“That was not over 9,000...” or Fail CGI Monkey is Made of Fail.
Let’s not kid ourselves; this was going to be bad from the day we heard internet rumors screaming “They’re making a Dragonball Z movie ” back in...what was it? 2001? Anyway, while I didn’t foresee EVERY steaming, badly rendered CGI monkey turd that was dropped, it all evened out to about what I expected.
At first, things are actually somewhat entertaining. There are some genuinely funny moments that are surprisingly Toriyama-esque, if you can believe it. Things even begin to descend into self-parody, making the first 10-15 minutes MUCH more entertaining than the rest of the flick. White Kid, or “Goku” as he’s called in some universe, has a hilarious daydream about ChiChi. There’s a fight where White Kid doesn’t even throw a punch, forcing his enemies to do all the damage (again, very Toriyama). But it’s when the film starts taking itself seriously that things get even more sloppy and just downright badly executed.
There were a handful of things that I genuinely liked...y’know, aside from ChiChi’s...chichi’s (look it up in your Spanish dictionary). Okay, that’s a lie: Chow Yun Fat’s portrayal of Muten Roshi was the ONLY element that I felt had any quality to it. Like Jack Black’s version of Carl Denham, CYF takes an established character and, while noting the original, takes his version in a refreshing direction that still fills the proper role.
Another problem is that the film really has no clue what it wants to be: does it want to be Dragonball? A Dragonball parody? A cheap kung-fu action scifi film catering to mass audiences? It seems to be trying to please Dragonball fans while trying WAY too hard to cater to what’s “hip” and “cool.” It tries both, fails at both and offends both.
Trust me, just about everything in this movie is bad: the acting, the script, the plot, the special effects (though the Chi, or “Ki” effects are kind of cool), but I was actually kind of enjoying myself. Having a handful of friends along for the ride was a HUGE help through this piss-filled swamp of a film. One thing that was also very disappointing was one of the reasons I used to be excited; Piccolo. He carries no screen presence, has no motivation (other than “You locked me away ...for trying to destroy your world BUT STILL ”) and is just...BLEH.
Here’s the kicker: at the climax of the film, Oozaru shows up. Then goes away. And thank God, because that was probably the worst CGI I have ever, EVER seen in a major motion picture. It was just as bad as the CGI in one of those direct-to-dvd ripoffs like KING OF THE LOST WORLD (don’t see it, believe me). What really pissed me off, though, was that there was a really interesting rubber-suited version of Oozaru that popped up online a few months back. It wasn’t really a monkey-monster, but it was a hell of a lot cooler that the poorly animated, badly edited, OUT OF FOCUS monkey monster in the final version. Seriously, what is it with movies like these? Are they so scared of the FACT that it’s a rubber suit (and a fairly decent one at that) that they’d rather put inexcusably bad CGI in place of it?
Trust me, this was much better than what we got.
I guess I shouldn’t get so worked up about it. There was a total of about 20 or so people in the theater...on opening night, no less One of my compatriots noted that “this film will be out of theaters in a week.” Probably.
The thing is, this COULD have been a much more interesting film...if an entirely different approach was taken, and certainly if Fox didn’t make it. Fox is notorious for taking franchises, spitting out a quick, crappy movie, getting a little bit of money, then trying it again. Still, when I think about it, one of the graces of the movie (being mercifully short) was also an overall detriment; in order to do a halfway decent Dragonball film, it would need to be more than an hour and a half (it was probably even less). The final film was so crammed and rushed that it was inevitable that we wouldn’t care about any of the characters or even what was going on. In fact, it would be rather easy to make a good Dragonball film, if the elements of trying to appeal to a “mass audience” were simply removed (the high school angle, for a painfully glaring example) and try to make it more of a fantasy.
But I digress (I love saying that), what’s done is done and nobody will ever try this again, and we have Dragonball Kai to look forward to (the newly edited, SHORTENED version of Dragonball Z).
Oh yeah, and Shenron doesn’t talk...or even take up the whole sky like he should...or even be anywhere near as cool as the Celestial Dragon from Dragon Wars.
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