Sunday, September 14, 2014

Why Anime Shows Can't be Live Action Films (at least in the U.S)

Reading an earlier blog post about books turning into movies inspired me to write about anime shows turning into live action films, and why they just don't work.  
I mean, c'mon. When was the last time you went to the movies to see a live action film based off of an anime show and it was actually really good? Probably never. And this idea of turning anime into live action films will never, never work because the film industry in the U.S just completely fails when doing so. 

Fail Number One: Avatar: The Last Airbender & The Last Airbender (2010)

That character interpretation tho
Avatar: The Last Airbender was no doubt one of the best shows Nickelodeon came out with. However, the movie adaptation, The Last Airbender (directed by M. Knight), was completely horrible. I mean, the film won Worst Picture in 2010, and was universally attacked by critiques about the plots being inconsistent with the show, and let's not even begin on the acting or the pronunciation of character names. (Is it Eroh or Iroh?) The film's budget was $150,000,000 but only grossed in $131,564,731 in the U.S. Surpringly though, it ranked second in the box office behind The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. (Ironic?)
The anime show is Asian-influenced especially when it comes to the characters and cultures (meditation relating to Buddhism, etc.) HOWEVER, Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon were critiqued for casting Caucasians in the film, and even being racist by having Prince Zuko played by Dev Patal, the only 'colored' actor in the film. The Asian community was so upset by this action that the Media Action Network for Asian-Americans urged for a boycott of the film. Even though anime characters are all up for interpretation, the industry could at least try to make it close enough to how the anime character looks. I mean, the artists literally drew them out for you.
Besides the terrible casting, the visual effects were sad to see and the dialogue was just painful to listen to. The film is narrated by Katara, but every character is so repetitive with their lines and even explain themselves so much, that there really isn't a need for the poorly written narration. The film was HEAVILY scripted as well, with way too much talk and not enough visual effects. It seems like the director told the kids to just wave their arms around and it's 'bending'. Bending is an actual form, but thank you very much for taking the time to consider that. (Sarcasm for those of you who don't understand it). The movie Avatar came out around the same time, so obviously special effects could have been pulled off in the film. The bending looked so computer generated (I'll give them credit though, it's tough to make fire look natural but controlled at the same time). But there's a scene where you can see Aang petting Momo the Lemur, but his hand is hovering over at least a couple inches above. The movie received 6% on the Tomatometer and 4.4 stars out of 10 on Internet Movie Database. If there's one thing the movie did do great, it was that it lived up to the title. It definitely is the last live action avatar movie we'll see.

Fail Number Two: Dragon Ball & Dragon Ball Evolution (2009)

Do I even need to really explain why this movie failed? The movie is "supposedly" based off the first series of Dragon Ball (Dragon Ball Z & GT have the same characters but are just about different periods of times in their lives, for those of you who don't know your Dragon Ball facts). The plot in the anime is that a monkey tailed boy named Goku befriends a girl named Bulma, who goes on an adventure with him to find the seven Dragon Balls which will summon the dragon Shenlong who will then grant the user one wish. I don't even know the plot for Dragon Ball Evolution; it's just somewhere along Goku's life. For starters, the film did a terrible job explaining the plot elements. Everything just sort of happens in the film without an explanation, and a lot of the original content from the anime was completely ignored. For example, Picollo (the bad guy) gets released from his seal and Goku gets appointed as the savior of the world. But there's no answers to the how's and why's, especially when all the characters just pop up out of nowhere to Goku's assistance. 
Eh, close enough
And the special effects are sooooo cheesy, and lack the visual elements that the anime provided. For those of you who are die-hard Dragon Ball fans, you know you were super excited to see Goku transform into "Oozaru", his monkey form. But wait for it...Surprise! It's nothing more than 30 seconds of really bad special effects and disappointment. The dialogue is also over dramatic and yet so uninspiring. And once again, people complained about the cast; we see that a Caucasian (Justin Chatwin) plays the role for an Asian influenced character. It's no surprise that the film received 2.8 stars out of 10 on Internet Movie Database, and 14% on the Tomatometer. The film is definitely entertaining if you're an 11 year old boy.

Fail Number Three: Speed Racer & Speed Racer (2008)

So far, it seems like movies based on anime shows fail to use special effects to their advantage. However, Speed Racer just used TOO much special effects, and not surprisingly, didn't develop a coherent story line. But that's according to the finest critiques. Everyone else actually loves Speed Racer.  The "too much special effects" isn't a bothersome to audiences but instead, enjoyable. People love getting sucked into a new world full of colors that remind them of a classic arcade game. And although there's been complaints about the actor's acting in the film, others have argued that it's supposed to add to the cartoon-ish feel of the film. I mean, the film does have it's cheesy moments, but it is suppose to appeal to a younger audience as well. But besides the film being visually accepted and enjoyable and cheesy acting, the story line is still neglected form the original anime. You can have a film be full of colors and cheesyness (which is exactly the point of the film), but can't neglect the narrative coherence of the film. The film has been listed as one of the most underrated films, and an unsung masterpiece for it's time. Speed Racer is literally a film that is so bad, that it's so good; an argumentative film that only you can either love or hate. However, the film didn't even surpass it's budget of $120,000,000. Instead, it only grossed in about $44,000,000. But based on the two previous films listed above, Speed Racer did much better in ratings with 6.2 stars out of 10 on Internet Movie Database, as well as 39% on the Tomatometer. Then again, it could have gotten better ratings than the other two since the The Wachowski Brothers took advantage of writing a movie based off an unknown Japanese manga/anime series. 

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