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May 4, 2009 | by  | in Film |
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Dragonball Evolution

Dragonball Evolution has been getting a lot of flak, people saying it will make your childhood the victim of a heinous crime from which it will never recover (the words rape and murder have been bandied about a lot).

I’m not going to challenge this flak—rather, I will assure you that this is no childhood-murdering film. Dragonball is the kind of film that accidentally stabs your childhood multiple times in the chest with a kitchen knife, and tries to get help, but can’t because the phone lines are disconnected because it didn’t pay the power bill and it and your childhood bought a house in an isolated location.

Extended metaphors aside, Dragonball is not very good, but that’s not for a lack of trying on the director’s behalf. James Wong (director of Final Destination 3, a guilty pleasure of mine) clearly knows how to point and aim a camera, and he usually gets a pretty stylish result out of pointing and shooting said camera. The CGI is also generally pretty good, though at times the film ends up displaying some quite ugly atrocities of human invention (for example, a giant monkey thing that looks like someone put fur on the Scorpion King from The Mummy Returns). All in all, Dragonball looks surprisingly good—accomplished and vibrant, like Speed Racer taken off Prozac and sugar-balls.

However, nothing else in the film lives up to the visuals. The acting quality is inconsistent at best and downright awful at worst—the ‘teens’ may look the part (Justin Chatwin as Goku has really creepy anime eyes) but seem to lack the capacity to emote, and Chow Yun-Fat and James Marsters are marvellously over-the-top in roles that leave them little opportunity to do otherwise.

Added on to such shoddiness is the badly-paced, incoherent, horrible script, full of bung lines (mostly said by Yamcha, an obnoxious ‘bandit’), ass-pull plot developments (Yamcha’s introduction), unnecessary romancing (Bulma and Yamcha’s whirlwind ‘romance’) and badly realised characters (Goddamned Yamcha). Furthermore, it’s at least half an hour too short, over before it can really kick into gear and grab a hold of the audience, and the sequel hook at the end is really quite terrible.

However—and I may be alone in thinking this—I’m hoping for a sequel. Childhood manslaughter aside, Dragonball Evolution is full of promise, and maybe one day that promise will be realised. Until now, though, that promise has been vomited on and left in the gutter.

Written by Ben Ramsey
Directed by James Wong
With Justin Chatwin, Chow Yun-Fat, Emmy Rossum, Jamie Chung and James Marsters

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