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Enjoyably Light Hearted

  • Jul 10, 2009
  • by
The Dragon ball name is something that holds a special place in the hearts of many fans, some die hard and some casual. Those hearts were undoubtedly broken when the announcement of an American made live action adaptation of the anime series was to be made. Whether you enjoy this movie really depends on the context of which you watch it. If you watch it and are a fan of the anime and expect it to match what you would see as the greatness of the anime and comics, then you will be disappointed. If you are not a fan but are still expecting a high octane action packed fantasy film, then you're going to be disappointed again. One way I think you would enjoy this, which is the way I looked at it, is if you don't have high expectations to begin with. That may be an obvious perspective, but given the way Hollywood works, quality films based on a comic and anime legacy such as Dragon ball are just not going to happen.

The story focuses on Goku (Justin Chatwin), who seeks out, upon his adoptive grandfather Grandpa Gohan's (Randall Duk Kim) dying request, to find the great Master Roshi (Chow Yun-Fat) and gather all seven Dragon Balls. These seven dragon balls, when brought together allow the one who recites the ancient prayer one ultimate wish. There is a danger that the alien Lord Picolo (James Marsters), who is also on a mission to re-unite the Dragon Balls will succeed in his mission and use his wish to destroy the world. Goku and friends, Bulma (Emmy Rossum), Master Roshi, Yamcha (Joon Park) and love interest Chi Chi (Jamie Chung) embark on the dangerous mission to find all 7 Dragon Balls before Picolo.

When you tackle a comic and anime show such as this, there's a tight rope to walk for the director as he has to decide what can be included and what should be dismissed to combine the right level of real life antics with the fantasy nature of the characters and surroundings. There's also a comedy element that the director had to contend with so getting the balance perfect would be a massive challenge. Luckily, the balance worked very well into what was ultimately a light hearted and enjoyable movie for the whole family. Some of the better fight scenes are very well choreographed and take place during the first 45 minutes of the film and actually one of my favourite scenes places Goku outside a house party, being confronted by a gang of thugs and takes them all out without having to touch one of them. It's a scene that is very well shot and choreographed brilliantly to the point where the CGI moments even seem plausible in a reality situation.

The special effects, for a $50 million budget were really well and managed to convey the epic feel of the plot. However, one thing I didn't find really worked were the environments and the blending of the physical sets with the CGI expansions don't come together very well and it's obvious where the real set ends and the computer set begins. This detracts a lot from the overall feel of the movie and it's obvious that the lack of detail in the real sets compared to the CGI horizons are how it becomes so revealing. Justin Chatwin does a capable job of playing the main character of Goku and it's certainly a brave role to take on as it's undoubtedly a character loved by many and he would expectedly receive massive criticism from the loyal fan base regardless of how good he will have been. James Marsters as Picolo is a good villain but the character itself doesn't have enough air time to really judge the acting ability within the role. Chow Yun-Fat is a delightful addition to the movie and he certainly takes on a comic style that makes him a very delightful comic character and a worthy choice as fight trainer.

I found this a very enjoyable film and as I'm not even acquainted with the Dragon Ball legacy, I suppose that was why I was able to view this film with casual enjoyment. If you are a fan of the comics and anime there will undoubtedly be a plethora of things you can pick out of this film about why it shouldn't be associated with the original anime and comic. My advice would to be just enjoy it as a light hearted feature and not think too much into it as I guarantee you will enjoy it much more.

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More Dragonball: Evolution (2009) reviews
Quick Tip by . May 21, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
A 2009 movie?! Boy, that's surprising! I watched it on TV and definitely wouldn't have paid for it in the movie! It feels like watching Star Trek on TV! Enjoyable but don't go paying big bucks for such movies, even if it's Chow Yun Fat is acting!!! A waste of money & resources especially when so many are unemployed these days!
review by . December 30, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION      I have always been a fan of the Manga series Dragonball by Akira Toriyama and each series afterwards like Dragonball Z and Dragonball GT. I liked the written formats and the animes as well so I was excited when this live action film was announced. I was let down a bit when the trailer was released but I never judge without seeing something first. I missed the theatrical release because of reasons unknown to myself, as I did …
Quick Tip by . December 30, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Now to be honest with you this film is kinda entertaining if you watch it with absolutely no expectations what so ever. For any one whom as know clue about the source material for this or any thing related to it I a pretty sure you would enjoy this.
review by . August 01, 2010
The Dragonball Evolution story comes from an Asian comic book series. I have never read this comic book, but was recommended to watch this movie by fans of the serial. And so I did, and I was horribly disappointed. The entire story is quite original to those who have no background in Asian comic book stories, and I won't go into the details here, but everything else was horrible. First of, why is the main character a white man when the setting is in Asia, and the main character's father is Oriental? …
review by . April 24, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
There's surprisingly little evolving going on in "Dragonball: Evolution." If anything, it de-evolves, taking an archetypal hero's journey and stripping it down past the bare minimum. So many details are either quickly alluded to or altogether overlooked, which essentially leaves us with a fairly bland action adventure story that throws in a little self-discovery for good measure. Based on the "Dragon Ball" graphic novels written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama, "Dragonball: Evolution" is an airy, …
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Steven Stewart ()
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Currently studying Law at University, my main interests revolve around Politics. I read quite a lot and love learning about History. Not just the history of a specific time, place and person, but I'm … more
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About this movie


Co-produced by Hong Kong legend Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle),Dragonball Evolutionis an agreeable if low-wattage live action adaptation of the iconic manga and anime seriesDragon Ball. Director James Wong fuses the series’ fantasy-based characters and devices with a somewhat lackluster storyline involving average teen Goku (Justin Chatwin), who breaks from his wholesale pining for classmate Chi-Chi (Jamie Chung) to that he’s at the center of an intergalactic search for the all-powerful Dragonballs by evil warlord Piccolo (Buffy’s James Marsters). With the help of master Roshi (Chow Yun-Fat, who backburners his stoic screen image in favor of someGod of Gamblers/Once a Thief-level hamminess), Goku develops his fighting skills to take on Piccolo and save the Earth. The film’s abundance of martial arts should please younger and less discerning viewers, but its hackneyed dialogue and sluggish pace (especially in the fight scenes, which stutter where they should flow) may disappoint longtime fans of the book and television adaptations. The CGI effects, which labor mightily to reproduce the source material’s eye-popping look, also fall short, though the cast is game, especially Marsters and Chow.-- Paul Gaita

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DVD Release Date: July 28, 2009
Runtime: 85 minutes
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
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