Let's talk about Akira. (Spoilers alert!)
I have just watched Akira yesterday (August 9th, 2013) on YouTube. Now I am trying to write a review. Trying because for some reason it seems to be hard to talk when you don't have much to talk about.
Is Akira a good movie? Yes, it is a good animation with impressive visuals, good action scenes. But there are some things I didn't like.
Most of the mysteries of the film are left unexplained. Who exactly is Akira? Who are their companions? Is there any reason they don't become adults? Why do they get older in the bodies of children? What exactly happened during World War 3? Why did Tetsuo start to develop powers? Why is Tetsuo obsessed in finding Akira? The film ends in a spectacular orgy of destruction but doesn't offer good explanations. The scientist seems to mumble something about the origin of the Universe, but that seems to be complete non-sense.
Another thing is that the film doesn't have likable heroes. Supposedly Kaneda is the main character, but he doesn't seem to do anything important in the film. The real heroes are the aging children, who seem to be manipulating all the events behind the scenes. They are the only ones who seem to know what is happening. The colonel simply does what a military would do, in spite of being completely inefficient. Why is the colonel colonel? Shouldn't he be general?
In spite of not having a good story with good likable characters, it is still a good movie, well directed, compelling, engaging, never boring, with spectacular visuals, good music, good action scenes.
It seems that Hollywood is planning on a live-action remake of Akira. And it also seems that the film will be "white-washed", i.e. to have all characters replaced with white Caucasian actors instead of the original Asian ones. Personally I have nothing against that because it is done on most countries, I think.
In Japan there was a remake of "12 Angry Men" where all the characters were replaced with Japanese actors. Movie companies will hire local actors, it is that simple.
One detail that should have been better explored in the movie is the relationship between Kaneda and Tetsuo and the fact that they are friends at the beginning of the movie. But then due to the secret military experimentation, Tetsuo becomes more and more evil. This is something that you don't see much in movies, the hero and the villain to be close friends at the beginning and then to grow apart and fight each other at the end of the movie and have the hero throughout the movie still trying to save the villain, still trying to reconnect with his former friend.
That is a concept that you just don't see in movies: that the villain is a person that needs to be saved, not to be killed or punished.
If that concept were better explored in the film, Akira would have been a much more emotional picture.