This SC-Fi fantasy film is an adaptation of an internationally popular Manga, Dragonball. The scene is set in the not so far but very different future of earth were Goku (Justin Chatwin) is trying to be typical teenage student. But it’s hard to hide the fact that he is “different” from the rest. . . This is soon revealed as he is needed to stop the evil Lord Piccolo (James Master, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) who has returned to take his revenge and destroy the earth. Goku together with his band of companions, Bulma, (Emmy Rossum, “The Day After Tomorrow”) Master Yoshi, (Yun-Fat Chow, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Bullet Proof Monk”) Chi Chi (Jamie Chung) and Yamcha (Joon Park) must go on an action packed adventure to locate all seven dragonballs and defeat Piccolo once and for all.
The special effects of the film kick of right from the start when Goku is Training with Grandpa Gohan, (Randall Duk Kim) the martial arts and slow time movement combined with the introduction of pace kept me captivated in every fight scene. Then added visual effects to show the fantasy sides of the film were worked effortlessly into the movie, as preformed by Master Yoshi and Goku on his final Air-bender training. Credit has to be awarded to the actors for being able to skillfully act around the special effects and make it look like a seamless transition from recording to computer screen. With the Air-bending special effects capturing some of the essence of the old Dragonball series (Which I was a fan of) there was a few major let downs with the green screen surroundings, this only happened occasionally, such as the scenes of travel on vehicles, this issue did grab my attention and I felt a bit of that rush factor slowly starting to appear. Even so the more visible surrounds always looked vivid and quirky at the same time, keeping up with the soul of some Manga series alike, Volcanoes next to futuristic cities filled with light, the brightness of the fighting arena and the vast middle of nowhere fighting location that you would expect from any Dragonball series, in this case, a ruined temple that piccolo summons from beneath the earth, the special effects in this scene runs future and fantasy side by side and works very well together to keep the action alive.
The plot and structure of the film is what really let it down for me, it all seemed too rushed and hurried to present any depth at all, such as the scenes of instant connection between Bulma and Yamcha that seemed to appear from nowhere, the character introductions and background where explained in a matter of minutes and provided no really immersion into the films state at all, this is true for the introduction of the two characters previously mentioned and master Yoshi as well, I was left thinking that something vital was missing, some more work on depth of character and story plot except that all I was left with was something that could have been great, but seemed too rushed to make any lasting impact on me. The whole film would have been a great setting for another trilogy in the making if the time was taken to apply it in that format, it’s the same with the mismatch of character status and growth throughout the film, like in the first scenes containing demonstrations of piccolo’s power he is able to clear a river of all water and crush a house with a movement of his hand then later in the film his power seems to have miraculously reduced in the fighting towards the end of the movie to only being able to blast away rocks and walls. These kind of blatant errors and variables are easy to notice and will be noticed by any Dragonball fan. On a whole the plot and story on the film lacked some needed proof reading, these few minor details built up to a much wider scale of a misfire on what could have been a great film, or even films.
To summarise the film in its entirety I would give it a 2/5 mark in light of what is could have been, it is a perfect family movie with great special effects and a story line with enough action in it to keep the kids entertained for an hour or so, but for the series fans, who really wanted to see this film become a great and epic success, unfortunately it missed this hurdle by a long shot. This for me is really disappointing as the film had the actors, had the special effects team (which did a magnificent job) and had the back story to be adapted into a blockbuster, but in this case, for me, it will always be remembered as a film that could have been. . .