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Still shot from the movie: Dragonball - Evolution.

Dragonball - Evolution

Goku (Justin Chatwin) may be young, but he still has a dangerous task to perform. In order to keep Piccolo (James Marsters) and his alien forces from destroying the Earth, the teen must collect seven Dragonballs. These mystical spheres have the ability to give their possessor unlimited power. To accomplish this difficult quest, Goku seeks the help of Master Roshi (Yun-Fat Chow). Get the movie review and more. »

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Overall: B-
Violence: C
Sexual Content: B
Language: B
Drugs/Alcohol: A
Run Time: 84
Theater Release: 08 Apr 2009
Video Release: 28 Jul 2009
MPAA Rating: PG
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Based on a Japanese manga series, Dragonball Evolution is an American-made live action adaptation of Akira Toriyama’s martial arts adventure. Before this movie storyline begins, the evil Lord Piccolo (James Marsters) has been captured and confined after attempting to destroy Earth and her inhabitants. Now 2000 years later, those who are in tune with the universe sense something is about to change during an upcoming solar eclipse.

For Goku (Justin Chatwin), however, it is just another crummy day in the life of a teen. Although he might have special secret powers, the other kids in his high school just consider him a geek. Unaware of the intensive martial arts training he does with his grandfather (Randall Duk Kim), his classmates take every opportunity to harass their fellow student.

Then one day at a house party given by Chi Chi (Jamie Chung), a girl who Goku has a secret crush on, the bullied boy stands up to the troublemakers. However while Goku is deftly avoiding the rabble-rousers’ punches, his grandfather is confronting Lord Piccolo who has escaped from his confinement and is in search of seven special orbs, one of which Grandpa gave to Goku. When Piccolo fails to find the glass ball, he demolishes the house and sets out to locate the teen.

For ardent fans of the franchise, the rapid introduction of numerous characters including a villainess named Mai (Eriko Tamura), a scientist named Bulma (Emmy Rossum), a thief named Yamcha (Joon Park) and the laid back, Hawaiian shirt wearing Master Roshi (Yun-Fat Chow) will be like meeting old friends. But for those unfamiliar with the story, it might take some time to sort out all the new faces.

Still the plot is a simple one. Freed from the tight quarters he was kept in, Lord Piccolo wants to collect the seven orbs and use them to summon a great dragon that will grant him one wish—namely to initiate the Apocalypse. On the other hand, Goku and his friends are eager to find the balls first and stop the planet’s total destruction.

Mixing martial arts action with plenty of futuristic fireballs and special laser guns, the script melds old and new settings with ample amounts of teen friendly jargon and comedic moments. While the depiction of hand-to-hand fighting, bullying, alien assailants and morphing monsters make up most of the violence concerns, there is only a smattering of profanities, sexual innuendo and cleavage exposure for viewers to contend with.

Although this production may have limited appeal beyond followers of the genre, it does present some positive portrayals of choosing good over evil, respecting one’s elders and practicing discipline. However, some viewers may feel as conflicted as Goku after being exposed to this script’s often stilted dialogue and mystical storyline.

Dragonball - Evolution is rated PG: for intense sequences of action/violence and brief mild language.

Cast: Justin Chatwin, James Marsters, Yun-Fat Chow.
Studio: 2009 Twentieth Century Fox
Website: Official site for Dragonball - Evolution.

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About the Reviewer: Kerry Bennett

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