What do you get when you combine Power Rangers, Avatar the Last Airbender, Karate Kid and a whole lot of “teenage” hormones? Well Dragon Ball of course! Not just any regular Dragon Ball either but.. their EVOLUTION!
Sometimes movies can be so bad they are good. This is not exactly one of THOSE movies. This movie does something else, this movie is so aggressively unfaithful to its source material, this movie is such a trainwreck that it is just fascinating to watch. It’s like an enigma. How could things have gotten so wrong? It’s so bad they even spell Dragon Ball wrong. That’s two different words! Not one… even though spelling it as one word does make a lot more sense. It still is not correct. So when you are already misspelling the title you know you are in for a treat.
Within the first five minutes, which include still images like opening titles and production studio logos there are six major inconsistencies to mythos. Ozaaru is a demon, Piccolo’s backstory is different, using Ki is called airbending, Goku is seventeen, Goku has trouble with learning Ki… uhm I mean air bending the Mafubaa is now something completely unrelated to everything else. Luckily this is Dragonball and not Dragon Ball.. so that is okay… right?
Next we see Goku as your typical teen, that feels more akin to Sam Rami’s take on Peter Parker than the character we know and love. Now obviously this movie can’t be cast with a six year old kid or something as it would simply not work out. During the Piccolo arc, which obviously is not the first in the anime, thus timewise this makes no sense either, Goku was a bit older… but sure I can forgive this choice from a logistical perspective. Filming this with a child actor would be tedious and would not work nearly as well as it could in animated form. I wonder if Justin Chatwin was the right pick for an 18 year old boy because clearly he is much older…fine. The whole whitewashing Goku thing is nonsensical because he is an alien, he could be about any ethnicity.. of course in this movie he is just hell spawn.. so I guess a white straight cisgender privileged male makes about as much sense as anything else in this movie.
After our first fight which involves grandpa Gohan swallowing a fly to a cartoon sound effect we move onto Goku’s highschool live. The girl he likes is with this Chad guy played by an actor named Texas Battle.. now that is a Badass name and sounds like an assistant to All Might. Yet no.. in this movie he is a guy who randomly picks on Goku because…looking like Justin Chatwin makes you a wimp? It is never explained. Now in class we get an exposition scene about an eclipse happening in two weeks and in the most pedantic the teacher tries to teach the school what an eclipse is as the movie tries to force us backstory down the troat by having a half asleep Goku claims that his grandpa believes it is the sign that the Nameks will use to destroy the world.
Now I know this movie is not Dragon Ball.. its Dragonball but in the original source material Piccolo Junior (the Piccolo we know in the series) and Kami do not find out they are aliens until Dragon Ball Z, which allows for a whole lot of mysticism. Now this might not seem to bad but this leads to a chain reaction. Since Oozaru , a demon spawned from the earth serves Piccolo they already do not feel connected in this story.. why would demons and aliens work together. Is it because old Piccolo’s nickname is Demon King Piccolo?! That was a title he chose because he did not know who he was! Why make him King of Demon’s while he is an alien.. those two do not connect well. It also kiled the concept of Super Saiyan from the get go… even before they knew this movie would not get sequals.. If Nameks are aliens they would know of Saiyans and not call them demons…. also a person from Namek is not called a Namek… it’s a Namekian! I am beginning to get angry! And we are just 12 minutes in!
To woo Chichi Goku uses his Ki…I mean airbending to open a locker, now he suddenly airbend while before it was established he can’t do it. So simply by being horney.. he gains power… and this is not the only time it happens.. it’s actually a driving force behind Goku’s power troughout the entire movie. His competence rises with his Libido. Goku is supposed to be about as Ace as I am.. sure he has kids so technically like me he would be grey sexual but the point is the whole character was once build around not caring for these things! So not only do they get his age wrong, potentially his ethnicity wrong, his demeanour wrong and his aptitude wrong.. also his motivations, knowledge and even his SPECIES are wrong. Instead we of Goku get a super powered Dawson Leery trying to woo a girl.
Uncle Ben is that you?
Chichi is the girl Goku likes obviously and because he blew up everyone’s lockers and cluttered the floor, she decides to invite him to a party..on his birthday, which without even considering his grandpa goes along with that. While his grandpa is cooking a feast for his birthday Goku decides to say nothing to him and he just takes off… just so the bullies want to beat him up for showing at a party. Goku beats the bullies by dodging them, claiming it is okay because he did not fight…. these bullies meanwhile come at him with metal rods… what kind of bullies are these? This is not even good high school drama.The fight is sort of entertaining because of how stupid it is though. With some pretty bad effects, even for the time and some very odd choices of the bullies they soon bite the dust.. destroying Texas Battle’s characters car in the end. This of course pleases ChiChi very much because I would be thrilled if people started a fight that leaves a totalled car on my front porch as well.
ChiChi tries to come on to Goku but Piccolo shows up and Grandpa Gohan’s house and Darth Vader’s Hands Gohan into dying.. after which he force pulls the entire house down on the man… because I forgot to mention this.. but he is looking for the Dragonballs, which he gave to Goku earlier. Goku suddenly can sense this.. and runs back home. To find the house less destroyed than it was before and his grandpa covered by two sheets of wood. Gohan tells Goku that he needs to find all the seven dragonballs and stop Piccolo becasue after being sealed by the Mafuba 2000 years ago he returned…. how he did that is never explained it just happend. At least when Rita Repulsa returned in Power Rangers we saw some astronauts open the dumpster that held her.. Piccolo is just back.. and he has a servant named Mai because she was in the original series and we need an evil woman to fight Bulma.
Grandpa Gohan with his dying breath tells Goku that with great power comes great responsibility, using different words and Goku is upset for letting his grandpa down. Who gifted him an orange Gi from beyond the grave, coincidentally in one of the rooms of the house that has not been destroyed. We see Goku bury his grandpa when Bulma invades his house. Her father’s Orb as stolen.. of which she knows nothing about.. but she managed to build a device that is attuned to it’s wavelength so she can locate it now that it is stolen. To her knowledge it was just a pretty thing though so why build that radar?
At least the original Bulma knew what they did so it makes sense she built a radar. They decide to join forces to find the Dragon Balls and Goku dubs the device A Dragonball Energy meter.. to Which Bulma says DBE.. I like it.. NO! NO! That is not a good joke! Dragon Ball Z gets nicknamed DBZ.. so Dragon Ball Evolution of course would be DBE ..but you named it Dragonball not Dragon Ball! Yet now when it’s convenient it becomes two seperate words?! This movie is not even consistent with it’s own title!
Go Go Goku
By now we are only about 30 minutes in. There is an hour left, Goku goes to find Master Roshi as his grandpa commanded.. who now is way younger than Grandpa Gohan.. .like waaaaaay younger but he was his master. Which is fine if you say he is long lived because of his Ki or something but no one even bats an eye that a 50 year looking dude taught a 70 year old life time martial artist?! At least give it a mention! Thank Arceus Bulma finds a dirty book though and Roshi grabs her butt and she threatens him for it.. this sequence is the only thing that resembles Dragon Ball.
Yet they have to ruin it by making this movie dumb again. Roshi forgot where he put his Dragon Ball/Dragonball so they have to look.. suddenly the DBE meter doesn’t work.. and Goku can sense the Dragon Ball/Dragonball.. this is the only time this happens.. later they establish that the DBE can detect these relics with pinpoint precision and when the device is not usable Goku can not sense it.. There are so many plot holes here that even the most avid Dragon Ball fan can’t find the crater with Yamcha anymore!
This movie only gets worse, the group gets trapped in a hole by Yamcha that Roshi can just jump out off yet they spend an entire night in that crater whining about how they are running out of time, which in itself is a plot hole. Piccolo must make his wish during some sort of special solar eclipse named the blood moon for some reason and no on realise.. hey we could just keep a dragon ball/dragonball from him… no they have go gather them all…so they can wish for his defeat? But halfway down the movie they realise this will not work so they do decide on just keeping the balls away.. somewhere down the road and to use the Mafuba to seal away Piccolo again..bringing the Dragon Balls closer to him.
Let’s not forget that the entire world never notices that Piccolo has a floating sky fortress… which stops being a thing all together at one point.. he destroys cities and people in the world don’t seem to notice. This is really really bad. At one point Piccolo can use his blood to create what can only be called Putty Patrollers. That’s right Power Ranger Putty Patrollers are in this movie. One Dragon Ball/Dragonball is in a volcano but they can not cross the lava because they can not fly yet.. suddenly they are attacked by the putties and Goku and Roshi fight them off when Goku uses them to build a bridge.
Sure they are monsters but clearly they are alive. Goku should not really be so murderous that he tosses these in lava to form platform but he does… also without the bad guy’s intervention they would not have gotten to the Dragon Ball.. well that can happen right?! The bad guys might be trying to reach the same location at the same time and thus the fight would enable the good guys in the end? No! Mai apparently was on the other side all along not touching the Dragon Ball/dragonballl for some reason until she can hold Goku at gunpoint. Why send in the putties when your enemy is in the wrong place… how did you even get there?!
Not a single scene makes any sense at all. After the Volcano the group decides they don’t have time to find the other Dragon Balls in time so they must learn the Mafuba.. or more like.. get it.. as it’s a spell you can like take along with you apparently. This leads to Goku reuniting with Chichi who participates in the world Tournament.. Goku doesn’t care about such a match because he does not care about fighting, or the tournament.. he does care about Chichi… I honestly do not know how they do it but that single situational descriptor of a simple situation is 100% wrong… like they could not even be more off had they actually set it out as their goal to make an Anti-Goku.
This leads to the worst scene of the entire movie.. Goku learning the Kamehameha. Which now has the power to gently light candles on fire as Roshi demonstrates… yet Goku can not mimic this straight away..invalidating possibly the most iconic scene of entire original series.. Goku doing this complex technique on his first try. Now this would be enough to insult any fans to the core..but they make it WAAAAY worse. Chichi shows up telling him.. that if Goku can use the Kamehameha to light all the candles ..he can stand next to her and they can “kiss” this prompts Goku to grasp the concept of this technique. The two kiss and we fade to black. And we pick up with a scene of Chichi sneaking out of his room.
However this is not Chichi this is Mai in disguise who earlier drew some blood form Chichi which allows her to transform into Chichi… Goku however was not in his room.. perhaps he was at Chichi’s room.. so she is found out. The technique already feels stupid and forced.. but hey guess what it gets worse. When Chichi fights my in ther tournament Mai had no way of knowing who Chichi actually is to Goku, nor does it makes sense she knew the group would gave up pursuit of the dragon balls instead, nor that their alternative technique would be taught there.
If we consider “Piccolo must have sense the dragon balls/dragonballs they carry’ that is something the group would know as he found plenty already. Why would you leave the Dragonballs alone in your room when you know the enemy can detect them. Either way you look at this it doesn’t make sense and the only viable explanation is.. Goku got careless because he wanted to get it on with Chichi which is about the most un-dragon ball you can get for an explanation.
Oh No Za Ru
Mai kinda kills Goku with some kind of Gassy Energy Shot thing.. because in the doppelganger fight Goku decides and hits the wrong Chichi.. even though he learned how to sense energy and should have mastered it because Kamehameha is the highest form of Airbending. Now dead.. in the same way Harry Potter died in that last movie, Goku sees his grandfather who tells him it is not his time yet, after which Master Roshi Fires a Kamehameha into Goku..which now has the power to revive and heal people as well. He gets up, they leave Chichi unconscious on the floor which is the second closet actual dragon ball moment in this movie, and pursue Mai and Piccolo who now head to the Dragon Temple..which is the location where you need to use all the Dragon Balls.
Yamcha now has a hovercraft/ flying car hummer which promptly gets shot down and while they are crashing.. Goku decides to switch into his Gi… yes .. while they are crashing! While his friends lie in pain out of the car we see Goku posing in his new Gi for like half a minute.. not even looking if they are okay he decides to face king Piccolo. Swearing Piccolo he will defeat Oozaru. Piccolo reveals to Goku he is Oozaru and the blood moon will turn him… yeesz.. a once in a lifetime solar eclipse turning you into a giant monkey? How unpratic… it’s not even gonna be a giant monkey is it?!
So Goku turns into a not so great..I’d even so slightly tinier than average Ape and kills Roshi… by the way that whole Mafuba plot line got discarded by the evil Namek blowing up the urn with ease. His regret causes him to change back into Goku and the final fight begins. The final fight is about is massively lackluster and looks like a 1 on 1 match of splatoon with some pretty harmless colourful projectiles flying about. Suddenly Goku is as strong as Piccolo so I guess he must really be horney after having been turned into a tiny gorilla.
The fight feels very throwaway and not Dragon Ball at all. With one final Kamehameha.. which is also the first one.. the conflict is ended… the iconic technique is not done justice of course. Instead they combine with with a visual more akin to the Super Dragon Fist with Goku flying through Piccolo.. like in the classic.. but instead of the hole.. which would make no sense we just see a blue explosion. So it has neither the pleasing elements of the Dragon Fist nor the Kamehameha.. That takes some skill on it’s own to combine both and get non of the joy!
With the evil defeated, Goku magically learns the enchantment to summon Shenlong… because why would they get that name correct..and instead of wishing for the people that got killed in this incident to be returned the group just wishes for Roshi back. A touching sentiment but given that they would be given one ABSOLUTE wish..a bit lackluster. Given how the Earth Dragon Balls are supposed to bring back multiple people.. they even got the dragon balls/dragonballs themselves wrong!
Gotta Heed to Call Skip on Dragonball
I haven’t even said anything about the bad acting, the sub par cgi and the lack of an interesting musical score. Not only does this movie not work as a Dragon Ball flick, it is written so bad that even with different flavor this plot would have made no sense , with huge logic leaps bad writing and the worst implementation of a franchise ever. Avatar the Last Airbender the movie is a masterpiece compared to this.. the Room had more structure in its writing and Troll 2 had better effects and payoffs. Yet there is something fascinating about this movie. I would not call it enjoyment.. I would not say I had fun .. but I stared in awe as this movie unfolded. There wasn’t a single moment where I did not want to turn of this movie but I constantly kept wondering.. they can not mess it up more than this right? Just to see it progressively worsen as we go along.
As a random movie this is a pile of digimon doodoo but as Dragon Ball/Dragonball Product this is the single WORST movie I have ever seen.. and I have seen Rubber. Which is a movie about a car tire with mental capabilities to explode peoples head..with a meta subplot of cops killing an audience mixed in. DBE is not so bad it’s good.. it’s so bad it’s fascinating.