The year is 2071. Following a terrorist bombing, a deadly virus is released on the populace of Mars and the government has issued a 300 million woo-long reward, the largest bounty in history, for the capture of whoever is behind it. The bounty hunter crew of the spaceship Bebop; Spike, Faye, Jet and Ed, take the case with hopes of cashing in the bounty. However, the mystery surrounding the man responsible, Vincent, goes deeper than they ever imagined, and they aren't the only ones hunting him. The original creators of the virus have dispatched Electra to deal with Vincent and take out anyone who may stumble on the truth behind him. As the hunt for the man with no past and no future continues to escalate, they begin to question what about the world is reality and what is a dream as the line between sanity and insanity becomes more apparent.
Directed by: Shin'ichirô Watanabe
, Tensai Okamura
, Hiroyuki Okiura
, Yoshiyuki Takei
. Starring: Kôichi Yamadera
, Unshô Ishizuka
, Megumi Hayashibara
, Aoi Tada
, Yûsaku Yara
, Kazuhiko Inoue
, Jûrôta Kosugi
, Kinryû Arimoto
, Hidekatsu Shibata
, Yûji Ueda
, Nobuo Tobita
, Rikiya Koyama
, Ai Kobayashi
. Music by: Yôko Kanno
I'll start off by saying that I'm a huge fan of Cowboy Bebop. No other anime has characters that are as real and deep, yet fantastic and archetypical as this series. Every episode in the series manages to be visually stunning andor humorous and uplifting while at the ame time being beautiful and poetic all in a twenty-minute timeframe. So its hard not to judge Coboy Bebop: Knockin' On Heaven's Door under the same light or along the same lines as the series. That said, the movie is very cool and very enjoyable, and from the fansub that I watched, I know I'll be snagging this as soon as (or if ever) it is released on DVD.
After the initial five minute attention grabber and wonderfully cheesey rotoscoped-looking opening credits, Spike and the gang set off on the trail of a bearded bioterrorist worth 300,000,000 woolongs who plans to do some bad stuff to whatever planet it is they're on (I think its Mars, but I'm pretty sure they never actually say in the movie). Along the way, we get action, not-so-much action, Maracans, we get to hear some more awesome Yoko Kanno music, Spike reaffirms his position as the most badass character ever in animation, and we almost get to see Faye's boobies. The action scenes are superb, especially two in particular. Spike's first fight with the woefully underdeveloped Electra is easily some of the best martial arts animation ever. Also, the monorail scene is probably one of the coolest and definitely the goriest thing ever seen in Cowboy Bebop.
The movie does, however, slow down at parts, especially when the focus is lifted from the main characters. A lot of times I just felt like I was waiting for the movie to pick itself up and get going again, something that never happens in the show, but, then again, this film is nearly two hours long (awesome for an anime). One reason the film seems so slow in comparison to the series is that there are a lot more establishing shots and the like. It makes you wonder whether Shinichiro Watanabe was trying to be theatrical or just padding the film. Its almost as though they got too good at pacing their own show, which, I suppose is a testament to the original series. Every storyline moved so fluidly and was paced so well that the movie seems sluggish in comparison.
The movie's supporting characters aren't all that great, either. Electra is pretty bland, as is the antagonist, Vincent. That's kind of disappointing, since the Bebop crew was able to give so much personality to other lesser characters who had a lot less screen time in the original series (like Indian dude and the card-playing old guys, who both, thankfully, show up in the movie and play pretty cool roles in some scenes). Most of the other supporting cast is just fodder for Vincent to off to make him seem less likable. One thing that's sure to annoy a lot of people is Vincent's pseudo-religious rants and vague creepy-talk. The way that he talks and the way that others talk about him is a bit indicative of Shinji Ikari and Evangelion, but really not as good or interesting. If you look hard enough, you might be able to find some meaning in the symbolism they're trying to impose, but most of the time it will just come off as BS. At least he looks cool, and in the end, that's all that really matters in a villain.
Electra, on the other hand, is just your average sterotypical good-lookin' hard-ass female cop-type person that shares a mysterious past with Vincent that really isn't all that mysterious or interesting. But the film is really about Spike and the gang, and none of the principal cast go neglected. Each character has some pretty coolfunny scenes, even Ein and Ed (who I'm sure annoys the hell out of some people). The sad thing is that there's none of the ass-slapping hilariousness of "Mushroom Samba," nor is there any of the frenetic and fast-paced shooting action of "Pierot Le Fou." But we do get to see Spike use his 'leet jeet kun do fighting skillz to kick a fair share of ass. In terms of pacing and character development, the movie comes off as an extended version of "Jupiter Jazz" parts one and two, probably my least favorite episodes, sans any cool character revelations. I guess you can't really expect to learn anything new about the characters since the series tied itself up so nicely.
In the end, though, "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" is freaking awesome. It may sound like I've been ragging on it, but that's just because the series is so awesome its hard for anything to hold a candle to it. So does the movie do the series justice? Absolutely, if you're a fan, definitely check it out, but you'd probably have to be a fan to really enjoy it. If the movie were a regular thirty-minute episode, it would be pretty forgettable. Even still, chances are that that's ten times better than most other anime out there.
Review by mrplaid2001 from the Internet Movie Database.