Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cowboy Bebop - The Movie

The common complaint when a TV series reaches the big screen is that it's like a regular episode, but bigger. It's a bizarre complaint, because the creators are trying to bring what is good about the series to the screen, and deviating too far would make it something completely different from what the series was in the first place. When you watch a series like Cowboy Bebop, an extra long episode is what you want anyway, because the episodes work as really good little movies.

Taking a completely different tack from Serenity, Cowboy Bebop doesn't use the film to unravel unanswered questions and put a neat little bow on things. Granted, the TV series actually ended the way the creator wanted to, so there's less incentive to do that. Instead, we've got a mystery that's a bit more complex than usual, taking place mid-series. The Bebop's crew is investigating some guy named Vincent, who's spreading a complicated biological weapon and killing lots of people, culminating in stopping him from killing even more people.

Placing the film mid-series kind of deflates a bit of the tension. You know none of your leads are going to die, and you know the day will be saved. I'm not sure that matters though, because even in the regular series there was really no danger of Spike and Jet dying, at the bare minimum, and while Faye and Ed's connection were more tenuous than the two central characters there was a confidence that they would come back. So the film works the same way the series does, just longer.

That's a good thing! The series was always best when it explored complicated villains, and there was always a lot of good action, and it filled 25 minutes with more character development than some long running film series' do in their entire run. Now, we get 2 hours to go deeper, explore characters more thoroughly, and have the mystery take a little longer to unravel for us. This is a great idea, and the idea of watching long Cowboy Bebop should be appealing to everyone.

Not that it's perfect. The villain's motives seem a little muddled, and the ending is surprisingly abrupt. Yeah, the plot itself had pretty much finished, but it seemed like there was still a little more story to tell. Faye also spends a lot of time tied up on the floor, which felt a little gratuitous.

Still, watching the world's longest Cowboy Bebop episode is a great way to spend time, and there's plenty of action and mystery to go around. When people complain something is just a longer version of a regular season episode, point to this, as an example of why that's sometimes what you want.

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