Friday, 17 April 2009

Dragonball Evolution

Fun, but weak and short...

As an apprentice, Goku (Justin Chatwin) is under the guidance of his grandfather, Gohan (Randall Duk Kim), in martial arts but finds it difficult to adjust to a normative social life. While trying to balance his training with his inept attempts at flattering Chi-Chi (Jamie Chung), Goku becomes caught up in a search with Master Roshi (Chow Yun-Fat) and Bulma (Emmy Rossum) for seven Dragonballs which are to help him save the world from Piccolo (James Marsters), a creature bent on destroying the world.

Based upon a manga and anime, Dragonabll Evolution is not going to win praise for faithful adaptation. Much has been altered, mainly due to the medium being used, but ardent fans will be disappointed. That said, the story is not anything wholly original: Goku is an apprentice who is given the almighty task of saving the world from an evil tyrant, nevertheless the adaptation is intriguing. This film has been given a more close-to-home feel with Goku attending a normal high school and everyday cars are driven, but many elements are amiss. Characters become caricatures of themselves: Bulma is too Lara Croft and Yamcha comes across as too much of a beach bum, and as such characters become less like their original versions. The adaptations work as far as giving an alternative universe to the Dragonball universe, though Goku's most powerful energy attack is given a rather strange twist.

Nevertheless the core problem with Dragonball Evolution is time: the film is simply too short to tell the tale it wishes to tell and a consequence of this is that story arcs develop way too quickly. For instance, the love story between Goku and Chi-Chi, as cute as it may be because two individuals were able to fall deeply in love in such a short time, in not conducive to the overall story as their quick fall into love serves no purpose whatsoever. Even the mystery around the Oozaru lacks any buildup and gets answered under two lines of prose. These are just two of countless elements which occur far too quickly and are never given time to mature, like character development and motivation, making the film far too aimless. Paradoxically enough, the editing department is far too loose and never strict enough to keep scene integration fluid and quick. This all adds up to a film which clearly did not have enough time in its post-production phase: Dragonball Evolution was released earlier than it ought to have.

The acting department is commendable with the actors seeming as if they enjoyed their roles somewhat, but this does not stop some noticeable bland acting. Chatwin begins off on a slow note and, like a few of his peers, appears to act in a rather scripted way. The acting becomes more natural as the film develops but it's disheartening that Fat and Kim overshadow the entire cast. Of course some strange dialogue choices and overemphasis on characters quirks makes it difficult for the actors to truly make their respective character work.

In many respects, director James Wong tries t to make the film feel like a cartoon when he should be focusing on making it a straight live-action. He is not a bad director by any means but his cinematography does not make the action scenes, in which little there are, feel explosive. They feel weak in order to seem non-violent and in here is another gave mistake in the film: it aimed at a younger market then it ought to be.

There is no sex or nudity, except from Roshi's appeal into swimsuit magazines, and language is rare with violence being far too tame to warrant the term 'violent'.

Dragonball Evolution is not a very good film, but it is neither a poor film. There is a clear desire to make the film as successful and enjoyable as possible but the planning and execution is heavily flawed. The story feels ripped from countless other martial arts film, albeit the grandeur of powers the main characters can wield, and the acting or direction never impresses on a high level. The adaptation is not faithful but it needn't be, for Dragonball Evolution ultimately fails because there is not enough time to tell the story it wishes too. With some clear direction and better planning the sequel can be a better received film, but for what it is worth Dragonball Evolution is enjoyable enough on its own terms.


Screen date: 17 April 2009
Release date:
09 April 2009


Farzan said...

Man, I'm going to stay far away from this as possible. I saw the trailers and read fan reviews. None of which sounds promising to me. Which is a shame since I really enjoyed the anime series on Cartoon Network.

movies said...

I am not able to watch this movie as I don't find the link.But it seem a good as it has some very nice martial arts stunts.I wanted to see the movie for sure.