Friday, February 22, 2013

Bebop Blues: Knockin' On Heaven's Door 07/20/06

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie starts out strong. A quick glimpse at the villian playing Chinese checkers against himself with blue marbles piques interest in the actual story. Before throwing us into that complex storyline however, we're treated to lazy but confident Spike Spiegel and his buff ex-cop partner Jet Black preventing a convienent store robbery. It sounds simple, but it lets people who haven't seen the series become familiar with both Spike's badass indifference and Jet's goody two shoes character through a hostage situation: After the two bounty hunters have eliminated the three robbers they knew were inside the store, a fourth robber comes from the bathroom to take an old lady hostage. While Spike informs the robber that he's not a cop and could care less about "Grandma", Jet seems surprised he would risk "Granny"'s life and loudly discourages Spike for still having his gun(Jet having dropped his weapon due to the hostage situation). Spike shoots and kills the robber, leaving the old lady unharmed. Old Lady: "What are you?" Spike:[twirls his gun around his finger, blows on the barrel] "Just a humble bounty hunter m'am" And this is when the mellow "Ask DNA" kicks in. No, Bebop fans. The gradually more hectic sounds of "Tank!", the opening song for all the sessions(episodes) of Cowboy Bebop doesn't open the movie. The hip but slow "Ask DNA" is more in tune with the movie than that pure action sound. Shortly after the convenient store scene, Spike and Jet are seen playing Shogi(Japanese chess) aboard the spaceship Bebop, giving Jet a chance to lecture Spike on acting too quickly. The dog Ein comes in to move one of Jet's pieces for him, and that's about all the introduction the dog needs. Now it's computer hacker Edward and bitchy hotty Faye's turn to be introduced as Ed informs Faye of a bounty head riding a tanker truck. But instead of the young black male bounty head, an older white male walks out of the truck as it explodes behind him. The entire movie will now become a quiet mystery film, with everyone on Mars wanting to know what exactly was in that truck. Whatever it was is undetectable, leaves its victims with increased brain pressure and finally kills them, leaving no sign it was there to begin with. And, of course, the Bebop crew is a little more concerned with the guy who was in the truck seeing as how there's a 300 million Wulong reward on his head. The story of the mysterious substance, which is reffered to as "the devil" multiple times, is deeply rooted in the military. A military that would rather have this substance stricken from its record than save anyone with the disease. The entire film deals with the seediest of characters, all of whom are in it for themselves. The original tanker truck bounty head turns out to be the mysterious villian's accomplice. His reason for aiding this attack? He's a rookie hacker who wants to be a real terrorist for his own pride. Another of the villian's helpers is a nerdy lowlife who Vincent pays good cash for a few balloon jackolanterns. This nerd's reason for aiding the villian's next attack? He wants a nice shiny car. Throughout the movie, even the good guys have to deal with some questionable characters whether or not they know it. The ISSP police unit has to deal with a medical company studying the tanker truck substance's symptons. The medical unit just might have ties to the military. Spike on the other hand goes to a bean shop at an open market named Morrocan Street to find a drug salesman named Rasheed. The tanker truck was supposed to be carrying beans, so Spike wants to know if they're sold in the market. Rasheed is pretty well known on the street and well liked for obvious reasons. Defending his product as "imagination enhancers", once Spike asks him what was in that tanker he asks "do you believe in the devil?", and for whatever reason gives Spike a vase that's "perfect for him." Oh yeah, and Rasheed knows what was in that tanker truck wasn't beans. Later on, Spike's even lucky enough to find a strong military girl named Elektra Oliva who's directly connected to the villian. And at this point your saying "Joay, Joay, you haven't given a single effing opinion, you've just described some of the story." And that's exactly what I'm trying to do. See, whether or not this movie will be enjoyable to you depends on how many of these questions you answer yes to: Are you interested in the mysterious villian? What about the "devil" substance? Want to know what the villian's motives are? Where'd he get that substance? How does Rasheed know what was in the tanker truck? What the hell are those jackolantern balloons for? If you answered yes to two or more of these questions the story should be interesting to you. If not, action sequences are well-done but they're also few and far between. There's pretty much the opening sequence, a fight between Spike and Elektra, a shootout between Spike and the villian on the monorail, and finally towards the end we get some dogfighting action and the uproar of bebop jazz finally livens up the mostly quiet score. And of course the very end is a karate combat between Spike and the villian to the sound of an upbeat rock track. These action sequences are few and far between and the soundtrack doesn't really get loud until the very end. The first time I watched this movie I was fascinated by the commentary on the supernatural, the villian's past, and the grittiness of it all. The next few times I watched, I realized how easy it is to fall asleep once you know what happened. The coolest part of the movie to me came after the closing credits, where in place of the usual "See you Space Cowboy" message at the end of the sessions, we get a question. A question that we've always asked ourselves yet is so much more striking once we've seen a movie dedicated to that question. Ultimately, if you want to find the answers to the questions left by this review you should be interested enough to get over the fact this movie can be a little too drawn out. But I have to warn you: it IS a little too drawn out. 3.75/5 PS GH: I don't know about David Hayter, Steve Blum plays Spike and I didn't notice his voice on any major characters Anti-Emo: I left a mini-Pirates 2 review as a comment on your myspace Necromancer, Papa: I did a Superman Returns review a while back. It should be a couple pages back on my site.

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