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Sunday, 22 March 2009

Movie Review: Dragonball Evolution

I went to watch Dragonball Evolution last Saturday and quite contrary to what I initially expected I actually enjoyed the movie. Sure it has its plot holes here and there and the actors were painful to watch aside from Goku, Chi Chi and Son Gohan but I still enjoyed the movie. The trick to doing that is not to overthink things and just sit back and enjoy the ride. Bring along your friends who have fond childhood memories of the manga and anime so you can have a good time laughing with them. I don’t mean that the movie is so bad that it’s good but rather that the jokes are actually good. Also don’t go in there thinking that it’s a straight up adaptation of Dragonball or else you’re just going to be pissed during the entire movie. It’s fun to compare the differences between them though. There were some pretty good scenes in the movie too and I actually found the direction better than most of the blockbusters Hollywood is churning out nowadays.

The plot itself made enough sense at the beginning and the middle but they really lay it on thick towards the end. The Oozaru thing should have at least been foreshadowed better even though the fans know what’s the deal with it. Seriously, if I didn’t know anything about Dragonball I wouldn’t be able to accept that being in the movie. The special effects were quite good actually but I just wish they made them more dynamic. Wispy blue flames are impressive in any context but it would have been more fitting to use a “harder” version of it in the Kamehameha showdown scene at the end. Hopefully they’ll correct it in the sequel. Don’t groan! It was an enjoyable movie and with how it sales are going around the world a sequel is definitely coming. The script’s ready too.

The music wasn’t exactly memorable but it did the job and went along with the scenes quite well. I will be getting my hands on that Hamasaki Ayumi song though. The lines themselves had some corny things thrown into them at various parts of the movie but nothing too bad. Goku’s interaction with Chi Chi felt quite natural if you ask me. The latern scene went particularly smoothly for them. The jokes didn’t make me groan at any point in the movie but they didn’t make me laugh all the time either. The implications of some of them did amuse me though. For one thing, I’m still wondering about what happened to bug that got shot into Son Gohan’s mouth. The old man did eat chicken feet so I wouldn’t be surprised if he just ate it then and there.

Rather than the plot, I have a bigger beef with the characters. Despite the complaints about Goku not being asian he was actually the one who gave the best performance out of all of them. Remember! Goku wasn’t even an earthling in the manga so that not asian matter is rather silly. Chi Chi and Son Gohan gave out good performances too. I liked how they still managed to keep Roshi’s character close to the manga’s version but they really chose the wrong actor for it. I don’t care if Chow Yun Fat is asian and is a big name, it still doesn’t make up for the fact that he was disappointing as Roshi. I can forgive him for not wanting to be bald but he didn’t even wear the sunglasses or whiten his hair and beard. He’s a good example why race doesn’t really matter when it comes to acting skills. It seemed like he was trying to act more like a stereotype of those old Chinese martial arts masters rather than Roshi! Did that guy even bother to do the research on his character?! Come to think of it, I’ve never been impressed by any of the asian roles he does.

Bulma’s actor was so-so but there were parts in the movie where it felt like she was just reading straight from the script rather than acting out her lines. Yamcha was the one who annoyed me the most. His character was pretty much the same but the accent he used to speak was terribly, terribly annoying. I don’t know if I could say it was his acting but it’s just that he picked one of the most annoying accents I’ve ever heard! Piccolo’s actor did a good job in showing off a badass evil attitude but I think the main problem is that the choreography for his end of the fights just weren’t vicious enough. He really didn’t carry any of that intensity with him into the fights. Acts of evil destruction, so very YES. Straight up fisticuffs, no. There is a limitation as to what live action can achieve compared to animation after all. It’s odd but it was the characters that had the most changes to their character that had the best performances. Scratch that, they all had changes to fit the actors but most of those actors just weren’t fit for the job.

Basically this is a movie worth watching if you’re willing to give it a chance. It had a lot more good to it than bad and the reason my review contains more criticisms than praise is because people remember bad things more often than good things. It’s never going to be a masterpiece but it is an enjoyably good movie overall. I enjoyed it more than Harry potter movies 3 and 4 and it’s definitely more enjoyable than that waste of hype Twilight. Seriously, I still cannot believe people like it.

Trust me when I say so because my list of what anime I remember watching (Not all of them completely finished though) is more than enough credentials for my level of Otaku-ism. My opinion is a lot fairer than anything a fanboy could tell you. Do not get me started with my list of manga cause unlike my anime DVD’s I never made a list to categorize which ones I own. I am working on it though but it’s hard to remember which ones I’ve gone through. In fact I only just remembered to add in the anime my brother buys and had to check my music files to remember which ones I’ve watched. I do my best not to be biased when I watch anime so that I can pick out the good ones for every season. I do wonder why Toradora isn’t on Chong Hock’s list yet though, it is VERY good.

My last words for this post:

Don’t take the movie so seriously, it’s a homage to Dragonball so enjoy it as a homage!

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