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Dragonball: Evolution- Dropping the (Dragon)Ball on a Possible Franchise

I don’t know anything about Dragon Ball Z, the wildly popular Japanese animated TV show, or anything about the Dragon Ball mythology. However, if it’s anywhere near as dull as this film, I can’t imagine how it became popular. One would think that 20th Century Fox would’ve invested in a strong script, good special effects, and coherent fight choreography. It seems they were content putting the bare essentials on the screen, with some beautiful boring white people as the leads, a Power Rangers-esque villain who is given a bare minimum of screen time (strange considering the film is about 70 minutes long), and some wind effects and glowing balls that hold the fate of the world… or something. It’s overly simplistic yet bafflingly plotted. Many questions are raised that are never answered, which isn’t that bad since we stopped caring about the film at about the ten minute mark. Boy oh boy, did 20th Century Fox blow it.

Goku (Justin Chatwin, who went to the Keanu Reeves School of Emoting) is a young Asian teen… I think. His grandfather is Asian, and no one notices that he seems American. Then again, this land is populated with Korean, Japanese, and Chinese actors, so perhaps the casting is totally colorblind– or the executives wanted white leads surrounded by a smattering of Asians of every sort to give their film “credibility.” Anyhow, he is entrusted with a Dragon Ball. If all seven dragon balls are brought together, then the Dragon God can grant whoever has them one perfect wish. Piccolo (the unrecognizable James Marsters) is the villain, who wants to destroy the world– don’t they all? Goku on his journey to find them all encounters Bulma (Emmy Rossum), Yamcha (Joon Park), and the eccentric and goofy Master Roshi (Chow Yun-Fat, who has never tried played comedy as hard as he’s trying here). The race to find them all is on– which they do with relative ease in one hour, which leads one to wonder why forces of evil hadn’t gotten them way, way earlier. There’s a brief showdown, goodness prevails, evil fails.

There’s not much good I can say about this film. I’m glad Ernie Hudson is on the big screen again, despite looking utterly ridiculous here. The film is short, so it never gets unbearably dull. Emmy Rossum looks cute and sunny, despite a terrible wig and dialogue that feels like it’s from some poorly dubbed Asian film. I’ve never seen Chow Yun-Fat make so many funny faces– take that for whatever it’s worth. The film is kid-friendly, I suppose, aside from some suggestive romantic escapades and a creepy scene of blood extraction. Finally, it is kind of fun for reality TV fans to watch The Real World’s Jamie Chung locked in a kung fu battle with… herself. There isn’t any truly good news. Sorry Dragon Ball fans… the possibility of a franchise with sequels will certainly be dead swiftly after this film. If your first film in a series is a boring, corny 70 minute pile of drivel, and even in Japan it’s failing to make money, then it’s time to pull the plug. Between this and the mishandling of the Wolverine leak, the summer hasn’t begun well for 20th Century Fox…or fans of action hero franchises.

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~ by russellhainline on April 24, 2009.

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