There’s been an overall negative reaction to the news that Warner Bros. is developing an Americanized, live-action adaptation of the cult Japanese comic book Akira, and early impressions of the script were fairly mixed as well.
Variety is reporting that Kloves will be the fifth screenwriter involved in crafting the script for Akira, which will be directed by the Hughes Brothers. The first draft was penned by Iron Man/Cowboys & Aliens scribers Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, before the Hughes’ Book of Eli screenwriter, Gary Whitta, took a stab at the script. Albert Torres (whose sole writing credit is for the indie dramedy Henry Poole is Here) was responsible for the Akira screenplay in its current form.
While most of these fellows have a solid background in developing action-packed sci-fi lore, it seems that the act of turning Katsuhiro Otomo’s original story into a strong Hollywood tentpole pic is one trick that’s not yet been mastered. Enter Kloves, who was saddled with the task of translating J.K. Rowling’s dense Harry Potter text into film, and did an increasingly good job of it with each subsequent movie – though it stands to mention that he didn’t write the screenplay for the fifth flick (which is a plus in a lot of Potter fans’ minds).
If there’s one thing that Kloves seemed to pick up on with the later Harry Potter movies, it’s that strong liberties must sometimes be taken with the source material – especially when you’re adapting literature to the film medium. That approach is arguably similar to what is needed in order for the Americanized Akira to work. Granted, Otomo’s graphic novel was turned into a hand-drawn film back in 1988 (and that’s probably the version most of you readers are familiar with), but it’s not unfair that say that Japanese animation and Hollywood action blockbusters are different kinds of beast.
It’s been a rough week for Akira, what with Mila Kunis and James Franco passing on the project to go join Oz, the Great and Powerful, but a thorough retooling of the script by Kloves could be the ticket to convincing other big names to sign on instead. That still doesn’t guarantee that the film won’t turn out to be a dud when all is said and done, but it’s a start.
We’ll keep you posted on the development of Akira, including when production might be getting underway, as more information is released.