Dragon Ball Evolution: remember the terrible anime live-action movie

On April 9, 2009, the film that would become one of the biggest cinematic disappointments ever recorded was released in theaters around the world: Dragon Ball Evolution. The film is remembered with rancour by the public and, mainly, by the fans, until today.

Not only was it a critical failure, the dismal reception from the public also contributed to its failure at the box office. The film had a budget of US$ 30 million and grossed only US$ 58.2 million at the worldwide box office.

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But after all, what led the adaptation of one of the most beloved animes in the world to suffer such a negative response from the audience? Remember this story in the article of My Series!

A story without charm

The main basis of a good film is the narrative. The cast may not be the best actors ever seen, the editing may be simple, and the budget may be low. However, with a good story to be told and captivating for the public, it is enough to gain at least the sympathy of the audience.

(Source: 20th Century Studios/Disclosure)Source: 20th Century

In case of Dragon Ball Evolution, not even that screenwriter Ben Ramsey and director James Wong were able to deliver. The story is extremely shallow, with characters without motivation and without development. Even Goku, the classic protagonist of the anime, was completely underused.

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Classic scenes, like learning the kamehameha and fighting, are extremely poorly done and don’t excite at all. In addition to the various scenarios made in chroma-keys, in which the visual effects team did not care to hide the artificiality of the locations.

Bad casting and crew

It’s hard to know which are the worst choices made by the film’s production when talking about actors and direction. After the release of the film, director James Wong admitted that he knew almost nothing about it. Dragon Ball and not even being a fan of manga and anime. In addition, he said that he accepted to join the project thinking only about the salary.

As for the cast, in addition to actors completely without charisma (even more so due to the weak script), the film was heavily criticized for the whitewashing the characters suffered. Animes are Japanese animated series, that is, their characters are Japanese. However, the production of the film thought it was a good idea to choose a white actor, Justin Chatwin, to play Goku, one of the most beloved protagonists by anime fans.

(Source: 20th Century Studios/Disclosure)(Source: 20th Century Studios/Disclosure)Source: 20th Century

The choice came from the commercial point of view that, to make it easier to sell the film in the West, the correct alternative would be to choose an actor with whom the Western public could identify more. However, in addition to a xenophobic choice, it is also a disrespect to the history of anime and manga that the film so much aims to honor. Erasing the character’s race, in this case, is also erasing all of its history, origins and essence.

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In order not to make the prejudice so explicit, the production cast Asian actors to compose the supporting cast. But this is just a way of demonstrating that, for them, Asian actors would only serve for roles with less prominence than the main one.

Critical and public reception

Obviously, the live-action Dragon Ball was massacred by everyone who watched it. The response from viewers came from the abysmal box office, which was unable to pay the film’s costs, adding budget, marketing and distribution. To illustrate the great disappointment of the public, on Rotten Tomatoes, a site that aggregates people’s opinions regarding a film/series, the “approval” of the specialized critic is only 15%, while that of the general public is only 20%. .

Where to watch the movie?

If you want to check out the adaptation to understand how they shouldn’t be made, the film is available in the Star+ catalogue. But remember, Hollywood’s Goku feature film is far from synonymous with quality.

For those who are fans of the anime and want to remember the iconic adventures of Goku and his friends, the original Dragon Ball is available on Globoplay, while the Z saga can be watched on HBO Max, in the DBZ Kai version.

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