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Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (R)
Samuel Goldwyn Films
Official Site
Director: Shinichiro Watanabe
Producers: Masuo Ueda, Masahiko Minami, Minoru Takanashi
Screenwriter: Keiko Nobumoto
Voiceactors: Steven Jay Blum, Beau Billingslea, Wendee Lee, Mellisa Fahn, Daran Norris

Rating: out of 5

Rejoice Cowboy Bebop fans the movie based on the popular anime series has arrived. For those not familiar with the series it is an animated show set in the year 2071. Space travel is possible throughout the solar system and star ships hop from planet to planet. One of those starships is the Bebop with the crew of Spike Spiegel (Steven Jay Blum) a former syndicate assassin, Jet Black (Beau Billingslea) a former cop, Faye Valentine (Wendee Lee) a professional gambler, Ed (Mellisa Fahn) a prepubescent computer hacker, and Ein their dog. Now they are all very broke bounty hunters. If you want to know how such an unlikely team got together then watch the series.

Even novices to the series should be able to follow the plot without any difficulty. On the planet Mars a mysterious man in black detonates a bomb blowing up a futuristic eighteen wheeler. Soon afterwards people start coming down with a deadly illness. The Martian government desperate for a solution declares a huge reward on the bombers head and the bebop crew desperate for money decides to investigate.

This hunting bioterrorists premise is one of the films many mistakes. The original episodes had a much more classic feel with ideas that seemed taken from film noir or Honk Kong action movies. This ultra modern concept just doesnít fit. Besides who hasnít heard the word ďbioterrorismĒ for the umpteenth time on the news?

All the trademarks of classic Cowboy Bebop are here Spike awakens from knockdown fights in a body cast, Jet bitches about his irresponsible crew, Faye gets tied up after biting off more than she can chew, and Ed makes very strange non sequitor comments. Yet something is missing, soul. In the series even though the episodes were 30 minutes all of the conflicts were deeply personal to the bebopís crew. In a 30 minute episode it easy to forgive if the bad guy is not well fleshed out, but in a two hour movie the bad guy is the antagonist just as important as any other character. Originally the movie was to be ninety minutes long, but in mid-production it was extended to 120 minutes. This was a mistake it just gives us an extra thirty minutes to realize how much we donít care about the villain, Vincent Volaju (Daran Norris). Also far too much time is spent explaining the specifics of how the virus works and the shadowy conspiracy behind it all.

All is not lost the fist fights between Spike and Vincent are fast and fluid. The animators definitely earned their pay providing us with the best examples of animated violence ever. Occasionally the dialogue strikes a resemblance to the beloved series and the dubbing is spot on. Fans of the series will rush to the theaters to see their favorite characters in action one more time, but this movie is not the best introduction to the uninitiated. It just doesnít compare to the classic appeal of the original episodes which are readily available on DVD.

ó Woodrow Bogucki


hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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