Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Killing the dream.


Well, it's happened. It's out. It's on MTV news, so that means it's real, right? Keanu Reeves is not only going to make a Cowboy Bebop movie, is not even just going to play the protagonist Spike Spiegel for whom he is wrong on a number of levels (see our previous casting call post), but he is going to star as Spike Spiegel in live action movie of Cowboy Bebop that condenses the entire series into two goddamn hours.

Oh, Jesus, why. Why, God, why, explain it to me, why, why goddamnit why.

"Oh yeah, cool,” he said when I asked him about the flick recently. “We’re trying to do that.”

Trying and already failing.

For anyone who's seen the series, I don't have to say anything other than the above for you to understand how fundamentally awful this is going to be. Some people out there, however, haven't seen it. Maybe they didn't have the time, maybe they think anime is stupid, who knows. But let's just jot down a quick little laundry list of the things that make the series completely amazing.

Scope. The scope of the show, on every single level, is astounding. The breadth of genres dipped into; musical styles used to terrific, startling effect; the depth and stretch and detail of the world the series takes place in, our world turned sideways after a horrific and believable accident render the Earth all but uninhabitable; the places the characters go; the places the characters come from. Cowboy Bebop is dazzlingly creative. However, in the twenty six episodes of the series and the feature film that already exists, they mined barely a fraction of the characters varied origins, the infrastructure our solar system currently runs under, etc etc. Which leads us into:

Brevity. Not just the soul of wit. A good number of the show's episodes work so well because they are brief. Portraits. Vignettes. The entire series, in the end, proves to be as cohesive as Spike's perception of reality which, if you've watched the series, you'll know... ain't so hot.

So I guess there is one thing Spike and Keanu have in common.

More after the jump

The Music. In the interview, Keanu says:I think that would be a production designer’s dream...I think you just need a good production designer.”. Just? Just? Oh, no. You need much much much more than just a good production designer, but hey- that's a given. Gee, you think? Give that there are, in fact, examples of very well designed cross-genre shows (Firefly, anyway? Blade Runner, anyone?!), let's just say, yeah, okay, it's a given that the Production Designer should be pretty damn good. But hey, Keanu, how about the music? Why not give it a mention? After all, it is in the goddamn title.

If the name 'Yoko Kanno' isn't one of the first attached to this monstrosity, then the people behind are even greater asshats than I had previously thought possible.

The Crew is the soul of the show, of course. They get their own episodes to showcase their awesomeness, or their pasts, or their journeys or their whatever, though Spike remains the central figure throughout the bulk of the series. All I'm saying is, answer me this: Who the hell do you think you're going to get to play Jet Black?

Spike Spiegel sees the past in one eye and the present in the other. He's not sure if he's awake or asleep, ever. He's cool and slick and easily irritated unless he's around someone who's irritable, than he's completely unflappable. He's betrayed people, he's been betrayed, and he has an arch nemesis. He's in his late twenties. He's a jeet kune do master. And yes, he has a green afro. Keanu is totally wrong for this part. Maybe fifteen years ago he could have pulled it off, but that day has passed, and anyway, pulling it off is not good enough, not for a work like Bebop. LeePaceLeePaceLeePace. I'm not even a Lee Pace fangirl. I just jumped on the Pushing Daisies bandwagon, and before that I was only peripherally aware of his existence, like his role in Infamous. I'm not just throwing that name around because I think he's dreamy.

Although, clearly, I do.

Lee Pace. Lee Pace Lee Pace Lee Pace.

Lee Pace.

This movie... good God almighty. This movie is such a bad idea. It was bad enough when it was just a rumor that was trailing Keanu's name. It is so much infinitely worse now that not only has that part of the rumor been confirmed, but the people for whom this is such a passion project seem to think that it is in some way a decent idea to try and take 26 episodes and condense it into 2 hours. This is more effing batshit an idea than trying to condense Watchmen into a single movie, and Watchmen actually has a linear storyline. Now, such a storyline may, in fact, be gleaned from Cowboy Bebop. Like any good story, it features things from the past coming to a head. But that's not what the series is about. That's one fraction of a character's journey through the series, that's not the bulk of it. I don't think these pepole have any idea what it is about, either, or else they wouldn't think this is a good idea.

Take a look at this clip and you’ll get an idea of why Reeves is not only a perfect-looking fit for Spiegel, but also why he thinks the most important person on the set will be the one trying to translate the series’ unique look.

MTV? You have officially crossed the line from Overrated Uberwhore to Soulless Waste. Congratulations.

Reeves revealed that this outline for the flick is currently focusing on the origins of the fictional “Bebop” drug developed by the military, which provides its users with a brief surge of superhuman reflexes and awareness. “We’re taking the Red Eye [story], the beginning part of the series,” he explained, “and then we’ll deal with the end of the series. We’re trying to figure out [the time frame]. We’re looking at the story right now."

I'm sorry, are you serious? If you're such a big damn fan of the show, how could you have possibly MISSED THE TWO HOUR THEATRICALLY-RELEASED MOVIE THAT DEALT WITH BIOLOGICAL WARFARE, REDUNDANT SOLDIERS, AND THE MILITARY?!

GodDAMNit.

Yeah, it’s so episodic and so disconnected. We’re trying to figure out what pieces to put together to tell one story,” he explained. “Because it’s such a short form, to make a 2 hour version [will be tough]. And it’s got so much of an origin-story obligation; you’ve got to get people up to speed, but you don’t want to do much of that. There are a lot of things to take into consideration, but we think we can do something good.”

Really? Cuz it's not that hard. Ballad of Fallen Angels, Jupiter Jazz 1 and 2, Real Folk Blues 1 and 2. Spike movie. Will it strip out the endless myriad of small touches and foreshadowing that make the revelations of those episodes so important? Sure. Will it push the other vibrant, interesting characters of the show to the background and allow for roughly zero time exploring them? You know it. So you know what, I take it back. Here's a plan: Don't. Don't do it. Don't make shit up about a drug of zero importance to the Bebop universe (when the important aspect would be, I don't know, the drug syndicate...) when you don't have to. When you have more than enough in those 26 episodes to make something pertinent, that comments on the projected future of man, the places technology can take and then strand us, and the search of one man to wake up.

Or, hey, do the fans, and the potential fans, a favor- and just don't do it at all.

5 comments:

Scott said...

...they're calling the drug Bebop? What, are they afraid people won't understand the title otherwise? Did THEY have difficulty- no, don't worry, I know the answer to that already.

In a movie banking on fans' love for the series, why would they then go and STOMP ALL OVER that series? How many non-fans do they imagine they're going to get to a movie called 'Cowboy Bebop'? I mean, once they've stripped away everything that would appeal to any casual moviegoer who would note the title and think about, oh, you know, JAZZ.

Knockin' on Heaven's Door already showed its possible to do a movie independant of the arc of the anime (while still connected to it) so why not do that again, only live-action? Oh, right, right, that would require some original thought, not just sticking the 26 scripts in a blender and paying a monkey to glue it back together.

My rage, let me show you it.

david said...

well, the movie is just going to be a 2-hour version of the FIRST EPISODE of the show... so keep that in mind. but yes, as someone who has been obsessed with bebop since the day the first dvd came out, imported the movie and then saw it in theaters... this whole thing makes me sad. but then again, it doesn't really because i never had any interest in seeing a live action movie of this anyway. the series could not be better. so... it's sort of a wash as far as i'm concerned.

EruditeChick said...

No no! Read the interview:

Reeves revealed that this outline for the flick is currently focusing on the origins of the fictional “Bebop” drug developed by the military, which provides its users with a brief surge of superhuman reflexes and awareness. “We’re taking the Red Eye [story], the beginning part of the series,” he explained, “and then we’ll deal with the end of the series. We’re trying to figure out [the time frame]. We’re looking at the story right now.”

WHOLE THING.

david said...

well, this is going to be awful. that's easy to see. but as nice as it would have been for the CB movie to be good, it's really an afterthought as far as i'm concerned. they can't take the perfect show away from us, and i've never been particularly interested in seeing anyone try. there are a million great original ideas out there - i'm getting so sick of these awkward and completely unnecessary cinematic adaptations of phenomenal properties!

EruditeChick said...

Hear fucking hear, david.