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.