It took me much longer to get a hold of this movie than I would have liked so believe me, the almost year wide gap between me talking about this movie and the tv series was not intentional. I don't think it matters if you watch the movie after the show or when it's chronologically set within the show (which I believe is around episode 24), and while the story is self-contained enough that a newcomer could probably follow the movie it does provide some foreshadowing for the end of the series which makes it a more enjoyable movie for someone who has already seen all or part of the series. We did show part of the movie at my school's anime club and it seemed like everyone, fan and newcomer alike, enjoyed it but I do think a fan is going to get more out of it.
Cowboy Bebop The Movie: Knockin' On Heaven's Door
Summary: It's almost Halloween night and there's a criminal on the loose who wants to play a "trick" on the capital city of Mars, releasing a deadly virus that's almost impossible to detect and cure. So when the government puts out the largest bounty ever for his arrest the crew of the Bebop all get to work tracking him down in their various ways but will they be able to find him in time?
The Good: The story feels exactly like an episode from the later part of the story, the characters have been mostly fleshed out, they each track down Vincent exactly how you would expect them to, and there is some foreshadowing about Spike's past and future thrown in as well. The setting feels just right, from the looks to how everything interacts with each other, and all in all the movie felt cohesive and rather fun as a fan of the series. It was exactly what I expected to get from the movie, was entertaining, and made me want to re-watch the original show again which is the best thing a movie like this can do.
The Bad: Technically the movie doesn't add anything to the story so some would consider it a cash-in attempt where the creators made it just for the sake of making money. If you feel that way about franchise movies then avoid this since you'll just be grumpy about it, but with a story like Cowboy Bebop's (which was held together more thematically than with an overarching plot) I think it works fine. Vincent, the criminal's, backstory is a bit confusing at points, I still don't know if he fought in a war as a modified solider or if there was no war, just scientific testing, but in the end it's not a detail that really matters so even with some confusing parts like that the story still manages to stand strong.
The Audio: I of course watched with the English dub and the cast all sounds pitch perfect, like there wasn't a break between dubbing the show and dubbing the movie (I don't know if there was or not but point made). The new characters also sound rather solid, I was a bit confused why one character had an Australian accent (I can only guess they had an accent in the Japanese version), but other than that everything was spot on. It was nice to hear the Cowboy Bebop music as well, there weren't any new tracks that stood out to me but overall everything fit very well.
The Visuals: As is the case with many movie properties of anime series, the movie looks a bit better than the series with crisper lines, richer colors, and doesn't skimp on the fight scenes which all looked really good. There wasn't any really noticeable CGI in the film, and while I have nothing against CGI it just feels more impressive to see everything really well cel-animated, and I was overall impressed at how good a ten year old movie looked.
So I'm adding this to my to-buy list as well (and it reminds me how I need to get a move on on these Bandai titles, ugh) and really there's not much to say. If you like the show you'll like the movie and you already know what to expect, there's just not much to say beyond that.