A Step Backwards

Justin Chatwin in Dragonball Evolution (2009)

Teenager Goku (Justin Chatwin) wishes he could be just another teenager but he knows he isn't and when his adoptive grandfather, Grandpa Gohan (Randall Duk Kim), is mortally wounded he requests that Goku goes on a quest to find all seven Dragon Balls having received one for this 18th birthday. It is highly important that he succeeds as the evil Lord Piccolo (James Marsters) is also after the Dragon Balls as he wishes to use their mystical power for World domination.

I knew nothing about Dragonball before watching "Dragonball Evolution" and having watched it I know little more than what I started with. As such going on what I watched I would have no idea whether "Dragonball Evolution" was authentic to its Manga roots or was a complete and utter travesty which destroyed all that made Dragonball popular. Going on what I have read it seems like it is a poor movie and not just for those who watched because of their fondness for the original Dragonball but in general audiences seem to dislike it. In truth I didn't hate it like others but neither did it do a great deal for me.

The thing about "Dragonball Evolution" is that it is a set piece movie, the sort which these days make it all about the special effects. As such whilst we have this storyline of Goku seeking out the Dragon Balls and meeting various people on his quest what we really get are a set of action set pieces from an early training session with Goku balancing on a couple of ropes to the more elaborate combat scenes. And because we have action which is not physically possible we have loads of special effects and quick edits to make the impossible seem possible. But that is it and whilst the cast have an appealing look the characters are uninteresting and like the movie are all about their looks.

What this all boils down to is that "Dragonball Evolution" might be entertaining for say 10 year olds who will enjoy all the special effects and out of this world action but for anyone else, especially those who are fans of Dragonball, they are likely to find this a shallow visual experience.

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