Review that appeared today in the Fiji Times, written by meeeee :D Also, look at Goku...look at HIM! They didn't even try to get someone who looks like the guy from the anime. Which would have been hard i admit, most peoples eyes aren't huge and anime-like. O_O
The Dragonball series of manga and anime (Japanese comics and cartoons respectively) are extremely popular in the east and west, mainly because of its simple themes and endearing characters. Drawing on the classical story Journey to the West, it follows the life of Son Goku and his quest of self-improvement through fighting a myriad of enemies. The film is loosely based on the source material, with many changes to make it more modern.
The story goes that two thousand years ago an alien named Piccolo and his demon servant Oozaru almost destroyed the earth and seven mystics managed to seal him away deep within the earth. In present times, he has escaped and seeks the seven Dragonballs to revive his servant and destroy the world. Goku with the help of his friends Bulma, Yamcha and Master Roshi, must stop him in order to save the world. A pretty straightforward story, and personally I’ve seen more plot development in an episode of Power Rangers.
The acting is suitably cheesy, with characters cracking jokes at themselves and no one taking themselves too seriously. Even the villain Piccolo (played by James Marsters under four hours of prosthetics) is so over the top that you can’t take him seriously. The only exception would be the main character of Goku, played by Justin Chatwin. In the comics and anime, the character of Goku is someone who is cheerful and revels in meeting new people and then fighting them. In the film, he’s very serious. As a teenager he appears to have no friends except his grandfather and is kind of a loner. He eventually comes out of his shell, but it’s very contrary not only to the character of Goku, but that of the rest of the cast.
The casting of Goku was also a point of contention for many fans of the series. James Marsters doesn’t look at all Asian, which one would assume Goku to look like, since it’s based on a Japanese comic book. However, the film developers have explained that since he’s adopted that they could take some liberties with his look. It’s not a huge deal, but does make the main character seem somewhat out of place.
Ultimately Dragonball Evolution is an action film, and the action is pretty good. It has a healthy dose of humor (which is expected as it was produced by Stephen Chow, who wrote, directed and starred in the excellent Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle) although when it tries to be serious it fails. The special effects are amazing though, with fancy fireballs, explosions and crumbling cities that get a deserved oooh and a few aaah’s too.
In closing, Dragonball Evolution would be the perfect film to take your kids to on a Saturday afternoon. They’ll love the funny characters, boo and hiss at the villain and spend the rest of the day acting out the fighting scenes. Older people though, may find it a bit tiresome, but if you’re looking to escape the heat and eat some popcorn, I can’t not recommend this film.