To nobody’s surprise, once again we receive a lazy live-action adaptation of a beloved animated series. After Netflix’s failure with Death Note’s live-action adaptation I had set the bar low for Cowboy Bebop. At least Death Note’s was so bad that it was funny and entertaining. Unfortunately, Cowboy Bebop is a drag to watch.
I loved the original Cowboy Bebop, so talking about it in a bad light hurts me. Unfortunately, this is just plain bad. It changes a lot of storylines, but it still feels like it wants to capture what the original characters were like. It doesn’t blend the old and the new in any way.
Spike, played by John Cho, actually does a decent job of playing the character. Some of his lines were pretty bad, but nonetheless, Cho worked with what he was given. The appearance of Jet (Mustafa Shakir) was accurate and at times felt like the Jet from the original. Faye (Daniella Pineda) wasn’t great and I felt her character for the most part was done poorly with only glimpses at what made the original Faye so good.
Set in 2071, the story follows Spike and Jet who are two bounty hunters looking to make some cash, or in their case, wulongs. Spike holds a mysterious past that’s bound to be uncovered whether he wants it to or not. Jet is an ex-police officer who has become a bounty hunter and partnered up with Spike
A script makes or breaks any film or series and it tears Cowboy Bebop apart. The script was so bad that I often wanted to just switch to a different show. The dialogue was cringeworthy and I’m horrified someone saw this on paper and thought it was good.
For example, Jet is talking to a woman named Woodcock and he says to her that what she’s doing sounds like blackmail and she replies, ‘Damn right it is because, Jet, you are black and you are a male’. The terrible dialogue ruined any chance Cowboy Bebop had of being a good show.
Also, one of the biggest problems is how it differs from the original in a bad way. Jet getting a backstory was a good idea. Although, the execution was just lazy. Episode five was Jet’s new backstory. However, it had so many tropes in it that it started to feel like a detective show from the 50s.
It has Vicious and Julianna in it way more than the original and somehow nothing has been added to their characters. Vicious was originally mysterious and had a villain-like aura about him, but in this live adaptation, Vicious doesn’t seem like a threat at all.
The story, in Cowboy Bebop fashion, is done in the sense that episodes have separate storylines. However, none of them are all that interesting. One plot point was an evil mother turning people into trees to send a message to a company and Faye, Spike and Jet went to grab her bounty. And honestly not much else happened that was interesting.
It was clear that Christopher Yost cared for the characters to some extent. The main cast looked accurate to their original counterparts. There were some moments where I thought ‘Yeah, that would have been said in the original Cowboy Bebop’. The aesthetic of the show was on point in my opinion. The music was decent also. Some areas in the show, specifically the Bebop or the urban areas, felt right. They looked futuristic but still had a retro look.
One add-on I did enjoy was that Jet went on a mission with Spike. The dynamic was only okay due to poor writing, however, they felt like natural partners at times. The CGI was surprisingly good. Sometimes it was a tad obvious, but nonetheless, it was a good job considering it takes place in the future with space traversal.
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I couldn’t recommend this to anyone new or old to the franchise. It feels like Netflix just cashed in on the name and rushed out the show. I had to force myself to finish each episode. If you want to watch a good show, watch the original Cowboy Bebop and not this parody. The lousy storylines and atrocious writing did the series no favours and ultimately ruined what could have been great.