Like many other adults by chronological age only, I would really like to see a live action version of this:
But, when I heard that 20th Century Fox Studios was going to try, I didn’t have high expectations. I thought maybe it would suck and yet would still be kind of entertaining.
I was wrong. It sucked and it wasn’t even entertaining.
As far as what they did right: -The Earth in the movie wasn’t quite our Earth, but more of what it is in Dragonball. While there were no humanoid-animals or dinosaurs, there were cities with sci-fi technology juxtaposed next to bronze-age villages. I’m surprised they went so far as to include this. -Many of the characters’ visuals were pretty good. I think Goku, Chi-Chi and Bulma were all spot on, especially Bulma, as Emmy Rossom’s eyes already look cartoonish. -They started with Dragonball material, rather than trying to jump straight to Dragonball Z. -Chow Yun Fat’s Muten Roshi was pretty good considering his character’s look was the furthest away from the source out of any in the film. Ironic, really.
That’s about all the positive parts I can recall.
I want to say the worst thing about the movie was the characters, but that gets bumped to number two when put against the script. I don’t mean the plot part of the script, but the actual words on the page. The lines were cheesy and felt like a 4th-grader wrote them. I feel bad for the actors, because you know they put what they had into this, but there was nothing to work with. It made me wish I didn’t understand English and was actually reading Engrish subtitles, because then there would be an excuse for poor wording. Lines like Goku’s, “I just need to believe in myself,” were as embarassing to watch as they were wrong for the character.
As noted, the characters were extremely F’ed up. This is bad because that’s the most important thing. I would have rather the storyline be nearly completely changed as long as the characters were roughly the same. In many places, the characters were the exact opposite of what they should be. Goku, a character who in the original storyline is probably not even literate, is in high school? He is shy around girls and gets bullied by the popular kids? Chi-chi is more of a fighter than Yamcha (who uses guns??)? Even with these characters being so far from the source, they didn’t bother to flesh out the changed versions of the characters.
Here is what should have at least been entertaining, but wasn’t: the fighting. Goku vs. Muten Roshi was OK, as was the comedic Goku vs Mai fight. But, Goku vs Picollo was a huge let-down, ending after one punch and a ki attack. You have to at least let the main character get knocked around a little bit before making a comeback. The wire-fighting aspect was annoying too. Goku vs Gohan had them standing on clotheslines ala Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon? Nothing like this ever saw its way into Dragonball. The characters either flew or they didn’t, not any of this Hong Kong, halfway in between bullshit.
I wish I was just nitpicking here. If I were nitpicking I would complain about a healing Kamehameha wave (that’s what Senzu beans are for), King Picollo not looking old and not having real antennae, Shenlong looking horrible, Oozaru form being half as large as it should have been, Oozaru form not looking like an ape, how “defeating” Oozaru went all wrong as Goku should have fought Picollo in that form and then Picollo would have to figure out how to change him back, etc. If these details were just wrong, like Goku not having a tail, that would be OK, but they’re not wrong as much as they’re bad.
As for a sequel, the actors all signed on for two more movies. It cost $50 million to make DB:E, which isn’t much. Compare this to the Super Mario Brothers movie that no one saw, which cost $48 mil to make. Dragonball: Evolution has made half that back in Asia theatres alone, so I’m fairly certain it will turn a small profit, unlike Super Mario Brothers which couldn’t recoup half. I really hope they will stop here and then someone else will come back in 10 years to try again, kind of like what happened with the Hulk movies. Barring that, I hope the producers, writers, and directors get a clue between now and the next start of filming.