Monday, April 13, 2009

Quick Thoughts: Dragonball Evolution

Here is yet another reason why I should stop going to the movies and picking a random flick to watch. I remember when you could do that and usually wind up enjoying what you picked, but these days you more often than not wind up in the new worst movie of the year. The last time I set foot in a theater was when I saw the abominable The Spirit. Dragonball Evolution was not that bad only because it was too boring to induce the rage I still feel towards Frank Miller's epic fail. But it was still one of the most terrible movie-going experiences I have ever had.

As someone who has little knowledge of Dragonball mythology, I went into this hoping I'd get a decent introduction. Oh no. There's an introduction, but it goes like this:

"Two thousand years ago, the evil Lord Piccollo and his weird dog thing came to Earth and killed everyone. Some sages locked him up in a box forever. Then he got out and now he has to be stopped again."

There are more words in my paraphrasing than there were in the real intro. This movie sets itself up to be geared solely towards people who are already engrossed in DB mythos and know why Piccollo is evil, what his dog thing is, how the Earth survived, how Piccollo freed himself, and why any of this matters. But then it goes and tears said mythos asunder to the point that no fan would recognize a single remnant of their beloved series in this turd of a movie.

The casting is deplorably inept. Goku is played by some emo kid instead of, ya know, a burly muscleman (even I know what the character should look like). An emo kid who cannot act, knows it, and figures that's good enough. Emmy Rossum plays scientist/adventurer Bulma in a polarizing performance. Polarizing because, on the one hand, she's fucking hot but on the other hand she's fucking annoying thanks to this weird, froggy voice she affects to make herself sound like a three AM Denny's waitress. I couldn't decide if I wanted to ram my cock up her ass or ram my fist through her face. Wise Master Roshi is Chow yun-fat, trying really hard to undo all the good will he built up with those John Woo movies and succeeding with flying colors. While his command of English is fine, his school of acting appears to be "act like a fucking asshole". He annoyed the shit out of me.

Easy on the eyes. Torturous on the ears.

The writing is not even pedestrian. It's not even writing. This movie is a series of random events cobbled together with tape and glue like one of those shapeless tongue depressor sculptures kids make in summer camp arts and crafts class. The story, if you can claim there is one, just jumps around without establishing anything. We don't even know why Piccollo is such a threat and since all we see him do in the entire movie is stand on the deck of an airship staring sternly at the clouds, we never get an answer. And that's all he does until the very end when he attempts one attack and gets foiled and killed like a total pussy. Combine that with his ridiculous appearance (his makeup is eerily reminiscent of Vincent Price's Adam West Batman villain Egghead, only even more obviously fake. Seriously, worst makeup in decades) and you have the lamest, nothing-happening villain in years. His sole henchwoman, who is never named or in any way explained, is just a random Asian with moderate fighting skill who randomly develops shape-shifting abilities for one scene and one scene only, and she never speaks. Again, completely pointless and completely undefined.

Lord Piccolo: Be afraid. Try to be afraid.

But if you really want to know what this story is about, I'll sum it up: there's seven balls and if you catch'em all, you get a wish. That's it. Once Goku, Bulma, and Roshi team up every scene begins with Bulma saying "I've got a reading" on her Dragonball tracker, and ends with them finding the ball. Lather, rinse, repeat. There's a non-attempt at a subplot involving Goku's crush on classmate ChiChi (who turns out to be a fighter for no reason other than for her to...just be a fighter for no reason), but it never gets going. She hangs around and has limited interaction and in the end they kiss and it makes no sense. All of this plays out in front of a series of backdrops comprised of matte paintings, foam rubber boulders and the worst CGI scenery since A Sound of Thunder which, for those blissfully unfamiliar with that film, is like saying you've seen the worst disaster since 9/11. The movie has a credit for an art director, but it's an outright lie. There is no direction whatsoever, and this isn't art. The rampant scratches, burns and even missing and jumpy frames in the print (rather shocking for a brand-new movie on opening day) only add to the cheap look of this pathetically designed film.

But I give the movie credit for at least keeping itself lean, as with only six balls to find (Goku has one from the get-go), there aren't that many scenes to be had even with ChiChi and with Piccollo giving the sky the Mike Tenay stare. In fact, this movie barely seems to qualify as feature-length. IMDb claims it's 84 minutes long, but the credits simply must make up ten to fifteen minutes of that. The actual film itself is, at best, around an hour or so and given how bad it is, that's a blessing. Simply put, I couldn't be bothered to pay attention much longer than that. Some people could only stand half of it and walked out. Good for them, and too bad for me I live for such terrible, irredeemable cinema. Honestly, I wanted to walk out right from the first scene. No joke. The instant this scrawny, loser Goku wannabe appeared before my eyes I told myself I should just leave, and I very nearly did. No movie has ever had that effect on me. Not one. When your movie is so bad that the first shot just oozes with bad mojo to the point that I - the man who sat through The Spirit, eXpelled, A Sound of Thunder, The Cave, and countless other cinematic atrocities that somehow found their way to the silver screen instead of DTV - want to leave and not even bother asking for my now-tainted money back, you have failed.

Fuck you.

As I walked out of the theater after seventy mind-numbing minutes, all I could do was loudly shout "God Dammit", to the welcoming laughs of fellow patrons. That defines the experience of Dragoball Evolution. Everyone wants to send it right to Hell and forget it ever happened. I suspect the latter will happen, but as for the former, we'll have to settle for sending it deep into the studio vaults, which is exactly where it's heading.

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