In one of his most wry observations aboard the Satellite of Love, Mystery Science Theater‘s Tom Servo said of Invasion of the Neptune Men: “You know, maybe the Japanese didn’t really know they were making a film per se. Maybe, maybe they thought they were working in a different medium, like fabric sculpture.” The thought of such misguided intentions at work is almost enough to grant a pass to Dragonball Evolution, which—what with its aimlessly hyperactive construction and complete lack of substance—suggests less of a cinematic entity than a stale, sugary breakfast cereal complete with bitter aftertaste. Having seen none of the original anime series Dragonball Z, I’m not one to comment on how successfully this film translates the particulars of the preceding material to the big screen. Nevertheless, this being as uninspired as any movie of its ilk, it seems safe to say that any and all defining qualities have long since been lost to the kind of whitewashing typical of mechanized assembly-line fodder (this week: weightless platitudes about finding oneself interspersed with countdown-to-Armageddon hooey!). No surprise, then, that for as unconcerned as Dragonball Evolution is with plausibility (making no effort to craft a cinematic context in which its mythology can function, it sits contently, if obliviously, in the realm of unintended camp), it is even less so with such pesky cinematic elements of style or tone, its action sequences seemingly edited so as to disguise a general lack of necessary footage, while the cobbled-together FX fakery may be the most consistent thing about the entire flippant production. I offer—if only out of pity—props to the cast for proving about as serviceable as is possible in a film that’s been virtually, insultingly photocopied from countless previous incarnations (this has to be, what, the 30th time Chow Yun-Fat has played this role?). A more accurately descriptive moniker would have been Dragonball Stagnation.
- James Wong
- Ben Ramsey
- Justin Chatwin, Chow Yun-Fat, Emmy Rossum, Jamie Chung, James Marsters, Joon Park, Eriko Tamura, Randall Duk Kim
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