Dragonball Evolution

April 16th, 2009 Film, Film Reviews, Xpress

How do you compress down a beloved anime TV show with several hundred episodes under its belt? First, hire the hack director who did the Final Destination movies and a cheap bunch of actors of the ‘where have I seen him/her before?’ type. For the record, you last saw Goku (Justin Chatwin) as Tom Cruise’s son in Spielberg’s War of the Worlds – unless you caught the little-seen The Chumscrubber ? an Emmy Rossum as Kurt Russell’s daughter in Poseidon.

Second, lift whatever tired, creaky conventions you can from every other movie there’s ever been about teen angst, special effects-driven kung fu action of ancient Asian curses. You’ll recognises riffs of everything from Big Trouble in Little China to The Karate Kid and countless others.

Goku (Chatwin) is an outsider, living with his loving Grandpa who’s trained him in the ways of CGI martial arts from his youth. Everything looks peachy when his grandpa gives him a sacred object — one of the seven mythical Dragonballs — and he makes headway with the beautiful Chi Chi at school when his grandpa is attacked by the demon-creature Piccolo, who’s escaped from his prison after trying to destroy Earth two thousand years ago (etc, etc).

So Goku heeds Grandpa’s dying advice to collect all seven of the Dragonballs, the only way to release the dragon and return the evil Piccolo to his ethereal prison.

The problem of compressing so much story into such a short time is evident by the way the movie glosses over the main characters falling into each others’ way, far too conveniently and with friendships blossoming way too fast. Combine that with dialogue, scene structure you’ll be able top predict with complete accuracy before it happens and you’ll understand why this is being marketed to 12 year olds.

20th Century Fox have reportedly spent $100m making it, though where all the money went is a mystery. Perhaps it was to the Japanese rights-holders, because it certainly didn’t go into script development, acting classes or the bargain basement special effects.

If you’re an adult male, the one saving grace will be all the heaving cleavage on show by Rossum and co-star Jamie Chung, at times making you think you’re watching Girls Gone Wild; Ancient China.

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