Before seeing a movie based on a franchise, it’s important to remember that things are going to change. It would be impossible for the film makers to make it exactly 100% accurate. Besides, if you wanted that then you should watch the source material.
That being said, Dragonball: Evolution deviates from the original tale by Akira Toriyama in several parts, but manages to stick to several of its roots, such as accurate names from the Japanese source, Goku’s encounters with Bulma and Yamcha, as well as the plan to recapture Piccolo and its results. The actor choices were great, Justin Chatwin as Goku, James Marsters as Piccolo, and Chow Yun-Fat as Master Roshi. However, Emmy Rossum’s dialogue comes off flat and forced in several scenes, while Joon Park’s portrayal of Yamcha sounds exactly like the anime.The action itself is slow to start as the movie focuses on establishing Goku’s social situation in school and his relationship with his grandfather, Gohan. Somehow, Piccolo has escaped his 2,000 year imprisonment and is plotting to unite the Dragonballs for revenge.
There are some great comedic scenes that hearken back to the manga, such as Roshi’s announcement of his greatness with arms extended in the air and a hearty laugh, but all-in-all the film is lacking in plot and action. By the film’s end there are several questions left unanswered and character revelations in regard to the mysterious Oozaru that is expected to be accepted by the audience without any explanation. While the film slowly develops characterization, when the climax comes it feels rushed and hurried, causing the only real action sequence to feel as though the filmmakers were on a deadline and decided to hurry through the last scenes. Piccolo doesn’t really do anything throughout the film, which doesn’t help the audience see him as the “threat” that Roshi and others were making him out to be. When the final fight scene arrives, the audience only has the other characters’ word that he’s tough and when it doesn’t happen the entire film falls flat.
With it’s numerous plot holes and poor action scenes, the movie was still fun to watch. It would have been much better if they had a scene midway through the movie where Piccolo fought Goku and beat him soundly to show just how much the odds were going against the heroes and if the final fight was extended a mere five minutes. However, children should overlook these simple tropes and would probably consider it the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles version film of their youth.
Verdict: If you’re a die-hard fan, save some money and see it when it’s in the dollar theatre. Otherwise, wait to rent it.