Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Akira (Remake) - Script Review

Another Remake: Akira
The Verdict:
Condensing and remaking the story only leaves us with a highly visual movie, without an engaging plot or interesting characters to care for.

What's it about?
A young biker gang member gains uncontrollable psychic power and has to be stopped by his friends and the army.

Plot Summary:
Teaser: An explosions shatters Manhatten, in the crater stands a boy. Colonol Shackleton orders to put Subject 28 and the others into cryo-stasis. 
A text informs us, that Manhattan was sold to Japan, as the US hits a deep recession, following the total destruction of New York.

Meet Travis, orphaned, 11, on his first day of school: He gets bullied and befriends Kaneda, 14, who protects him.
10 years later, New Tokyo has risen on Manhatten. We meet the two again at a Bar, they established a biker gang (the Red devils); After a reckless Stunt, injuring his girlfriend Kaori, Travis goes to a 'mobile rehab van' by Vanguard, as he fears he will do drugs again. He has to wear an electronic band, but is promised to stay clean.

Soon after, Travis, while attacking a rival gang member, runs into Thomas, a little boy looking like an old man and is badly hurt. This strange child is escorted by Kay, who is arrested together with Kaneda, while Thomas is brought into a care facility by Shackleton. Kay and Kaneda are released, while Travis is in a hospital, completely healed already. He escapes, before Shackleton, who is informed that Travis' blood contains the mysterious Compound-A, arrives to get him. But later he gets him, when Travis is hidden away by Kaneda and Kay. So the group breaks into the facility to rescue Travis, who slowly discovers his unimaginable powers rips apart the whole facility. Only three other test subjects can stop him, but not kill him. Finally Shackleton finds out, that the 'mobile rehab' project injected Travis with the Compound, in order to restore America to it's old glory, but decides not to do anything about and continues hunting down Travis. 

Travis reaches the Crater, trying to free Akira, aka Subject 28, who was responsible for the first explosion. Kaneda, Kay and Shackleton try everything in their power to stop him, attacking him with tanks, lasers, solar beams, but only hurt Travis. But when he sees his girlfriend getting killed by bullet, meant for him, Travis goes totally insane and explodes. Shackleton, Kaneda and Kay can escape on board a helicopter in the last second and see New Tokyo falling to ashes. 

Final Image: Akira awakens, steps out of his Cyro-Chamber and Travis bows down before him...

First off, of all the script I ever read, this was the most exhausting one. Walls of text littered over the pages, describing the action in so many details, it was like reading a novel. 

The visual detail and  ideas were astonishing. Whitta develops an interesting American-Japanese Hybrid-Culture, painting the co-existence of extreme poverty and wealth in grand pictures.

I don't like it, when the story is just happening to the characters, without them ever taking charge or making their own decisions. Unfortunately, it was like this in this script: Travis gets injected with Compound-A, gains uncontrollable power and runs amok. He isn't the active protagonist once throughout the whole script. I feel cheated and - to be honest - bored, when this happens.

The emotional angle was heavily underplayed, in my opinion. The friendship between Travis and Kaneda should come to a fulminant finale, but it fell flat. The script spends too much time with military personnel and the mythology, but forgot the characters at the heart of the story.

Differences to the 1988 Movie:
Names: Tetsuo = Travis; Takashi = Thomas; Kei = Kay; Shikishima = Shackleton; and so on...
The script adds a little bit of background to Akira's first explosion, explaining why New Tokyo is build on americal soil, but adds nothing significant new or exciting to the story.
The most radical change concerns the ending: Planned as the first part of a larger series (possibly a trilogy...) the movie ends shortly after Akira awakens and leaves most plot points hanging.

The Project:
The script is based on the Manga by Katsuhiro Otomo from the year 1982. A hugely popular anime version of that movie was released in 1988. Shortly after that Warner Brothers bought the live-action rights, but nothing happened for the next 20 years. In 2008, Leonardo DiCaprio was set to produce a live-action adaptation with this script. In February 2010 the Hughes Brothers (From Hell) took over the Director's chair, but left it again in May 2011.
The following month Jaume Collet-Serra (of 'Unknown') was announced as the new director, with the hopes to realize this movie with the modest budget of 90 million dollars. (Source: FilmJunk)
The biggest concern of the studio is to find a suitable actor: many stars were offered the role, namely Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Franco, Zac Efron, Andrew Garfield, James McAvoy or Michael Fassbender, but nobody has signed up so far. Apparently the strongest contender for the role of Kaneda is Garrett Hedlund, the lead of Tron:Legacy. (Source: Movie|Line)
Gary Oldman is in talks to play Colonel Shackleton, while Helena Bonham-Carter is wanted to play Lady Miyako, another test subject and only a small role. (Source: TwitchFilm)

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