Dear earthling, this is a series called the Dragon Ball ABC. Every week we take a letter of the alphabet and take a look at a character or a thing with the biggest influence on the Dragon Ball universe we all love. So if you’re into Dragon Ball you better buckle up, because we’re bringing you 26 weeks with peeks into the amazing world of Dragon Ball! Since we’re diving into some of the nitty gritty of Dragon Ball, an obvious spoiler warning applies!
So I don't know how this happened, but I completely messed up. As you might know, last week we covered Goku. Somehow I completely forgot that the alphabet also has the letters E and F. Maybe I was just really excited to get to Goku, maybe I have early stage amnesia, I have no idea how it happened. But anyway, without further ado, your favourite in the series: Dragon Ball Evolution!
Please don't shoot me! Dragon Ball Evolution absolutely was a turd of a movie, but we do have to cover it. Stick with me through this and I'll explain why Dragon Ball Evolution does matter to the Dragon Ball universe. I promise I won't try to convince you that you should actually go see it, because you shouldn't.
For those of you who don't know Dragon Ball Evolution, this is your unlucky day where you are going to learn about the worst thing in the Dragon Ball universe. Dragon Ball Evolution is a live-action Dragon Ball movie starring Justin Chatwin, Yun-Fat Chow and Jamie Chung. Directed by James Wong and released in 2009, it grossed about $57.5 million. In a nutshell: Dragon Ball Evolution is terrible if you're not a Dragon Ball fan and it's terrible if you are a Dragon Ball fan.
If you're a Dragon Ball fan: sure, the movie puts in effort to connect with the Dragon Ball universe and there are a lot of easter eggs, but there are some huge flaws in the concept of the movie that makes it fail miserably. First of all, the Dragon Ball franchise is built on amazing visuals. Ki-blasts as big as a house, exploding auras, flying people and fights at the speed of light absolutely blow you away and are a reason why Dragon Ball does not necessarily need top notch writing. If the story part of an episode isn't as elaborate it can still be very enjoying if someone just destroys half a city with a single attack. Evolution doesn't do this. It has the ki-blasts, it has the flight and it has the martial arts, but it's all boring to look at if you're used to the anime visuals. Second, it covers pretty much the entire original Dragon Ball saga. From grandpa Gohan's death to Demon King Piccolo's defeat. In 1 hour and 25 minutes. The standard Dragon Ball episode is about 24 minutes, exclude some flashbacks, intro and outro and you're left with about 15 minutes of actual episode. There's 153 episodes of the original Dragon Ball, times 15 makes for 2295 minutes of Dragon Ball which is roughly 38 hours. Meaning Dragon Ball Evolution tries to cover 38 hours in just under 1.5 hours. It doesn't work.
If you're not a Dragon Ball fan: the acting is bad, the CGI is bad, the story is rushed and probably doesn't make a lot of sense. You might just enjoy it if you like campy B-movies, but that's about it.
Then why does Dragon Ball Evolution matter to the Dragon Ball universe? First of all, it taught us that if you want to make a good Dragon Ball movie you're going to have to put a lot of effort into the CGI and effects. As I said earlier, Dragon Ball partially thrives because of it's amazing visuals. It might not be a very well thought out and in-depth part, but humans like looking at pretty things.
Second, it tells us that a live-action Dragon Ball movie is possible. Evolution can be a reference point for someone more ambitious, it can be a catalyst for a director and Dragon Ball fan to say "hey, you know what, I can do that too, but I can do it a lot better". People who watched the original Dragon Ball and more specifically the Dragon Ball Z series (which brought DB it's mainstream popularity) are now generally somewhere between 25 and 40 years old. Hopefully there is someone in that group, who grew up as a massive Dragon Ball fan, that is now an up and coming director dreaming of directing an amazing live-action Dragon Ball movie.
Third, it showed us why the anime is so great. Re-runs of the dubbed Dragon Ball Z series had just ended a year previous to the 2009 Evolution movie, but the original Dragon Ball had not been on television for a long time. So while Dragon Ball Z was still in recent memory, Dragon Ball was not. Perhaps Evolution has inspired many to go have a look at the first 153 Dragon Ball episodes and if that is true, then Evolution's existence is justified.
All in all we're going to keep this one short, since Evolution does not need too many words. But next time someone complains about Dragon Ball Evolution, please remind them that this movie does have its place in the Dragon Ball universe and that it makes us appreciate the anime even more.
What do you think of Dragon Ball Evolution, did you like it or not? Leave a comment or check out the other entries in PlanetGoku's Dragon Ball ABC.
We'll leave you with some live-action Dragon Ball, if you can stomach watching it.