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Will Bullet Train Do Justice to Its Namesake Novel?

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Brad Pitt Bullet Train

Longtime Hollywood heartthrob Brad Pitt is returning to the big screen, with a few other notable stars, for the movie Bullet Train. Directed by David Leitch, the movie is Pitt’s first after 2019’s Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood. The new film is an adaptation of Kōtarō Isaka’s 2010 novel Maria Beetle. The novel, originally in Japanese, was published in English as Bullet Train. The movie adaptation includes many other famous faces such as Joey King, Sandra Bullock, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada, Brian Tyree Henry, and Michael Shannon.

Kōtarō Isaka is a bestselling Japanese author. His novel, Maria Beetle, is a dark, satirical thriller that follows a perilous train journey of five highly trained and motivated assassins. The journey takes place from Tokyo to Morioka as the characters of Satoshi, Kimura, Ladybug, and the duo Tangerine and Lemon battle it out to see who gets off the train alive at the last terminal. The novel is packed with action and energy with a complex set of twists, turns, and double-crosses. The thriller, much like its author, was a resounding success in Japan and emerged as an original, bestselling novel.

The Bullet Train adaptation is set to loosely follow the same plot as the novel. The Sony Pictures synopsis for the movie reads:

Despite these claims from Sony, talking to HERO Magazine in March 2022, actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson said that although the movie started by being faithful to the dark, satirical tone of the novel, the tone changed as production progressed. “Originally, this thing was quite a dark, R-rated, vicious action piece, but we hammed it up and made it fun,” he said, “I don’t know what happened, but it became a comedy!”.

Fans of the novel and future audiences of Bullet Train are now left with the question of whether the movie adaptation will do justice to the much-loved book.

Although some fans look forward in excitement to the adaptation’s changes, some have raised concerns about issues they think the movie may hold. These are mainly to do with Asian representation in the adaptation and what this might mean in the context of Hollywood.

Speaking to AsAmNews, David Inoue, the Executive Director of the Japanese American Citizens League, expressed his thoughts regarding allegations of whitewashing:

In analyzing the novel against what has been released about the movie, Inoue’s claims seem valid as non-Asian characters appear to comprise the majority of the movie cast. Inoue further said that non-Asian actors should be questioned regarding their relationship with the Asian community. “To see a film set in Japan with Japanese characters only as the background is offensive, and some of them should have been asking questions about this,” he said. Speaking specifically of Pitt and his influence in Hollywood, Inoue stated, “someone of Brad Pitt’s stature has the ability to do that, and he failed to say anything.”

Related: Brad Pitt’s Formula 1 Movie: Everything We Know So far

In addition to issues with Asian representation in the adaptation, viewers have also expressed concern over the differences they’ve noted in the portrayal of Japan in the trailer of the movie. One of the significant differences is that the bullet train in the film doesn’t resemble the one in the novel or, in fact, trains in Japan. This is regardless of the fact that the movie is set in Japan. Observant viewers, analyzing the train’s environment and digital displays, have also realized that the train in the adaptation heads from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka. This is a direction opposite to the one specified in the novel. The change in direction may be attributable to the directors wanting to connect with their international audience by having the train take a route traveled by many international travelers who journey from Tokyo to Kyoto.

A claim has also been made that the Japan portrayed in the adaptation is an “amped-up” version of the real Japan, with elements that would appeal to an international audience being highlighted. However, the Japanese people have responded positively to the portrayal of Japan in the trailer. Isaka took to Twitter to express his thoughts via a handwritten image. The English translation of the message reads, “What’s this Japan!? Even though I was surprised, I was excited by the gorgeous across and their energetic, violent scenes! I hope it will be a fun movie that will drive away dark feelings!”

Whether the adaptation will do justice to its namesake novel will only be revealed on July 29, 2022. Despite allegations of whitewashing, fans of the book also appear excited to see what differences the movie may hold. The author of the novel giving his seal of approval is a definite plus point for the adaptation. Further, Pitt is a much-loved actor in Japan, being affectionately nicknamed “Burapi.” This, too, works in favour of the adaptation as, despite changes, the presence of “Burapi” may carry the movie to success.

Related: The Lost City: Everything to Know About the Star-Studded Comedy

It also has to be admitted that the cinematic requirements of a movie adaptation deem that the adaptation differs from its source work. While plot details may be adhered to, the directors of the adaptation should be afforded the creative freedom to make their work different, authentic, and original. The same goes for Bullet Train. As such, the justice done by the adaptation to its namesake source should be evaluated on its own merit, with the unique differences between the mediums of novel and movie in mind.

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The Ozark Villain You Are Based On Your Zodiac Sign

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If your birthday comes during the holidays and you open your gifts between November 22 and December 21, you’re a Sagittarius like dynamic “Ozark” villain and one-time Ruth nemesis Frank Cosgrove, Jr. The son of KC mob boss Frank Cosgrove, Frank Junior (Joseph Sikora) is one of the few characters in “Ozark” who manages to eke out some personal growth, proving he is much more than just a daddy’s boy with a casino job. 

Hotheaded Frank Junior says far too much of what’s on his mind and doesn’t play well with the Byrde crew at first, eventually escalating his feud with Ruth Langmore to the point of violence. After he gets wasted and nearly beats Ruth within an inch of her life, the Langmore lass has the last word when Darlene Snell finds Frank Junior in his car and rearranges his stick shift with her shotgun.

One of the best Sag traits is the Sagittarian ability to sail through life’s many obstacles, and Frank Junior is no exception. Despite getting his junk blasted into his trunk, Frank Junior is easily able to forgive and forget, forging ahead to the future. He even manages to move on like a champ, forming something of a friendship with his former nemesis Ruth. And despite his immaturity early in the series, Frank Junior eventually begins to demonstrate a surprising level of capability in his line of work.

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The Incredible Hulk Actors You Might Not Know Passed Away

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Born in 1934 in San Francisco, California, Bill Bixby didn’t start out as an actor but rather a member of the Marine Corps, from which he was honorably discharged in 1957 (via Find a Grave). From there, he made his way into modeling in Detroit, which led him to work in theater, which then led to the film industry.

He portrayed Dr. David Bruce Banner, a grief-stricken scientist whose experiments lead to the creation of the Hulk, in the 1978 live-action televised series “The Incredible Hulk.” Unlike other superheroes, the Hulk is not a controllable force, but rather a dangerous, angry entity made of sheer, unstoppable strength. Bixby portrayed the character in three TV movies as well: “The Incredible Hulk Returns,” “The Trial of the Incredible Hulk,” and “The Death of the Incredible Hulk,” all of which he also directed.

Bixby passed away in 1993 at the age of 59 due to complications with prostate cancer. At his request, he was cremated and his ashes scattered at his estate in Hana, Hawai’i. He was married three times, most recently to Judith Kliban within two months of his passing (via The Famous People).

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