Akira vs Oldboy Remakes - Which Is The Lesser Of Two Evils?
We ponder why the incest-riddled Korean masterpiece along with the extremely violent idolised anime are trundling along the remake path at a suddenly very frightening speed and which one might turn out the best.
There is no such thing as sacred anymore. To suggest that any film is inviolable in the modern era is unfortunately not the case, remakes are omnipresent. I completely understand why studios endure the lack of creativity insults thrown at them and Hollywood as a whole. Money. A big budget film failing can deal a killer blow to any studio; turning to a ready made fanbase enables them to pretty much ensure a success. Even the fans who are so disgusted at the idea of a remake buy a ticket just to confirm they were right. I know this because I bought a ticket to Let Me In. It is the exact same reason that every half decent young-adult novel with good sales is being adapted. OldBoy and Akira respectively are held in extremely high regard, both with very niche fan bases and a penchant for extreme violence, at first glance theyre hardly Hollywood friendly. And so Im sat here pondering why the incest-riddled Korean masterpiece along with the extremely violent idolised anime are trundling along the remake path at a suddenly very frightening speed. With this in mind I thought it would be interesting to see which one appears to be the lesser of two evils. I know, I know, they should both be banished to Hollywoods version of remake hell along with the mooted Escape from New York, Carpenter has suffered enough. A daunting prospect I know, but here goes.
The ConceptionOldboy When the Oldboy remake was first announced it probably could not have received a more sterile retort. Many proclaimed Hollywood evil once more, a vicious entity that was only out for mere capital gain. Fans did not want to accept it, and as one myself I was bewildered at the choice. I mean Hollywood Incest, really? But then an announcement, Steven Spielberg was attached to direct and helm the ship. Interesting, not necessarily in a good way, but interesting all the same. Then aboard came Will Smith. I had no idea what to make of it. I pictured the hammer scene except, the hammer was inflatable and the guards he was fighting had morphed into Indiana Jones style CGI gophers, completed by the whack-a-mole sound. Neither the director nor the actor seemed to fit the roles, and together they felt awkward, circular pegs trying to fit into a square hole. It even got to the point where Smith was openly discussing the films conception with the usual fake nonsense this isnt a remake of the film; were adapting the comics the film was adapted from. Eventually word came through that the project was dead, but in an industry where zombies can exist, nothing is ever dead. So on came the I Am Legend writer Mark Protosevich (God help us), and the project was alive once more. Word then came from Smith that the remake will focus upon adapting the comic book series rather than looking at the film. I call this the Ridley, a way of avoiding condemnation from the originals fans while still maintaining some form of association as to make sure they buy a ticket. Still look how that turned out for the 70 year old Scott, Prometheus is one of the most highly anticipated films of next year, just dont call it a prequel. Still Smiths words were somewhat fruitless as he and Spielberg soon dropped out to be replaced by Ill get to that later. Akira In 2002 news broke that Warner Bros. had just acquired the rights to one of the most popular Anime creations of all time, fans gritted their teeth, and it was Akira. The beloved 1988 Cyberpunk adaptation had been taken from its Asian roots and placed into the hands of Hollywood. No longer would we look on Neo-Tokyo and the manipulation of the body as an allegory for Hiroshima, instead the action was moved to Neo-Manhattan with no doubt allegorical links to 9/11 evaporating from the screen. The film would no longer be anime, I know, I know, how in the hell are they going to recreate THAT ending. CGI I assume, 3D CGI if I can assume further. The shining light for many years after the depressing announcement was the involvement of Leonardo DiCaprio. Nobody could determine whether or not he was just a producer overseeing the remake or the star of the film, nobody cared, it was Leo and thus a sense of credibility rose from the ashes. That was until the rumour mill started churning out perspective Directors.
The DirectorOldboy Spike Lee. Did anybody really see that coming? I for one was surprised and weirdly it sparked up my interest once more. Lee doesnt strike me as the studios first choice but rather an experimental choice. Fans of the original, like me, did not respond in anger but in confusion. Suddenly we had been thrown a curveball. They had handed the keys to a man not known for his subtlety, instead they handed them to a man who is adept at conveying strong politicised messages. Oldboy had gone from being a Hollywood commodity to a film which may have some artistic credence. I can only picture John Turturro as the prison officer, and the double dolly technique being used for the hammer scene. And seeing as Lee has certain brashness to his style, the hope that Hollywood would not tame the obscene ending seems more likely. In a recent interview on Collider with producer Roy Lee he even went as far to heighten the expectations of the films ending;
"The ending will be something that the audiences will all be especially the fans of the original, will be very happy with. In fact, some may consider it to be a bit darker."Spike Lee hasnt really set the world alight in recent times his last film of any note was Inside Man, other than that he has dipped his leg, rather than toe, into documentaries and had a rather high profile feud with one Clint Eastwood. With the new Spike Lee Joint Red Hook Summer currently in production, and the promise of a return for his own Do The Right Thing character Mookie, perhaps a return to his roots will produce a solid lead up to Oldboy. We can only hope. Akira With Oldboy we can look on with intrigue until anything solid comes out of the eventual production, with Akira, I shudder with fear. The list of directors first up was Ruairi Robinso, who you ask? He is an Oscar nominee (Live-animated short, ironic) but according to IMDB he hasnt even completed a feature film; the perfect choice to remake a treasured classic (I do hope my sarcasm comes across). Once he dropped out the project was temporarily dead. However in 2010 two names lingered around the project, the Hughes Brothers or to be precise Albert and Allen Hughes. Except this time Albert Hughes would be going solo. To date they have both made one film worthy of praise, the tenacious Menace II Society, with their most recent feature film outing being last years dreadful Book of Eli. Honestly Gary Oldman what were you thinking. So unless Albert Hughes was the sole reason behind Menace fans of Akira had no reason to feel optimism. And so when earlier this year Hughes dropped out from the project citing creative differences, nobody really cared. And so the studio turned to the man responsible for Goal 2: Living the Dream. Yes you read that right, the director for the live-action remake set in a post apocalyptic Manhattan is the man responsible for allowing Steve McManamans flowing curly locks to be immortalised on a big screen. His debut film a remake of The House of Wax brought with it a major role for Paris Hilton. Luckily the film showed her getting impaled through her mouth; Ill stop myself short of any crass jokes. Since then he directed the so-so Orphan, the performance he got out of his child actress was the best thing to come out of it. A team up with Liam Neeson for Unknown released this year was a very tame effort which doesnt lead me to believe that he is the right man to veer the angry mob into optimism.