Cowboy Bebop: The Movie

"Very Good"

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie Review


Having never watched the Cowboy Bebop anime series, I have to say I was a little disappointed to see little in the way of either cowboys or dancing in the feature of the same name (which came out in Japan in 2001, but hit U.S. theaters briefly in the spring of 2003), but that's ultimately probably for the best. In the world of Cowboy Bebop, it's the year 2071, a time when the Earth has become almost uninhabitable and everyone has moved out to other planets in the solar system, like Mars. The plucky little band of bounty hunters who star in the film -- the closest thing to cowboys here -- are getting restless with picking up minor thugs for chump change. Fortunately for them, a terrorist explodes a tanker truck full of some germ agent on a crowded downtown highway - apparently they haven't fixed the traffic problem on Mars yet - killing dozens of people and getting a massive bounty put out on him.

Vincent, the "terrorist," baffles everyone, as he doesn't seem to have much of a motive, and might just be having anger management issues. Most of the Cowboy band - coolly magnetic Spike Spiegel, gruff Jet Black, and the very capable Faye Valentine - spreads out across the city to find out what the guy's problem is and what exactly what was the agent that he was using. It's a good excuse to show off the film's impeccable design, which incorporates familiar elements from Earth cities and reproduces them on Mars, presumably as the inhabitants' way of remembering their ruined home planet (several New York icons are used as background, including the Flatiron building and even, this being a 2001 film, the World Trade Center). Thus we get several scenes set in a North African-style bazaar, and even a climactic showdown on an Eiffel Tower, during a Halloween parade, no less.

Some have complained that Cowboy Bebop is not much of a movie and is merely a standard-issue episode of the series stretched out to a little under two hours in length. Again, having never seen the show, this could very well be correct, and it is definitely true that there's probably only about an hour's worth of story here. And although some passages in the film drag, especially before the truth of Vincent's psychopathic mission is uncovered, the lustrous animation is more than enough compensation.

Also, it seems churlish to make such a critique of a movie that not only has such wonderful characters but isn't particularly hurried to push them into drama for the sake of drama. At a time when Hollywood live-action product is so neurotic about keeping its audience glued to the screen at every possible second (jokes! explosions! no down time!), it's ironic that an anime feature, a genre which had originally penetrated the US market based primarily on its high-impact, anti-Disney, sex 'n' violence approach, should be so confident and relaxed. Even the voice actors here take it low-key, often talking in quiet, hushed tones instead of the !exclamation marks! favored by most animated product (Pixar excepted).

Spike Spiegel is a case in point. Not your average anime hero - he doesn't have steroid-sized muscles, a gun the size of a person, and isn't a vampire - he's pretty good with his kung fu and knows how to use a pistol, but seems more interested in kicking back and having a smoke. Like the movie, he has a wiry build, an insouciant smirk and just about no pride.

The DVD comes with making-of featurettes and is fortunately presented in widescreen with subtitles.

Aka Cowboy Bebop: Tengoku no tobira.

Danger, danger!



Cowboy Bebop: The Movie

Facts and Figures

Run time: 115 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 1st September 2001

Box Office USA: $0.9M

Distributed by: Independent Distribution Partn

Production compaines: Bandai Visual Company, Bones, Destination Films, Sunrise

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Fresh: 45 Rotten: 25

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Shinichirô Watanabe, Hiroyuki Okiura

Starring: Kôichi Yamadera as Spike Spiegel, Unshō Ishizuka as Jet Black, as Edward, as Electra, as Faye Valentine, Mickey Curtis as Rasheed, as Vincent, Jin Hirao as Antonio, as Renji, Miki Nagasawa as Judy, Hiroshi Naka as Jobin, Akihiko Nakajima as Carlos

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