DragonBall Evolution (2009)
Directed by James Wong
Starring Justin Chatwin, James Marsters and Chow Yun-Fat
This movie was nominated Worst Movie of the Year (2009) by the Golden Schmoes.
The young warrior Son Goku sets out on a quest, racing against time and the vengeful King Piccolo, to collect a set of seven orbs that will grant their wielder unlimited power.
IMDb rating: 2.7
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 14%
Genevieve’s rating: 🔥
Phillip’s rating: 🔥
Genevieve: First off, there are a few important things to know. I have never seen this movie before, and I have never seen enough DragonBall episodes to know anything about the plot. I know what the artstyle is, I can tell you a couple of the names of some major characters, I know what Kamehameha is, but I don’t know the DragonBall Universe at all. Phillip, on the other hand is a lifelong fan. He has seen all the different versions of the show and the movies, including this one. We thought it would be really interesting to get a perspective on this film from both sides. Phillip is obviously bias, but since I have nothing to go on other than vague memories, I would have fresh, “virgin” eyes to view the film from more of a critic’s perspective. That being said, here we go.
First off, I will start with the things I actually did like, few as they may be. There were a couple of “chuckle worthy moments” that helped but they were all within the first 15 minutes of the film, so it is a very short lived experience in the long run. Chow Yun-Fat was also an aspect to the film that i would mark as a positive as well. He gave me someone to root for and like in a way I was unable to do for a single other character in the entire movie. I told you this would be a short list… There really is just not much at all worth seeing in this film.
Now, for what I didn’t particularly like. The lighting was awful. Everything was so bright that when they revealed the plot was going to be a solar eclipse, I was actually given something to look forward too, just in the hopes that the lights would dim a bit. You can see where they are really, really trying to go for the anime style of comedy, fashion and editing but it just doesn’t work. They try too hard to say, “Hey, we are anime!” A more natural feel doesn’t mean that the story and character’s can’t be anime-like. Yes, anime has beautiful overreactions and exaggerations, but they didn’t have to go so far. During the watching, I dubbed Goku as “Bro-ku” so that is how we shall be referring to him in this review. It, in itself, tells you a good portion of how we feel about this version of the character. Without even a frame of reference, I know that this is all wrong. The performance feels like early day Jersey Shore, and I found myself rooting against Bro-ku rather than for him. I blame this largely on two things: the script and the actor. I am not saying that the actor is bad, but he was the result of a series of horrible casting decisions, and a script so horrible that I found myself questioning on a constant bases on whether or not this writer thought his audience was stupid or not. We are reminded of the plot every 15 minutes, as if it is so complicated there is no way our tiny minds can even grasp the magnitude, while in reality it is a plot so weak, I am surprised that it was written by an adult and not the product of an “Author Contest” in a local middle school. The entire atmosphere of the movie is of a parody and not an homage. In the end, I was left feeling confused (at how this ever got the ok) and disappointed (that I ever suggested we watch this). It is not something I would recommend to anyone, and I understand why it is on so many list of horrible movies. It has been added to mine, for sure.
Phillip: Like Genevieve said, I am the resident expert on the DragonBall Universe, as as that representative, let me say this: THEY GOT EVERYTHING WRONG. From character design, to representing the world of DB, keeping the lore correct to making me care about/root for Goku (like the series did so well), it was just wrong. The fight sequences were mediocre, at best, and lasted nowhere near long enough. DragonBall was built on the practice of long drawn out, epicly dramatic fights, and they captured none of that in this movie. They glazed over the history that the movie so desperately needed, and they dumbed the humor down so much that I felt more dumb after watching it.
In conclusion I feel as if someone made a fan fiction of DragonBall, but without being a fan or knowing the first thing about DragonBall. They simply used names and small bits that they have heard here or there and slapped the DragonBall name on the front to sell it.