By CAINE GARDNER
One of the most difficult genres to bring to the big screen is the art of Manga. It has a rabid following of fans who are reluctant to embrace change and any deviation of the original vision is sure to be met with a skeptical eye.
It's no wonder then that Dragonball Evolution struggled at the box office. One of the biggest hurdles fans had to overcome was the choice of Justin Chatwin at the lead character of Goku.
Dragonball Evolution is quite possibly the best adaptation to the big screen of any Manga offering. Evolution captures the stylistic feel of the world of Dragonball, but is hindered at times by laughably bad dialog and over-the-top wirework special effects. What makes it work is Chatwin and an interesting story that powers through a script with little zip.
Goku is the typical teenager. He's misunderstood, struggles to get the girls and has an inner strength that he has yet to realize. What sets him apart is his martial arts training with his Grandpa Gohan (Randall Duk Kim) and the mysterious Dragonball that his grandfather bestows upon him on his 18th birthday.
After the evil Lord Piccolo kills his grandfather, Goku must track down the remaining Dragonballs before the warlord can assemble them and make the perfect wish of ruling the Earth. 2,000 years ago, the same scenario played out with Piccolo and his disciple Oozaru standing on the brink of ruling the Earth, but before he could make the wish, Piccolo was imprisoned by a powerful enchantment and Oozaru disappeared.
Now it's up to Goku to find the Dragonballs and save the planet.
Goku teams up with Bulma Briefs (Emmy Rossum) to find Master Roshi (Chow Yun-Fat) and continues his training in attempt to find his Ki and collect the Dragonballs before the solar eclipse. Through their travels, the trio collects three balls, until Mai (Eriko Tamura) disguises herself, steals the Dragonballs, thus giving Piccolo all seven.
With Goku's new knowledge of the most powerful Ki, Kamehameha, he, along with Roshi, Briefs and Chi-Chi (Jamie Chung) enter in the final duel with Piccolo and discover the reality that the evil set to destroy the Earth is Goku himself.
Roshi falls during the battle, Goku finds his true self and the evil Piccolo is seemingly defeated. Using the collective power of the Dragonballs, Goku uses his one perfect wish to resort the fallen master.
Chatwin states in an interview that he felt that Evolution would be a movie that would be his big break or his last feature film. In reality, it's neither. Chatwin is a charming, charismatic actor who has a likeability factor that's through the roof. He's talented, believable and, more times than not, good.
Yun-Fat is possibly more over the top in the flick than in any other. Instead of being over the top in action sequences, it's his zany take on Master Roshi that is refreshing and shows the fun side of the actor. He, along with Chatwin, are Dragonball Evolution's saving graces.
Director James Wong delivers a film that is entertaining, energetic and, despite its dismal box office performance, should spawn a sequel. And if you stick with it through the final credits, it seems apparent that a sequel will be on its way.
Final Cut: Dragonball Evolution is a fun film that has nice action sequences, nice acting and a story that begs to be told. Hopefully in its second trip to the big screen, if there is one, the script will match the actor's enthusiasm and give the audience a truly unique experience.
3 out of 5 stars
Starring: Justin Chatwin, Chow Yun-Fat, Emmy Rossum
Director: James Wong
Writer: Ben Ramsey (Screenplay), Akira Toriyama (Novel)
Available now on DVD and Blu-Ray
Check out this Thursday's Marquee for the review of Inglourious Basterds starring Brad Pitt