James Franco to be cast in AKIRA?

According to gossip news site Just Jared, 127 Hours star James Franco is currently in talks to star in the live-action feature film adaptation of the manga series Akira. If he ends up being officially cast in the film he will take on the role of Kaneda. The movie will be directed by Albert Hughes (The Book of Eli) from a script written by Albert Torres (Henry Poole is Here). Franco is definitly a great choice for this role, and I hope he ends up ultimately getting cast in the film.

I honestly don't think Hughes has got what it takes to adapt this story properly, I'm not really that big of a fan of most the Hughes Brothers films. I've always been curious to see what this story would look like in live-action, and I've nervously excited about seeing the adaptation brought to life. A live-action Akira film has the potential of being epically awesome. I just look at the film styles and special effects we have these days, and I can't help but think that if this movie was done right, it could end up being unlike anything we've seen before. The potential that this property has is incredible. Will we see this epic Akria film that should be? I don't think so.

Details for the live-action version of the film were leaked online last year and here's the description which gives us some details on the changes that have been made:

The story has been “Americanized,” with the center of the action taking place in New Manhattan after the decimation of the city ( an incident resembling a nuclear bomb explosion), has been blamed on the work of unknown terrorists, with the  iconic shot of Akira as the sole survivor clutching his teddy bear standing solemn in the crater at ground zero.

Flash-forward to sometime in the future where protagonists Kaneda and Travis (gone is the name Tetsuo – why not just keep it? ) belong  to one of several biker gangs that control the burned out old Manhattan, while the shiny new Chinese-owned-and-invested “New Manhattan” glitters back at them like a star that cannot be touched.

The story somewhat follows the animated film but introduces a new character, Ray Arcman, who is the mad scientist that created Akira by using psychic and kinetic experiments on children including the three Espers (the elderly looking 10-year-olds from the animated film).

Asian gangsters run the underworld along with several motorcycle gangs (sadly, the “Clowns” are not in the film). Illegal drugs are still in demand and the gangs in turn  have to pay tribute to their bosses, the ”Packies” (Pakistanis).

Liberties are taken with some of the characters: Princess Miyako is now an elderly trash-collecting lady in Old Manhattan and the Colonel’s part doesn’t come off as strong as he did in the animated version.

There are also continuity problems with the script. In one scene, the Colonel sets off a claymore mine in order to block the approaching Black Ops army and is wounded. Yet, in another scene after this, when he is captured, The Colonel is able to take out two military policeman and operate a .50 caliber mini-gun in a helicopter gunship in order to save Kaneda – then he promptly disappears for the remainder of the film.

Yes, Travis (Tetsuo) does expand and morph into a ballooning human amoeba, but only for one short scene. I think we can all agree that this is one of the landmark, crucial scenes that needs to be in the film, yet it’s only a mere fragment.

Kaneda gets a Tech 9 machine pistol instead of the high-tech-looking plasma-type weapon that was used in the original anime, and on the iconic Akira poster. 

What do you all think about the possibilty of Franco starring in Akira?

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