Review: Dragonball Evolution (1/5)

One hour ago, I was inside Glorietta 4 Cinema 3 attending the premiere of “Dragonball Evolution”. As I walk out of the movie house, it felt as if my childhood is flushed down the drain. “Dragon Ball” (spelled as two words in the original Japanese series, take note of that Hollywood) is not just a hit TV series or a best-selling comic book. It’s a phenomenon. It’s my childhood. Days spent anticipating each episode. Daily allowances put aside to save money to buy action figures and other memorabilia. Moments spent playing Goku and beating the hell out of younger brother as if he is Cell. And now, this movie adaptation comes along to besmirch my fond memories of my favorite anime ever. OK, I’m starting to sound like an abused kid. Inhale. Exhale.

When buzz about “Dragon Ball” being considered to be given a red carpet treatment by Hollywood execs started to circulate in the grapevine, it felt surreal. Shit man, we are talking about the pioneer of anime craze in Asia. While others were skeptical, I was excited. I never paid attention to criticisms that Hollywood will make a mess out of it as it had done in a number of remakes. But as ‘leaks’ regarding the storyline, the characters, and the dudes who will be a part of the cast were revealed, my excitement slowly turned into worry.

“Dragon Ball” in the hands of Hollywood didn’t feel right. They were doing it all wrong. Master Roshi’s hair is gray and he’s wearing a pseudo-turtle shell backpack in the anime. Where is Goku’s tail and youth? He is not a teenager attending high school with the normal brats. Goku is a kid and he is quite barbaric, so to speak. And his hair is not spiky enough! So as the day of the film’s release came closer, I was sure the movie is gonna suck.

But as everyone else who were fans of the series, there was no denying that there was still this smidgen of hope that the movie will live up to the name of the source material. At the least, there was this curiosity on how Hollywood will turn this legendary tale into a live-action film.

Before, I thought those Harry Potter fanatics were nuts for not getting tired of posting derogatory comments on forums saying over and over again that the movie failed to give justice to JK Rowling’s novel. If that was the case, then why don’t they just skip the film? Now, I understand them. So before this review turns into a reflection paper of sorts about my childhood, here are some random critiques of the film:

1. Since they’ve already Americanized the story, I don’t see the point of casting a bunch of Asian actors. I especially hated that dumbass who played Yamcha. Is he Korean? God! I knew it!

2. Following the lead of films like “Babel” and “Crash”. “Dragonball Evoution” tried to have as much diversity in the cast as possible – there’s a black guy, Americans, and Asians who may probably be Chinese, Singaporean, Malaysian, and Korean. All for the glory of racial chopsuey. No problem with that per se, but in this film, it felt odd. The setting is in US (which looks like a deserted Mexico) for crying out loud. And since when did blacks start saying ‘namaste’ while dressed as Buddhist monks? WTF!

3. This is not the “Dragon Ball” we all fell in love with. They ripped off the concept of the seven dragon balls that when gathered together can summon a powerful dragon to grant one wish. They imitated the characters’ names and some of their traits. But the Goku that we know is not the Goku we’re seeing here, neither is Bulma nor Chi Chi.

4. They borrowed random bits and pieces of the anime and slapped it all together in a confusing, incoherent mélange and then called it a movie.

5. The effects were bad. The production design is subpar. The acting is sloppy. Plenty of scenes were unintentionally funny. There were cringe-worthy moments. The cheesiness level is set at a maximum. The scriptwriter must have been watching too much “High School Musical”. And I almost farted due to over-flatulence.

6. And don’t ever, ever forget the numerous plotholes. So many, I lost count. These characters’ actions are not governed by any form of logic and reason. They just do what the story calls for. Once again, sacrificing logic for convenience.

Towards the end of the film when Goku was about to unleash his signature technique, the ‘kame-hame-ha’, I was shaken by a gust of nostalgia. When I was a kid, I always know Goku will win the battle after his ‘kame-hame-ha’ hits his opponent. This time around, nobody won. I really hoped they have never attempted to touch this franchise so that my childhood memories of “Dragon Ball” were left untarnished. Too late, the damage has been done. I’ll sue these motherfuckers!


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