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Merrick here...
My man Nasty Nick sent in this look at DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION. I'm not sure whether this is the first review to appear online, but this is definitely one of the first (if not the first) review AICN's received for the film. And the verdict? Apparently, it doesn't suck as roundly as many of us thought it would. I've known Nasty Nick for some time now, and his taste in films seems reasonably discerning. If he says this doesn't entirely blow (which, frankly, surprises the hell out of me considering the material we've seen from the movie) - it probably doesn't entirely blow. Of course, what follows isn't exactly a glowing endorsement, either.


Here's Nick...
Dragonball Evolution opens in Japan this Friday, about a month before it does in the states. There is a lot of bad talk about this so I didn't go into this with high expectation. When I first heard back in 2002 that they were making a live Action Dragon Ball (Z at the time) Movie I was very excited. Thinking of the possibilities. Dragonball shares many elements with Superman, Into the west and the fighting in the animation looks like the Matrix on steroids. I have been a big fan of the animation and Manga for a long time now and thought that this could be a epic movie done on a large scale. Who was producing it? 20th Century Fox. Well then I thought they were part of those great X-Men films (1 and 2 at the time) so I had hoped we might get something close to that. This was supposed to be on the fast track for a 2004 release. When news of the live action surfaced the official Funimation site did a poll asking who they wanted Jet Li and Jackie Chan to play. I shuddered. For a long time nothing happened until I read that James Wong was directing this. My expectations did fall. How was the movie? In a word, Kawaii. Cute. There's lots of little bits here and there that fans of the series will enjoy such as a pervy Master Roshi played by Chow Yun Fat, even the animated series they showed in the states and UK cut out those bits. Yamcha is kinda funny in that he sounds a lot like the Yamcha from the American dubbed DB, Emmy Rossim as Bulma was unimpressive. At times I felt I was watching Charactures on screen, they all have their trademarks personalities but not much else behind that. I can understand why a lot of characters aren't in it such krillin, Tien and Chiaotzu. It's hard to fit so many characters and story into a film such as this. Especially one with a running time of 88 minutes. The story is very condensed but it mostly hits all the marks to be near enough to the basic story of Piccolo in the DB Manga. James Marster is coolness as Piccolo however he is on screen for too short time. If there is a sequel I hope we get to see more of his character. Justin Chatwin seems to be channeling Goku a bit. At times he shines as the character. Other times it's a little wooden but I blame that more on the script as he doesn't have much to work with. As for the story it starts with the introduction of the Dragonballs, Piccolo and Oozaru who tried to take over the world 2000 years ago. Piccolo was stopped and put in a prison and Oozaru disappeared. For fans of the show this won't be a big spoiler but for anyone who hasn't seen the animation or read the Manga the spoiler is that Goku is Oozaru. But he doesn't find that out till later. Piccolo somehow escapes but it's not shown how. Goku after his training with his Grandfather Gohan heads off to School. His School scenes are basically a rip off of the first Spiderman film and all those typical films where the guy defeats the bully and takes the girl, Chichi. Anyway, Goku can't kick these guys asses because if he did (and he could) they'd end up in a hospital or worse. So he has to control himself and not fight them. Later he decides to confront them at a party but doesn't fight them and instead lets them hit each other as he dodges their blows in super slow mo, how original.... Fortunately the story moves past Goku in high School pretty quickly and moves onto the real story. Piccolo offs Gohan while Goku is away. Goku Teams up with a girl he meets called Bulma who thinks the dragonballs can be used as an unlimited power source. They find Master Roshi and set out to search for the Dragonballs with the help of a bandit named Yamcha they meet along the way. But Roshi knowing they don't have enough time before a solar eclipse decides he has to learn a special technique to trap Piccolo once again but this will cost him his own life. The film speeds along to the end with Roshi Teaching Goku the Kamehameha, Goku does some training. Chichi has a fight with herself and they all head off after Piccolo. The final action scenes are a bit disappointing. Goku as Oozaru looks a bit silly. I don't think Goku even throws one punch at Piccolo. Instead he uses the Kamhameha against him. By the end after using the Dragonballs to summon Shenron and save guess who they all set off again to find the dragonballs once more. The film isn't bad. Just not great. Suited for kids and curious fans. I guess a lot of stuff was cut from this film. There are scenes in earlier Trailers that aren't in this and gone is the grey looking Piccolo, now he is only green. If they make a sequel and I hope they do. I hope that they find someone else other than Wong to direct this. Make it bigger, more epic, add some more mythology and bring on Vegeta! Nasty Nick

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