STARRING: Justin Chatwin, James Marsters, Jamie Chung, Emmy Rossum, Eriko Tamura, Joon Park, Chow Yun-Fat

2009, 84 Minutes, Directed by:
James Wong

The best special effect in Dragonball Evolution has to be actor Justin Chatwin’s hairdo. We’re still not sure whether the makeup department used styling gel or animatronics . . .

First, the good news. The Hollywood live-action version of the once-popular Dragonball Z manga doesn’t suck. The bad news is that it is lame, very lame. Dragonball Evolution may not be based on a computer game, but it feels bad enough to be one.

Goku (Justin Chatwin) is a seventeen-year-old orphan who lives with his grandpa who can be best described as a demented Mr. Miyagi, who in-between teaching the super-powered Goku martial arts, cackles a lot whilst preparing chicken feet for dinner. Goku’s school life isn’t much better. Movie plot convention demand that he be picked on by a gang of bullies, and voila! so it is. Goku isn’t allowed to use his super-powers against his tormentors because . . . heck, we don’t know why. Because using them will make him a worse person or something.

One day Goku sneaks to a party where he predictably has a showdown with the bullies and employs a small print in his “no fighting” clause to take them down. Whilst Luke Skywalker, er sorry, Goku is gone though his grandfather is killed by a villain named Lord Piccolo (no, I’m not making these names up) who is searching for seven dragonballs because, well, he has to. The script demands it. (The term “dragonballs” may give the wrong impression here. They are orbs with mystical powers; not what you were thinking . . .) With these MacGuffins in place, it is up to Goku and his new pals as they set off on a whirlwind adventure to stop Piccolo before it is too late. Except . . .

"The cinematography is as ugly as the Hawaiian shirt Chow Yun-Fat is made to wear. . ."

Except while Dragonball Evolution may be passable entertainment for easily impressed ten-year-old boys anyone else would probably want to give it a skip. The movie’s biggest problem is that it is all talk and very little action. The action scenes are all rather perfunctory and underwhelming. The talk consists of a lot of scenes with Mr. Miyagi teaching Daniel san how to use his powers. Sorry, different movie.

The only highlights are Justin Chatwin’s hairstyle and the sight of the usually constipated Chow Yun-Fat loosening up and trying to have some fun for a change. The acting is bad, yes, but it isn’t all the actors’ fault: the dialogue is atrocious. Here and there some of them at least try to have some with their roles and inject some humor into the proceedings.

The other problem is that the special effects are bad, very bad. Some CG landscapes even look as bad as those cardboard backdrops they used in old ‘Sixties Star Trek episodes. (No, really.) Dragonball Evolution is also as ugly a movie as the Hawaiian shirt Chow Yun-Fat is made to wear. Its color palette consists mostly of muted and washed out browns. The cinematography is as flat and uninteresting as the film itself.

Lord Piccolo is played by the usually charismatic James Marsters, Spike in the Buffy TV series. They might as well have hired the Easter Bunny for all we know. Masters is unrecognizable beneath his monster makeup and is about as interesting and threatening a villain as the dog poo that litters the garden on your way to the front gate this morning. The same goes for this movie. Chances are that long-time Dragonball Z fans will also have a tough time recognizing their own beloved anime TV series beneath this by-the-numbers movie. At least the anime had some color, damn it!


Watch Trailer / Clip:






blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

Most Popular

Copyright © 1997-forward James O'Ehley/The Sci-Fi Movie Page (unless where indicated otherwise).