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DVD Review: Dragonball Evolution – Z Edition

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Adaptations can be hit or miss, be they comic, video game or cartoon. Dragonball Evolution is the live adaption of the hit cartoon Dragonball.

Thousands of years ago the evil warlord Piccolo (James Marsters) and his werewolf sidekick Ozaru came to Earth during an eclipse to destroy the world. Fortunately a group of monks were able to create the Dragonballs to imprison Piccolo and Ozaru vanished.  In the present, Goku (Justin Chatwin) is given a Dragonball by his grandfather Gohan (Randall Duk Kim) on his 18th birthday. Coincidentally that’s also when Piccolo escapes and starts his hunt for the seven Dragonballs, for if all seven are in the same place, one wish will be granted.

Piccolo wants to have Ozaru return so they can pick up where they left off. While Goku is at school dealing with the angst of being a loner in high school, Piccolo shows up at his house looking for one of the Dragonballs and snuffs out Gohan; but not before Goku comes home to the ruined house and finds his grandfather in time to hear his dying words. He tells Goku to find Master Roshi (Chow Yun-Fat), and fulfill his destiny by calling up the Mafuba, which is the enchantment that imprisoned Piccolo the first time.

Goku finds Roshli and trains him. Once Roshli feels he’s ready, they go off to find Piccolo and end the villain’s nefarious schemes and a great battle ensues. The movie is loud and full of action, but there’s little in the way of explanation, such as where Ozaru went to when Piccolo was imprisoned and how Piccolo escaped his imprisonment.  Fans of the cartoon shouldn’t have a problem following along, but first time viewers might be put off by the lack of details.

As for extras, there is no commentary which is disappointing as it would have been nice to have the actors talk about their experience on the film or have the filmmakers talk about adapting a cartoon as a live action movie. There are a handful of deleted scenes which didn’t add much to the plot, including a death scene which was more violent than the theatrical version. 

“Goku's Workout” is supposed to be a tutorial of the moves Goku uses in the movie, but just comes across as lame and cheesy. "Fox Movie Channel Presents: Making a Scene" focuses on a fight scene filmed for the movie. The best featurette is Fox Movie Channel Presents: Life After Film School With Justin Chatwin." The interview is about 30 minutes of Chatwin (Goku) answering questions about what it was like to make the film, his past experiences, and his training for the film and his acting style.

As a fan of James Marsters, it’s disappointing that he wasn’t included in any of the extras as he usually has interesting insights on any project he’s involved with.  But ultimately not even Marsters could save this film. Fans of the cartoon might enjoy this adaptation but for newbies, its lack of plot and explanations leave the viewer confused.

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  • ATP

    Fans of the cartoon are furious of the crap display on this dvd like the first Hulk this movie really suck. Like the hair [which was done poorly] the movie didn’t even come close to what is should have been. I hope is someone who knows the essence of the story will rewrite and make a good movie out of Goku and his life story. And get it right like the second movie made of the “Hulk”.

  • chuck

    I could not believe this movie was going to come out then they made it crap. how sad.

  • ab medellin

    i really think that the dragon ball evolution movie was made poorly. im a big fan of the cartoon and to see this movie was a disappointment. i dont know who wrote the script but they dont know nothing about the cartoon and how its supposed to be. and the effects should have been alot better kinda like the matrix movies and how stuff should break or blowup considering how strong they are in the cartoon. by the way goku should have looked like goku in the cartoon with the hair and the body type as well. i really hope the next movie comes out with a little more effects and more to the story line and characters.

  • Rox

    I’m a fan of the series and the manga and Once upon a time ago I used to own the whole of both versions, I have seen the movie and I love it. If you actually look there are Actor commentary from more than Justin Chatwin, even Akira Toriyama, creator of the Dragonball series himself comments on it.

    He said He loved the movie and has stated he veiws the movie as an Alt. Universe to the original Dragonball series and Keeping that in mind, real Dragonball fans should have a more open Mind about it. the rest of the cast and crew have said they had fun and both during and after filming they loved how the film turned out.

    So all you guys that are still complaining about this movie and saying how bad it is, You’re way too Biased for your own good; Akira Toriyama says he likes this movie and that should be more than enough for any Dragonball fan. Especially when he’s said he HATES how GT came out, even though he gave the rights for it to be made to a friend of his, Akira Toriyama has said he loathes GT. another chapter involving his original creation and he hates it, yet he LOVES an american movie adaptation of the same creation more than that one part of the actual Anime, that should tell you alot by itself

    to conclude this I’ll say, get over it already, Akira Toriyama like DBE over DBGT, that’s more than enough for me, it should be enough for all of you