Movie Bites – Dragonball Script Review

Dragonball is nothing short of a blockbuster bomb. Changing from its original title, “Dragonball Z,” to its current incarnation: “Dragonball Evolution,” I have to imagine the changes to the written content will be as asinine and needless as its title. (Though I suppose they may have had to drop the original title anyway, since the script offers no explanation to where “Z” fits into all of this.)

Ben Ramsey’s adaptation of the cult-classic and commercially successful Dragonball franchise is a rare commodity in today’s world of adaptations, from comic books and video games, to children’s cartoons of yesteryear. Certainly, the adaptation as a genre is nothing new. Nor is its bright and flashy high-octaine action sequences, meant to bolster attendance and word-of-mouth. No, for its money, the thing exalting this new adaptation is its distinction that it will be the first new cartoon-to-movie feature without any serious inspiration from the source material. With Iron Man, they brought in comic writers as consultants. With Dark Knight, they incorporated classic and contemporary Batman stories and themes. Even with Transformers, they brought in Peter Cullen. With Dragonball Evolution, however, the only familiarities you will find will be in the characters’ names, and the fact that Dragon Balls are in it.

ballsThere are any number of things lame or insipid about this movie, but I’ll try not to dwell on the obvious. One utterly ridiculous thing is the fact that the setting is an ambiguous future period; a period which is close enough to our time in order to retain present-day colloquialisms and references, but far enough ahead to have had a dominant, religious-themed governing culture come and go before the beginning of this movie. The reality is, this could have been written about a group of monks removed from society, today, and it would make as much sense as placing it in the “future.”

One major pet-peeve I found with this script is the female lead, “Bulma.” The Bulma character is reduced to nothing short of a cliche. She is touch-as-nails, sensitive, obnoxious, sarcastic, intelligent, “funny,” and of course, beautiful. In essence, she’s everything. And when you have a character like this Mary-Sue, she is reduced to something incredibly boring and uninteresting. She does have a past which is specific to her character, but you don’t care. She’s merely there to show the hero how uncool he is, until he becomes cool. Then he is cooler than her.

Thankfully, screenwriters almost never reduce female characters to overly simplistic or overly complicated stereotypes. The action genre is just chock full of female heroines to absorb this one small imperfection on the rich tapestry of cool female super-characters. /sarcasm

The script indicates its author not only never saw its original incarnations in any form, but he also seems to harbor a deep-seeded resentment of all things “geek” related. From Goku’s fanboy-like devotion to his supernatural roots, to Wulan and Kal’s Pokemon-esque cardgame based on the culture to which they belong, this reads like bathroom wall scribbling anti-nerd propaganda. Ironically, the only people who will probably wind up seeing this movie will be hardcore fans and people interested in watching a filmed train wreck.

And thanks to its obviously studio-mandated ending, there looms the threat of a sequel (or, dread, many sequels). After this completely falls apart on opening weekend, though, I highly doubt it. Then, in spite of the dozens of cartoons, animated movies, video games, trading cards, etc, this film has the potential to be unlike its other incarnations entirely. I mean of course, that this will be the first, and only, version of Dragonball in its genre.

~ by Crivelliman on February 24, 2009.

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