actors and would be happy with either one, but I tend to lean toward Chris Pine on this one. He has the sort of charisma and humor needed to play Kaneda. And he rode a motorcycle in Star Trek and that’s the most important thing… right?
In case you didn’t notice, none of the actors are Asian like their character’s namesakes, but I’m trying to look past that. I’ll be satisfied as long as they yell one and others name as they try to kill each other. (Watch the Akira animated movie for more on that.)
I hope this movie is done right, because being based off of the six graphic novels it’s going to need at least two or three movies to do the story justice. I’d recommend the Akira animated movie and graphic novels to anyone who is a fan of sci-fi or cyber punk stories. The graphic novels are definitely better than the movie, but it’s still quite a ride either way.