Shockingly enough, I have not watched a ton of garbage this month, which is normally something I like to do from time to time. Watching good films is great, don’t get me wrong. But for a trashy connoisseur like me, nothing hits quite like a really, really bad film. So I decided to watch this.
It was disappointing.
“‘It was disappointing’? You’re speaking on one of the most reviled films ever! Hundreds of thousands of people think this is complete horseshit!” Indeed, Dragonball Evolution is the result of a bunch of old dudes in suits looking at a popular anime and going, “Okay, how do we make this as white as possible?” Such is the result—Goku is a “geek” and painfully awkward/horny. He is also played by a Canadian. Yamcha is played by a forty-year-old. Piccolo is the villain and does basically nothing the entire film. All this? Just the tip of the iceberg.
When I say this was “disappointing,” this was not meant to imply I had any hope for it. I knew it was terrible, I knew of its infamy, and I was aware of the multitude of changes they made to Americanize the product. That was never in any question. What’s disappointing is that it wasn’t funny. Nothing about this is funny, save one scene. “Sad” would be the more appropriate adjective. How I hoped this would be some splendorous masterpiece of failure that would reap such sweet insanity that would obliterate my funny bone.
Instead, it’s just boring. A definitely incompetent work with no clear substance or soul, made purely for a quick cash grab. Lots of things are presented like a puppet show and not given any context or pre-warning. Piccolo was once banished using some random spell—now he’s free. Because. Yes. Goku is some stupid bitch who is bullied at school. Because. Yes. There are several hundred uses of guns in this film. Because. Yes. Have you ever tried combining multiple colors of play-doh hoping for some cool combinations, only to have it come out a disgusting gray-ish brown? Yeah.
Performances range from mediocre to annoying—though to their credit, the writing is reeeeeeeeeally dumb. Emmy Rossum as Bulma is probably the strongest, if not for Randall Duk Kim as Grandpa Gohan. Goku, besides the fact that it is totally not racist that he’s the lead and they decided to make him white, is such an unlikable little shit. Believe me, it is really hard to not want to compare it to the actual Goku, who’s just an innocent goofball who loves fighting. This Goku is awkward, arrogant, motivated by hot Asian tits, and has a face that could put the dopey Napoleon Dynamite to shame.
The subject of the comparison to its source material is one I find interesting to consider. What if this was someone’s first experience with the Dragon Ball franchise? Would they find it so despicable? Maybe. I’ve always liked Dragon Ball (Z), so I’m not the one to talk to about separating the two here. I can attempt to predict, however, given I am a reasonable adult and think this ‘Merican adaptation is more funny than infuriating.
Circling back to disappointment, Dragonball Evolution is not the worst film I’ve ever seen. Completely disregarding comparing it to Dragon Ball (tall order, I know), it’s mostly just boring and stupid. It’s absolutely bad, but worst film ever? Nah. Hell, Rocky III pissed me off more than this. Watching this was like watching a wall. Therapeutic in the sense that you can zone out and nothing of consequence occurs. Things happen. People say things. Sometimes colorful explosions happen. Goku turns into some horrific monkey CGI thing. That was horrifying.
But, given this is the real world and people should absolutely be critical of whenever big-wig studios adapt stories with established characters, identity, morals, and what-have-you for the sole sake of profit, this is an easy 1/10. This doesn’t deserve anything more than a 1/10, even if it was moderately competent. It’s funny that this exists, though it’s also a reminder that Hollywood doesn’t give a fuck about anything so long as it sucks the human population dry of their hard-earned pay.
It made $9.36 million dollars in the United States on a $30 million budget. (It made $46.36 million outside the U.S.)
That one funny moment I mentioned? It was a Wilhelm Scream. There’s a Wilhelm Scream in this film. They just couldn’t resist. Took me by complete surprise and broke my streak of emotionless watching, giving me some form of emotion. How dare it do that.
If you’re that curious to know just how much this gives the Dragon Ball name a wedgie, I would definitely recommend it. Emmy Rossum is very cute and it would probably be funnier if one made a drinking game out of how many things they changed. Probably. I don’t drink. I’m ending this as abruptly as this faithful adaptation™ ends.
Final Score: 1/10
The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.
For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!