Dragonball Evolution

"Bad"

Dragonball Evolution Review


As a director, James Wong has made some interesting films. He was part of the original X-Files team and cut his teeth on the Chris Carter serial killer series Millennium before heading up such genre favorites as Final Destination and The One. Now, he's been burdened with bringing one of manga's most popular titles and characters to life. Already an incredibly popular anime series, Dragonball is a dense, complex universe consisting of 519 individual chapters and more than 42 volumes. Naturally, any movie made of this material would have to concentrate on a single storyline -- in this case, the "Z" mythos. Alas, anyone hoping that Wong could keep this very Asian entry from being "westernized" by Hollywood was sadly mistaken. Instead of something new and unique, we have just another dull teen action film.

On his 18th birthday, Goku (Justin Chatwin) is given a sacred dragonball by his grandfather. Told that with the other orbs in the set, a single perfect wish will be granted, a tragedy sends our hero out to find Master Roshi (Chow Yun-Fat), an old family friend who is the key to unlocking the object's secrets. Along the way, Goku picks up Bulma Briefs (Emmy Rossum), who agrees to help him. With Roshi and desert bandit Yamcha (Joon Park) in tow, he prepares to take on alien invader Piccolo (James Marsters), who along with his assistant Mai (Eriko Tamura) is bent on summoning the dragon Shen Long and ruling the Earth. As the impending solar eclipse signals the moment of reckoning, our group must train to overcome centuries of evil and transform into the ultimate fighting force in the universe.

At its core, Dragonball Evolution is a quest film: a quest for the fabled title talismans; a quest for one character's true origins; a quest for butt-kicking martial arts fun; a quest for epic entertainment within a live-action anime dynamic; and most importantly, a quest for box office supremacy with what is arguably a very niche, very nerd adaptation. That this film fails to offer even a glimmer of any of these various promises is indicative of what's really wrong here. Dragonball Evolution is a translation done by people who lost the phrase book. It's all focus group sameness and preplanned obsolescence. For those who love the cartoon version, the movie will be an insult. For those lacking the basic clues as to what Dragonball is about, this limp, lifeless offering provides little insight.

Part of the problem is the characterization. Anime, by its very stylized nature, requires individuals who are less natural and a little more over the top. Wong, unfortunately, decides to dress things down with a sense of real world authenticity that does the personnel a grand disservice. Then there are the actors. Everyone from Chatwin to Park is playing their scenes as if Dragonball were one Zucker brother away from a spoof. Things only get serious when the fighting begins. Wong does do a mediocre job capturing the fisticuffs, but some of the last minute pyrotechnics are laugh-out-lousy. The rest of the time there's just too much winking at the audience.

Still, if Wong had shown the least little amount of energy, had he amplified the action with the kind of grace and skill that someone like John Woo or Corey Yuen can bring to a project, we wouldn't care about the flaws. Instead, our director seems heavily invested in the Zack Synder school of sudden slo-mo significance, bringing the camera speed down to give a particular punch or kick some comic panel panache. Purists will have more than enough reasons to revile this effort. Novices who shouldn't know any better definitely will too.

Aka Dragonball: Evolution.

Sand Castle: Evolution.



Dragonball Evolution

Facts and Figures

In Theaters: Wednesday 8th April 2009

Budget: $100M

Production compaines: 20th Century Fox, Dune Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

IMDB: 4.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Goku, Joon Park as Yamcha, as Chi Chi, as Bulma, as Lord Piccolo, as Grandpa Gohan, as Master Mutaito, Texas Battle as Carey Fuller, as Emi, Eriko Tamura as Mai, Luis Arrieta as Weaver, Richard Blake as Agundas, Julian Sedgwick as Mr. Kingery, as Master Roshi, Megumi Seki as Seki

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

Advertisement
The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.