Throughout the list of films people have obsessively hated through the years, I notice a few movies that constantly resurface. We all know Scarlett Johansson will be portraying the Ghost in the Shell lady, so people everywhere are already beginning to make comparisons – even so much as to bring up Dragonball: Evolution – which should not be included in the conversation…so why is it? People hate American remakes of originally anime source material. It all comes down to comparisons, comparisons, comparisons. Yet, no one sits down and looks at a movie as it’s own thing, regardless of the source material. That’s where I differ and pride myself in doing…but not knowing anything about the source material definitely helps. I don’t watch anime. This is all I have, so maybe it’s not accurate, but I couldn’t care less about that. How is the movie on its own? Let’s get into it.
The story begins with Goku, who seeks out upon his adoptive grandfather Grandpa Gohan’s dying request to find the great Master Roshi and gather all seven Dragon Balls. Of which he has one, in order to prevent the evil Lord Piccolo from succeeding in his desire to use the Dragon Balls to take over the world. And Goku’s quest is to obtain the mystical Dragonballs before Piccolo does. Written by Anthony Pereyra (IMDb)
Alright, let’s start with the story. It sounds awfully familiar. Why? Currently, in the MCU, those stories are introducing the Infinity Stones with a big bad guy that wants to collect all of them in order to create certain destruction. Also, if you’re a gamer, the Sonic the Hedgehog games have Chaos Emeralds that do exactly the same thing. Then, of course, there is Dragonball: Evolution – which instead of Infinity Stones or Chaos Emeralds, you have Dragonballs. Each of these plot devices respond similar, so it really comes down to how you tell the story in the end. The story is typical and relies heavily on those dragonballs for obvious reason. It’s not a terrible story, but it did need more solid writing and uniqueness, which it didn’t really have. The more the film goes on, the more you lose interest.
What did it have? Well, what about the characters? Apart from recognizing a few recognizable character names like Goku and Pikalo, the characters themselves are ultimately forgettable – and I’m sure that was probably a major complaint among the fans of the series (I’m sure making them American was a part of that as well, but who gives a crap?). The acting was also sub-par to just plain horrible. You could tell when they had to dub over a few lines, so sound editing was a mess at times. There were certainly disappointing elements, even from someone who wasn’t a fan of the original series. Mainly…an overwhelming feeling that it wasn’t really taking itself seriously most the time. Instead, it was trying to have fun…but sometimes that fun didn’t always work.
The best part of the movie was probably a mixture of the martial arts choreography and visual effects. Both of those elements were respectfully done pretty well…so if you’re complaining about the writing, editing, or acting – rest assured that the visuals aren’t all that bad. You can get lost just watching the fights and the magic of the world around them. Truthfully, that’s probably something they knew going in…so it’s possible that they got exactly what they sought.
Dragonball: Evolution was a movie that I have seen once before. I remember saying it’s not my favorite movie in the world, but it’s hardly as bad as anyone says. After seeing it the second time, I do see a few faults that I missed the first time around. It’s far from perfect, and not just because it doesn’t match the source material. It simply doesn’t take itself seriously as it should, and so a lot of the acting, editing, and writing were noticeably off-balance. A younger crowd might not have an issue with the film, especially if they never saw the original anime, but critics will always have an issue with it. Take that as you will.