I may lose a few loads of any credibility my opinion site has managed to get me in the last month, but I don’t care. Dragonball Evolution was a pretty decent manga live action movie. You may have seen the trailers and the posters, hell you probably laughed as heartily at them as I did. The special effects looked like they had been copy pasted from the mid 90’s cult classic “Mortal Combat” which was awesome. Beyond that, choosing Justin Chatwin, the guy who played Tom Cruise’s son in “War of the Worlds”, to become”Goku”, the main protagonist from the manga, seemed like Hollywood’s bastard attempt to create an anime live action anglo friendly box office titan. It may have well been, but Chatwin was pretty kick ass to say that he didn’t have a whole lot to work with.
11-14 year old boys would probably adore this flick. There are plenty of cute girls, great fighting scenes, and some nice fantasy elements to aid the retelling of one of the most popular mangas of all time. Having never read more than 2 pages of the manga, I found that the writer did a good job of explaining the story without alienating a non Dragonball fan.
“Dragon Ball: Evolution” is the story of a unpopular teenaged boy named Goku, who is found by an old martial arts expert who raises him as his grandson. On Goku’s 18th birthday his grandfather gives him a dragonball. There are 7 Dragon Balls spread all over the Earth and whoever possesses all seven can summon a dragon who will grant any wish. Piccolo, an evil alien demon, comes to Earth in search of all the Dragon Balls so that he make a wish to destroy the planet. Lord Piccolo (James Marsters, Spike from Buffy) and his faithful sidekick (Eriko Tamura wearing a bad wig) have descended on Earth to appropriate all seven Dragon Balls, so that they can destroy the planet. Bulma (Emmy Rossum of Phantom of the Opera with a silly blue hair streak), a scientist who wants to use the Dragon Ball’s as an energy source (go green!) finds Goku at his house with her Dragon Ball Energy finder. Together they start a quest with Master Rochi (Chow Yun Fat), Goku’s Grandfather’s Trainer, to find the Dragon Balls before Lord Piccolo so they can save the Earth.
While true fans of manga will be shocked and appalled by the story’s modification and the anglo “Goku” who does not have a tail, viewers who are just looking for a good time at the matinee will not find any harm. The actors and actresses all seemed to be in good spirits, Yun Fat yucks it up as “Master Rochi” in his Hawaiian shirt, Bulma’s love interest Yamcha (Joon Parks, huge in Korea, unknown in America) is charming and fun as a hustlin surfer dude, and Chatwin’s Goku is pretty charming and likeable. Even Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson shows up in a brief role as a monk . Ernie Hudson is 63 years old, I can hardly believe that.
The special effects came to the aid of a slightly soft script, adding nicely to slowed down fight scenes, dynamic alien space ships, a fucking dragon, and amazing Buffy the Vampire Slayer makeup for Lord Piccolo, a demon who was imprisoned for 2,000 years and is a wee bit vengeful about it.
Overall this movie was a fun watch, coming in at 86 minutes it had amazing pacing, I also had a few laughs “with it” as opposed to “at it”. Weirdly enough I’m pretty interested in seeing the promised sequel. All in all, a better picture than “Race to Witch Mountain”, so if you’re stuck babysitting your little brother this weekend take him to see this one. It will probably rank number 10 at the box office this weekend, though it’s been very successful in Asia, but it still deserves a fair shot for being entertaining.