The Akira Project

Akira_explosionKatsuhiro Otomo’s Akira is hailed by manga and comics fans alike as being one of the best graphic novels of all time. Similarly, the film adaptation, which was also written and directed by Otomo, is considered a premier example of anime and the cyberpunk genre – one that has remained a cult classic to this day. In spite of that, no one has been able to create a live-action version in the almost three decades since it was released.

That’s where the Akira Project comes in. This non-profit, crowdsourced group launched their Indiegogo campaign in July 2012 with the intention of financing a live-action version of the film that was as true to the original material as possible. After spending three days shooting on location in Montreal, Quebec (go Habs!) and a year and a half in post production, and with the help of some 40 artists in 12 countries, they have finally released their version of a live-action trailer (seen below).

In addition to wanting to see a film adaptation that does Akira justice, this project is also a response to Hollywood’s abortive attempts to create their own adaptation of Akira. These began in 2002, when Warner Bros. declared that they had acquired the rights to the franchise. However, since that time, there has been a constant stream of news that indicate that the people meant to write, direct, produce and even star in the film keep changing.

akira_club03For example, from 2008 to 2011, it was rumored that the leading roles would be filled by either Leonardo DiCaprio, Zac Efron, James Franco, Keanu Reeves, Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Justin Timberlake, Joaquin Phoenix, and Chris Pine have all been said to be the front runners for the lead role of Kaneda at one time or another, while Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were all said to be considered for the role of Tetsuo Shima.

The names of those meant to director this film have also changed repeatedly. Initially, it was said that Stephen Norrington was on deck to direct, but in 2008, Ruairí Robinson was said to be the new front runner. In 2010, Warner Bros. was said to be in talks with Allen and Albert Hughes, but Lazar announced that summer that just Albert would directing. Most recently, Jaume Collet-Serra was said to be committed to the movie.

268170-akira06_superThe only name to stick to this project since 2008 is Andrew Lazar, who is committed to producing it. On top of all that, fans of the franchise have also been frustrated by apparent indications that the live-action Hollywood remake will be set in New York rather than Neo-Tokyo. This, combined with Collet-Serra’s apparent dislike for the original characters, has led to concerns that the movie that might result will be a bastardized, Americanized-version of the story that bears little resemblance to the kick-ass original.

Hence the Akira Project’s stated goal of being true to the original, as well as dedicated to making it happen. I tell ya, its a cool time to be alive when fans don’t have to wait for the major studios to get their heads out of their asses, and can make things happen on their own. For more information on this group and its progress, just head on over to the Akira Project website. And in the meantime, enjoy the kick-ass trailer:

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Star Wars News!

at_at_cloudThat look like an AT-AT to you? The Star Wars geek in me earns to think that this sort of manifestation is some kind of indication that there is good news, vis a vis Star Wars upcoming sequels. But the realist in me thinks it’s just photoshop. Who knows? The important thing is, in the weeks leading up to the end of 2012, there were some rather interesting flashes on the news circuit regarding Disney’s recent acquisition.

For starters, there was one development with regards to all the talk about who would direct the next installment in the Star Wars saga. J.J. Abrams, who was rumored to be a top contender, recently admitted in an interview with Empire Magazine that the rumors were true. It seemed that Disney approached him shortly after the merger took place, but he was quick to turn them down:

“There were the very early conversations and I quickly said that because of my loyalty to Star Trek, and also just being a fan, I wouldn’t even want to be involved in the next version of those things. I declined any involvement very early on. I’d rather be in the audience not knowing what was coming, rather than being involved in the minutiae of making them.”

Makes sense. Star Wars and Star Trek are two distinct franchises, and never are the twain supposed to meet, except at ComicCon and tributes to George Lucas (apparently).

starwarsIn addition, there has been some news as to who is slated to write it. And in this respect, it seems that Michael Arndt, the writer who brought us Little Miss Sunshine, will be taking the helm. Yeah, you might say what do stories about family, dysfunction, and coming together in spite of it all have to do with Star Wars?

Hello, people! Look at Luke and Vader! A father who turned evil and then tried to convert/kill his own son. And let’s not forget Han, Chewy Leia, Lando and the droids. Han and Leia used to hate each other, then they had a weird triangle involving her brother! Ick! But then, in spite of that, they fell in love. Oh, and Han hates C3P0, Lando betrayed Han, and Chewy tried to pull Lando’s head off on more than one occasion. On top of all that, they’ve been arrested numerous times, and Han and Lando clearly have a gambling problem.

Throw in some alcoholism and a visit to the Jerry Springer show, and you’ve got the perfect dysfunctional family! And yet, the family works, and even wins wars! And on a more serious note, Arndt is a great writer, as anyone who has seen Little Miss Sunshine can certainly attest. And great writers are great writers, regardless of the genre. And since it seems he harbors a serious love for Star Wars, I’m sure he can be counted on to bring give A game and inject it with some serious passion.

No word yet on who will be cast in the roles of the main characters, but rumors abound. Mark Hamil was an early signee, but whether or not he will be reprising the role of Luke Skywalker is unclear at this time. There’s no telling how far into the future the sequels will be, and depending on that, Hamil may need to be recast in order to avoid any questions of aging poorly! However, some more creative suggestions were made, particularly by the good folks at Geek Tyrant.

Luke-Skywalker-Hamill-YelchinFor example, it was said that if Hamil wouldn’t be cast as Luke this time around, that the role would be ably filled by Anton Yelchin – the 23 year old who rose to fame playing the young Kyle Reese in Terminator: Salvation and Pavel Chekov in J.J. Abrams Star Trek.

Captain-MalSuggestions for Han Solo range from Chris Pine – Captain Kirk in (again) Abrams Star Trek – to Garrett Hedlund from Tron: Legacy and Nathan Fillion from Firely, Serenity and Castle. Do I even need to say it? Fillion for the win, people! He’s already played Solo in the form of Mal, the scoundrel Captain and smuggler with a heart of gold. He would be perfect for the role with his characteristic mix of wit, charm, occasionally seriousness, and general badassery.

anne-hathaway_17Mae Whitman and Anne Hathaway have both been suggested for the role of Princess Leia Organa Solo (yes, they eventually get married), who at this point in the story has gone from Rebel agent to a Senator of the New Republic. Personally, I think Hathaway would be the better choice for the role, for she has some experience capturing Leia’s combination of regality and ass-kicker. She’s also had plenty of experience playing the love interest of many a man in Hollywood cinema.

As for the rest, speculation certainly abounds and will continue to abound for some time. Depending again on when the new movies are to take place, relative to the original storyline, there’s any number of spots they need to cast for. Stay tuned, as I plan to be in the know when things begin to break!

Source: Geek Tyrant, IO9, (2),