Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman
Cowboy Bebop The Movie: Knockin' on Heavenís Door takes place between the episodes "Cowboy Funk" and "Brain Scratch." The film is set on Mars around Halloween of 2071. When Faye Valentine is trying to capture a bounty, she witnesses a mysterious man in a trenchcoat walking away from a stolen tanker truck. Moments later, the tanker explodes and releases a deadly virus killing hundreds. Fearing an even bigger attack, the government places a huge reward of 300 million woolongs for the arrest and capture of the person responsible. Spike, Jet, Faye, and the rest of the crew of the Bebop decide to try to find and catch this bounty. During the course of their hunt, they meet new allies and foes. In the process, they must also find a way to keep an even bigger attack from happening.
Overall, the film is an extended version of a regular Cowboy Bebop episode. One of the big differences between the series and the movie is that action sequences are extended for the film, and more time can be spent on character development. One thing I noticed is that in the film, the character of Ed was actually rather useful; normally, in the series, she seems to be around more for comic relief than for helping to move the story along. One of my biggest disappointments is that the filmmakers chose not to use the original Cowboy Bebop opening credits music for the opening of the film.
When you start up the DVD for Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, you come to the main menu (which is designed to look as if you're looking out of Faye Valentine's ship). The choices included in this menu are Play Movie, Audio Set Up, Subtitles, Scene Selections, Special Features, and Trailers. In the Audio Set Up menu, you can choose to hear the audio in Japanese, English, or French. In the Subtitles menu, you can choose to see the subtitles in either English or French.
A lot more effort was put into the special features included on this disc compared to the DVD releases of the actual episodes. In the Special Features menu, you can watch some featurettes, storyboard comparisons, character biographies, conceptual art galleries, music videos, and trailers.
The storyboard comparisons have the storyboard on the left-hand side of the screen, while the animation that appears in the movie appears on the right-hand side of the screen. There are storyboard comparisons for scenes 3 (The Virus), 6 (The Moroccan Bazaar), 15 (Ed Finds Lee), and 17 (Spike Confronts Vincent). The character biographies have a biography for each character, which includes some basic facts about each one alongside their picture. The conceptual art galleries include the conceptual art for the characters, aircraft, automobiles, monorail, and accessories. There are seven trailers included on the disc, but three of them are for live-action properties. The other four trailers are for: Cowboy Bebop, Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis, Memories, and Steamboy.
There are six featurettes included on the disc: "From the Small Screen to the Big Screen," "International Appeal," "Spike: A Complex Soul," "Faye: Intellectual Vixen," "Ed: Resident Eccentric," and "Jet: No Ordinary Dad." These featurettes include interviews with the director, the Japanese and English voice actors for Spike, the Japanese and English voice actors for Jet, the Japanese and English voice actors for Faye, the ADR Director, the Character Designer, the Composer, and the Japanese and English voice actors for Ed. The music videos are for "Ask DNA" (the opening song of the film) and "Gotta Knock a Little Harder" (from the end of the film). In both cases, the "music videos" are just the songs and textless versions of their appropriate sequences taken straight from the film.
Overall, Cowboy Bebop The Movie: Knockin' on Heavenís Door is an enjoyable film for fans of Cowboy Bebop. However, a viewer has to already have some familiarity with the property in order to enjoy the film; if they don't, then they won't understand a lot of what's going on.
The DVD release for the film is stronger than the episode DVDs. When it comes to special features, the feature I enjoyed the most was the featurettes. I would definitely recommend this film to anyone who enjoys Cowboy Bebop.
I wrote this review after watching a copy of this DVD that my husband and I purchased.