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I rather enjoyed Dragon Ball, the original series. I also somewhat liked the follow-up series, Dragon Ball Z, though became disinterested when battle after battle seemed to last for entire seasons. The next series, Dragon Ball GT helped bring me back into the series, though unfortunately I was never able to see the whole thing. And now we have Dragon Ball: Evolution, the live-action feature film based on this unusually long-lasting franchise. I should say "loosely" based... or "very loosely" based

The story and characters here differ significantly to the series, which will certainly disappoint fans of the show, though it is understandable. Anytime an intricate story of adventure with rich characters are condensed into only ninety minutes, a lot is going to be lost and need modification in order to make sense. This is why I am so not looking forward to the live-action feature-length version of Avatar: The Last Airbender (that, and it's being written, directed, and produced by M. Night Shyamalan). So if you go into this movie expecting it to be like the show, then you'll most likely hate it, otherwise... well, you'll probably just not like it very much.

The backstory we're given is that a couple thousand years ago a very powerful alien bad guy named Piccolo came to earth during an eclipse and attempted to destroy the world with his pal, Ozaru. So he's super powerful, too powerful to kill, but a bunch of monks were able to create an enchantment to imprison him... and with Piccolo imprisoned Ozaru just disappears somehow. It's not explained how or why, he just does and we're supposed to accept it. And we're not really given a motivation for why Piccolo wants to destroy the world, so we just have to accept that it's because he's evil.

Now it's present day, and Piccolo escapes from his prison not too long before another eclipse is supposed to take place. Well, isn't that convenient! But how does he escape? I don't know, because they never cover that. But now he's out, and so he takes off searching for the mystical magical Dragon Balls, which will supposedly grant any one wish once they're all brought together. But where's this mysterious Ozaru that we've heard about but never seen? Piccolo's back so shouldn't he be back as well? Guess not, but he does have some chick named Mai helping him out.

Anyway, lets move on to the star of the show, Goku. We meet this super-powerful highly-skilled martial arts warrior on the eve of his 18th birthday as he shows off his talents while training with his grandfather, and by talents I mean obvious wirework and CG effects. Not that I'm against those things, as they were both used to fantastic effect in Iron Man, but c'mon, at least make it look natural. Next, we see him being bullied by some of his classmates, because he refuses to fight. What the hell? So the only two options you have when being bullied is to take it or to throw punches? And then later these bullies run over his bike with their car, and again taunt him, and again he doesn't do anything! I'm not saying he should kick their ass, but he could do something... like maybe destroy the car so he can get his bike out from under it.

Anyway, lets move on to the story. On his 18th birthday, Goku returns home from a party to find his house destroyed by Piccolo and his grandpa dying. Before Grandpa Gohan dies, he tells Goku to find Master Roshi, but before he can do so a girl named Bulma shows up at his place. She recently had her family's Dragon Ball stolen, and her Dragon Ball detecting radar device led her to Goku, though she soon finds that Goku's four-star ball is not her five-star ball. So together they go off to find Master Roshi, and get his Dragon Ball.

They find him without much issue, and Goku does a bit of non-interesting training with him, and eventually the three of them go off to find six-star ball, but wind up falling into a pit trap set by the bandit Yamcha. This Yamcha doesn't have the fear of women that his anime counterpart has, however. Here he's just a nondescript character who's trying to be cool. So the four of them eventually dig their way through to a volcano or some such stupid thing where they find a Dragon Ball and battle with Mai and some regenerative creatures.

And that's the end of the quest for the Dragon Balls, because they have three and Piccolo already has the other four, so after a stop at some temple it's time to move on to the finale. A particularly weak battle ensues, and it's here we learn that Goku is actually Ozaru, the giant ape-like creature! Of course, this would come as no shock to fans of the show. What would come as a shock, however, is that Ozaru is not a giant king-kong sized creature that can only be stopped by chopping off his tail, but rather a more normal 6-8 foot creature that has no tail and can only be stopped by him thinking really hard... yeah. I could tell you what happens to Piccolo and to the Dragon Balls, but do you really care by this point? Nah, didn't think so.

When I think Dragon Ball, I think grand adventure and hardcore battles, but this film had neither. It felt very short, and very weak.

DVD Special Features:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Goku's Worout
  • Brian Anthony "Worked Up" Music Video
  • Gag Reel
  • Fox Movie Channel Prensents: Making A Scene
  • Fox Movie Channel Presents: Life After Film School With Justin Chatwin
  • Garfield's Pet Force Trailer

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