In the year 2071, a tanker explodes on a Mars freeway releasing an unknown killer virus. Bounty hunter Spike Spiegel is unmoved by what appears to be just another terrorist attack…until the Martians offer a record reward. The Bebop crew have a head start on cracking the case because Faye has captured the terrorist suspect on video. Trouble is he has been identified as a military officer whose death was recorded two years before. Convinced that the man is still alive, Faye begins her search while Spike, Jet and Ed trace the source of the virus to a chemical company with connections to the military.
Review by Keith Lofthouse:
The movie spin-off from a popular Japanimation TV series currently seen on the Cartoon Network will entrance fans (as surely they are in some kind of trance) and exasperate anyone with a firm grip on the real world. Filmed before September 11, which doesn’t justify releasing it at any time, The Movie is part science-fiction, martial arts, fantasy and chase, all tangled up in a bio-terrorist plot that rumbles on for two torturous hours and ends with a conventional live-action cliché that makes you wonder why the hell they bothered to animate it.
Hero Spike is a sleepy-headed cool cat who inhales incessantly on some kind of noxious weed and seems barren of any kind of emotion except for the love of money … quite a role model for today’s disenchanted youth, don’t you think? In fact, he’s not all that distinguishable from the “indestructible” villain of the piece, a long-legged, black-coated mean streak who is like a cross between The Grim Reaper, Jack The Ripper and Rasputin The Mad Monk, but with less motivation for his foul deeds.
“Comedy” relief is provided by Ed, a noxious little computer nerd who might have been inspired by Bubble, the bubble-brained assistant of that other Ed in the TV series, Ab Fab. No matter what the fans think (and I’m told some of the diehards actually learn Japanese to watch the original videos, sans subtitles) the animation is rough and raw with, it must be said, occasional blobs of brilliance. Given what modern technology can do, the scenes of urban space-tubs scything into vast bodies of water (on Mars!) are especially clunky and the music is best described as eclectic…or otherwise all over the place.
It’s a great relief when it finally lurches to an anti-climactic shootout so uninspired that the skeletons of old-time cowboys Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy would turn red in their graves. More regressive than futuristic, with too much talk and not enough action and utterly meaningless, it needed the censors to provide the one big laugh by recommending it for mature audiences.
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COWBOY BEBOP (M)
CAST: Voices of Kôichi Yamadera, Unshô Ishizuka, Megumi Hayashibara, Aoi Tada, Tsutomu Isobe
PRODUCER: Masahiko Minami, Minoru Takanashi, Masuo Ueda
DIRECTOR: Shinichiro Watanabe
SCRIPT: Keiko Nobumoto
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Yoichi Ohgami
EDITOR: Shuichi Kakesu
MUSIC: Yoko Kanno
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Shiho Takeuchi
RUNNING TIME: 115 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 6, 2003 - Sydney/Melbourne; April 3, 2003 – Brisbane; tbc – Perth/Adelaide