What, two posts in one day? What is this madness??
A lot’s happened since I last talked about the upcoming Dragonball movie. Piccolo’s makeup job was revealed. Other people’s pictures were revealed. And oh, this trailer leaked sometime last week. Watching the trailer is a pretty sobering experience. The trailer outlines a movie that could be pretty much any other Hollywood movie — kung-fu masters are all the rage these days, and so are key words like “true” and “prophecy.” All of the shots and angles and colors and effects seemed so plain, so familiar, so overdone. Very little of it was reminiscent of the source material, and really, if it wasn’t for the kind-of-recognizable dragonballs themselves, it could be any other movie. I wouldn’t have known better if it hadn’t been labeled as the Dragonball movie. The “prophecy” thing bothered me a lot too… it’s just such a generic and over-used word that’s been used over and over again in dozens of other films. That they used it to present Dragonball is disappointing.
It’s been obvious for a while that they’re trying to capture something bigger than the niche audience. It wasn’t for the fans that they aged Goku up from a spunky, little Asian kid to a mid-twenties white dude. It wasn’t for the fans that they made Piccolo look like Nosferatu. Yeah, both Goku and Piccolo are technically aliens without nationality, but those are the little things that fan want to count on. Our Son Goku is one of a million incarnations of the character from Journey to the West; as such, he should remind us of a mischievous little monkey king.
Piccolo is a green alien, but actually, I’m not that bothered by the fact that he isn’t green. But if they kept him from being green because they thought he’d look too out of place otherwise, then I’d have to say that they failed because Piccolo still looks out of place. He looks like he showed up at filming for the wrong movie, said fuck it, and stayed anyway. Yeah, Dragonball has always been this strange combination of ancient legend and alien sci-fi (and occasionally: dinosaurs!), but I’m beginning to realize that the eclectic group of characters that worked so well in the manga and anime just… don’t translate well to a live action setting. Especially one that’s being set up in such a stereotypical way.
The average American kung-fu movie should not mix with the average American sci-fi film. Dragonball is neither, but they’re making it out to be so, and it just doesn’t seem to be working out. They’re taking themselves too seriously. Dragonball was a comedy. They’re going about this the wrong way — they won’t be able to win over a general audience if the niche audience is incensed. Who do you think the loudest critics will be? Who do you think the general audience listens to? Normally, I’m pretty purist about movie adaptations of books and comics, but I don’t feel as if I’m being overly critical of Dragonball just because I’m a fan. X-men (the first movie) wasn’t a strictly canon adaptation, but it was still a pretty big hit among fans, which translated to good, general acceptance. The same could be said with most of the other big-hit comic book movies: Spidey, Batman, Ironman. Appease the fans first. Why did Catwoman and Elecktra fail so horribly? The fans all hated it.
If you can manage to capture enough of the magic that made the fans fans in the first place, then maybe the general audience will understand, see it also, and follow. It doesn’t work the other way around. You can’t make a completely new product, hope to entrance the general audience, and hope that the original fans will be able to look past everything and accept it.
The fans are already hating on Dragonball, and we still have many months to go. Originally, I was planning on going to see it in theatres, but now I’m not sure if I should bother now. Why pay ten bucks to be even more disappointed?
Addendum: LOL, Fox is trying to excuse itself from the horrendeousness of the leaked trailer by pushing back the official trailer to later this year. They are apparently blaming it on lack of special effects, but honestly, I think they need less special effects and more substance. I seriously doubt their official theatrical trailer will be much better than what’s already been seen, but I guess we’ll see.
Oh. In other Dragonball news. Toriyama is apparently writing a new short that will reveal that Vegeta has a younger brother. Please, no.