Case Number 16960


Fox // 2009 // 85 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 5th, 2009

The Charge

Master your destiny. (The alternate official tagline was "This Easter, the legend comes to life!" but that sounds like a promo for The Passion of the Christ -- BA-DA-BING!)

Opening Statement

Inspired by the world-famous Japanese manga, Dragonball: Evolution sucks.

Facts of the Case

Goku (Justin Chatwin) is a sad orphan, raised by his grandfather, who's training him in the sacred-Super-Awesome-Martial-Art-of-Ka-Pow!!! which involves standing on your hands and hurling the occasional fireball. Apparently, Goku has some sweet destiny lined up for his 18th birthday, but before gramps can slide him the birthday cake, an evil green space man (an unrecognizable James Marsters) and his hot, lethal sidekick lady drop a house on him, sending Goku into a vengeance-fueled frenzy quest to retrieve the world's Dragon Balls and save the planet from special effects. Along the way, he runs into a Chow Yun-Fat (who embarrasses himself) and a girl with a purse that can turn into a motorcycle.

The Evidence

Look, I don't care if you're 10 years old, live most of your life hopped up on Trix, can't get enough of karate punching your younger brother, and eat/breathe/poop all things Dragon Ball -- this movie is likely to piss you off. What a painful, moronic experience this is and that's including the "for a PG-rated kids movie" disclaimer. Kids, you deserve better, especially if you're a Dragon Ball devotee.

There might be a small contingent of the target demographic who won't want to scoop out their eyeballs with a ladle after watching. But if you're a parent of such a child, I recommend an immediate neurological exam.

It's all so astoundingly stupid...and I have a generous threshold for vapid action movies. Take Bulma for example, Goku's female sidekick who has a name like a female reproductive organ. She's the one with the transforming car/wallet. She also has a major in "applied dynamics" and a minor in "tactical weaponry," which, as everyone knows, are popular academic pursuits in well-known college towns like Sarajevo and the Halo rings. When the bad guys decide to kill grandpa, instead of decapitating him or using their super powers to turn him into a bloody cube of meat and hair, they drop a house on top of him, leaving just enough life to squeeze off a few words of wisdom and an important plot point to Goku before he dies. It's a shame, because we're denied such novel sensei gems as "The first rule is: there are no rules,"& quot;Seeing, touching, and hearing are overrated," and something I've never heard in a martial arts movie: "Look within yourself for true power."

Once the movie kicks into full gear, you'll be yearning for the Good Ol' Days with gramps and his endless supply of hack kung-fu dialogue. After Goku meets up with Bulma and Chow Yun-Fat's idiot character, the nonsense skyrockets to theoretical levels. There's a flying SUV, a lava pool that Goku fills with bad guy torsos (really), a wish-granting dragon, Goku turns into a werewolf or something, and there's big exchange of CGI when Goku finally engorges his chi and tosses a gigantic fireball. By that point, the brain has already entered catastrophic shutdown.

If you are intent on taking the plunge into the Dragonball: Evolution swamp, Blu-ray is definitely the way to go. The 2.40:1 widescreen sports decent clarity and represents a moderate, if not jarring upgrade in video fidelity. As incoherent as the film is, the visual effects aren't bad and pop in HD -- watch as Justin Chatwin's calcified hairdo comes alive! The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio is active and loud, boosting the Dragon Ball insanity to ear-porking levels, you lucky dog. Extras are largely disappointing, the highlight of which is a workout video designed to encourage a new level of sibling violence. There's a scavenger hunt game, deleted scenes, a music video, a gag reel, a pair of Fox Movie Channel featurettes looking at the making-of a scene and Justin Chatwin's "after film school" experience, and the obligatory digital copy.

Closing Statement

The Blu-ray's not bad, but the movie housed within will urinate on your soul.

The Verdict

Guilty. This sucks Dragon Balls.

Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 80
Acting: 50
Story: 40
Judgment: 46

Perp Profile
Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)

Audio Formats:
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)

* English (SDH)
* Cantonese
* Mandarin
* Portuguese
* Spanish

Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks
* Deleted Scenes
* Featurettes
* Gag Reel
* Music Video
* Games
* Digital Copy

* IMDb