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1 item from 2002

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie

22 August 2002 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Officially bowing Aug. 30 at the Big Apple Anime Fest 2002 -- but sneaking in Aug. 11 for Los Angeles fans at the American Cinematheque's third annual fest of fantasy/sci-fi/horror films -- "Cowboy Bebop: The Movie" is an expanded version of the Cartoon Network hit and should find target-audience acceptance when it's released by TriStar Pictures in January.

Set on Mars in the year 2071 and residing firmly in the practice of recent Japanese animation that takes a less-than-positive attitude toward the future but stops short of being pessimistic, "Cowboy" finds interesting angles and visual details to complement its overall design.

Relying on evocative cityscape and planetscape backgrounds and coming to life most memorably in the action sequences, the film is serious in its approach. But those not dazzled by its handful of all-too-human principal characters may feel -- like with a lot of anime -- that's there's plenty of neat things to look at but little to hold onto in the way of original drama, comedy and storytelling coherence.

The picture's fast-moving two hours still manages to be confusing. (One major issue that only occurs late in the movie is how similar the lead hero and main villain sound.) The film, originally in Japanese with subtitles, has been revoiced in English. The sound effects (nonenveloping) and musical choices (contrasty TV commercial fodder) will underwhelm some, but those previously tuned in with the TV series will be happy to see the team of bounty hunters back in action.

Working together but often critical of each other and usually finding stuff to quarrel over, the heroes in question are slacker Spike Spiegel (voiced by Steven Jay Blum), grouchy Jet Black (Beau Billingslea), maverick Faye Valentine (Wendee Lee) and their Welsh corgi, who doesn't speak and acts like such a regular canine that some of the team don't seem to be aware he's a "data dog." These four fly around in the Bebop and stumble into a plot to bring down the Martian government.

A seemingly invulnerable creep named Vincent (Daran Norris) sets off a biological weapon in a large tanker-truck explosion on a freeway. Faye is about to nab him when this deadly event occurs, and she and Spike compete to finish the job. The mystery deepens to include a large pharmaceutical company's experimentation in applying nanotechnology to warfare and a fetching company enforcer, Elektra Ovirowa (Jennifer Hale), who is instructed to terminate Vincent.

Along with such down-to-earth sequences of surprising resonance as Spike's visit to a "Moroccan Street" informant and over-the-top confrontations like that between Vincent and two pursuers on a monorail train, "Cowboy" has enough style, wit and speculative ideas that an adult can be reasonably entertained, while many younger viewers will undoubtedly have no problem resolving its minor inconsistencies -- and probably happily have nightmares afterward.


Sony Pictures Entertainment

TriStar Pictures presents

Sunrise, Bones, Bandai Visual


Director: Shinichiro Watanabe

Screenwriter: Keiko Nobumoto

Producers: Masuo Ueda, Masahiko Minami, Minoru Takanashi

Executive producers: Takayuki Yoshii, Ryohei Tsunoda

Character designer/animation director: Toshihiro Kawamoto

Mechanical designer: Kimitoshi Yamane

Editor: Shuichi Kakesu

Music: Yoko Kanno


Spike Spiegel: Steven Jay Blum

Jet Black: Beau Billingslea

Faye Valentine: Wendee Lee

Vincent: Daran Norris

Elektra Ovirowa: Jennifer Hale

Running time -- 113 minutes

No MPAA rating


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