Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Dragonball: Evolution

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
5.5 out of 10
Extras Rating:
6.5 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: PG

Starring:
Justin Chatwin as Goku
Yun-Fat Chow as Master Roshi
Emmy Rossum as Bulma
Jamie Chung as Chi Chi
James Marsters as Lord Piccolo
Joon Park as Yamcha
Eriko Tamura as Mai
Randall Duk Kim as Grandpa Gohan
Ernie Hudson as Sifu Norris
Texas Battle as Carey Fuller
Megumi Seki as Seki
Ian Whyte as Oozaru
Richard Blake as Agundes
Jon Valera as Moreno
Rafael Valdez as Butler

Special Features:
Deleted Scenes
Goku's Workout
Brian Anthony "Worked Up" Music Video
Gag Reel
Fox Movie Channel Presents: Making A Scene
Fox Movie Channel Presents: Life After Film School with Justin Chatwin

Other Info:
Widescreen
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 85 Minutes

The Movie:
The following is the official description of the film:

"Based on one of the most popular Japanese manga series of all time, 'Dragonball: Evolution' follows a young warrior on an epic adventure to discover his destiny... and save the world from the forces of darkness.

For his eighteenth birthday, mild-mannered Goku is given a mystical Dragonball, one of only seven in existence, which combine to grant a perfect wish to whoever possesses them. But an ancient warlord named Piccolo has escaped eternal imprisonment and is on his own quest to gather the Dragonballs. Goku must enlist the help of his friends - and the power of his evolving martial arts skills - to defeat Piccolo before it's too late!

Packed with spectacular visual effects, high-flying action, and over an hour of hard-hitting extras, 'Dragonball: Evolution - Z-Edition' brings the legend to life as never before!"

"Dragonball: Evolution" is rated PG for intense sequences of action/violence and brief mild language.

Mini-Review:
I'll admit I went into this movie knowing absolutely nothing about "Dragonball." I had never read the manga and I had never seen the cartoons. But I certainly wasn't expecting much from it and the fact that they never screened it in theaters for critics reinforced those low expectations.

So I was a bit surprised when "Dragonball: Evolution" had some pretty good production values. The sets were good, the makeup was good, and the visual effects were fairly strong. The futuristic settings were an interesting mix of styles of architecture. It also had a couple of good fight sequences. It looked significantly better than the B-movie I was expecting.

But that's about where the good stuff ended. The story had a lot of plot holes, especially to a "Dragonball" newbie. The legend didn't make sense and when a major twist is revealed at the end, you start seeing ways it didn't fit with the rest of the story. And despite being set in the future, it takes a little while to pick up on that. The first third of the movie looks like it's set in a modern California high school. The setting then transitions to the futuristic locations. The audience is kind of blindsided by it.

Halfway through watching this film, my wife came in and I had to bring her up to speed on the story. She says, "Oh, it's like 'Star Wars.'" When you consider Goku is equivalent to Luke Skywalker, Bulma is Leia, Master Roshi is Obi-Wan, and Yamcha is the same as Han Solo, you suddenly see the connection. It was very similar. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it didn't help "Dragonball" either.

"Dragonball: Evolution" also felt very miscast. Though Justin Chatwin was OK as Goku, it felt like an Asian should have been cast in the role. Ernie Hudson also seems out of place as the monk Sifu Norris. The white eyebrows didn't do much for him. Chow Yun-Fat has a lot of life as Master Roshi, but he does seem to take it over the top a bit too much. In one scene he's groping Bulma, in another he's spouting martial arts mumbo jumbo. His transition from clown to savior didn't seem natural.

I'd really only recommend "Dragonball: Evolution" to fans of "Dragonball" and kids 10 and under.

The bonus features are rather lean. There's no commentary or featurette on the making of the special effects. You do get some deleted scenes that reveal a little more about Roshi and Sifu, but that's about it. There's also a music video (with techno pop music if that's your thing) and a gag reel. You'll also find a couple of Fox Movie Channel featurettes on the making of the Chi Chi vs Chi Chi scene, a workout video, and some other minor goodies.

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