This will be interesting
by Nicole Pedersen
While The Book of Eli is not yet the runaway blockbuster that Warner Brothers may have hoped for, the studio is apparently satisfied enough with the film’s directors to offer them a crack at one of the most prized scripts on the WB development slate. According to Vulture, The Hughes Brothers have been tapped to direct the live-action adaptation of the manga-turned-anime-classic, Akira. You know, the one with the killer bikes? and the creepy kid? and the, oh hell… TETSUUOOOOOOOOOOO!!
Back in September, we told you that, despite the long lag in actionable-Akira info, Warner Brothers was still moving forward with their live-action version of Katsuhiro Otomo’s beloved manga masterpiece and that Children of Men and Iron Man screenwriters Hank Ostby and Mark Fergus were working on adapting the screenplay. Joseph Gordon Levitt had been tied to the proposed feature for months along with Leonardo DiCaprio, whose Appian Way company is also producing Akira.
After seeing the Hughes Brothers take on the apocalypse in The Book of Eli, it is easy to see why the directing duo would be front-runners for the Akira gig. The story takes place in an urban metropolis ruled by anarchy; where gangs, corporations and the military all operate, more or less, without moral boundaries - safe to say that the concept falls well within the Hughes’s wheelhouse.
But for Akira fans, the Hughes news was not even the most notable piece of the Vulture article. The blog also reports that, out of respect for the source material, Warner Brothers and Appian plan to make two Akira features instead of just one! The six part manga series will apparently be told over two features, with the three books compromising part one.
Otomo himself ended up trimming hundreds of pages off of his own manga in order to hit a two hour run-time for the original Akira feature, so the two-picture plan promises to deliver much more of the mind-bending weirdness that made Akira such a phenomenon 20 years ago. It’s either really great news or a terrible idea - depending on how you feel about Akira.
Neither the manga nor the anime are known for being particularly accessible or easy to follow - aside from those bike chases. A longer film could help make the whole Akira-verse more comprehensible which, trust me, would be a definite plus. One big negative, however, is that audiences may not care about an over-long adaptation of this anime - classic status notwithstanding.
The truth is that many people who are familiar with Akira have never actually watched the film. In this case stretching the story into two parts may be counting on an appreciation for source faithfulness that that does not yet exist. Overdosing on the details is risky. Just ask the Watchmen.