Eye For Film >> Movies >> Cowboy Be-Bop (2001) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Set in an immaculately rendered year 2071, this big screen adventure for the popular Manga bounty hunters is nevertheless sharp and contemporary in its choice of topics, its attitude and its humour. It is also truly international in its scope, encompassing a variety of languages and cultures in an unselfconscious way rarely seen in Western film. Ironically, it is a different type of western film which it strives to imitate, employing many of the tropes of the traditional epic cowboy story in a way which interweaves surprisingly well with its confident imaginings of the future. This is a timeless story told in a manner absolutely up to date.
Opening with a drugstore robbery scene which demonstrates animation director Yutaka Nakamuru's brilliance in capturing motion, the plot develops rapidly as our odd band of heroes uncover what looks like an international terrorist plot involving deadly biological weapons - but is it that simple? Corporate cover-ups and mysterious military experiments are revealed as one would expect in this sort of thing, amid the similarly mandatory martial arts fighting, wearing of skimpy clothing, and high-speed flying chases across Mars; but it's all done with an exuberance and a refreshing lack of conscious irony which enable one to enjoy the story in its own right, devoid of social baggage.
The characters are earnest and endearing; tragedy unfolds in classic form, personal concerns remaining at the forefront despite the threat posed to the whole world. Insane villain Vincent may be erratic and look like a reject from V For Vendetta, but by and large he holds his own. It's nice to meet at bunch of heroes who are (at first) motivated simply by a desire to do better than living off instant noodles. Even the token hyper-cute character, retarded genius Edo, works within the confines of the story and manages not to be annoying.
There are no great innovations here so far as plot or animation are concerned, but fans of Manga can expect an above-average, solid contribution to the genre. This is in many ways a more accessible Manga film than most, so far as outsiders are concerned, and it should hold some appeal for all fans of action movies. Computer and film geeks will be delighted by the rendering of old games and movies in a fit of timely nostalgia for the twentieth century; yet this is very much a 21st century film, and, by the looks of it, there's a lot to to look forward to.Reviewed on: 27 Jun 2007