Try as he might, director James Wong was unable to breathe any semblance of life into "Dragonball Evolution," a dead-on-arrival, live-action adaptation of the extremely popular manga. As a skilled practitioner of pop concepts in the past "? see his work in the Jet Li vehicle "The One" and all the odd-numbered "Final Destination" flicks "? Wong was a good hiring choice for turning ho-hum material into something with a bit more spark to its step. Too bad the incomprehensible script by Ben Ramsey does him no favors.
Justin Chatwin stars as Goku, and he's one of those high school nerds who becomes the earth's only hope when his grandpa reveals the secret of the dragonballs "? seven mystical, glowing orbs that can destroy Earth if brought together. Gramps has one, and he gets killed for it when a green-skinned alien named Piccolo (James Marsters) seeks them all out.
Thus begins an extended ball hunt 'n' chase, with Chow Yun-Fat tossed in for credibility and the appealing Emmy Rossum offered up as eye candy. Unfortunately, that's all the film offers. Although better than the similarly bad "Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li" released just before it, "Dragonball" is limp and off-putting. Even with the filmmakers trying to do some good, the story is so underdeveloped, nothing gels.
Perhaps it makes more sense to the "Dragonball" faithful, or to indiscriminating kids already attuned to video-game-style visuals. The DVD includes an amusing workout parody; an inane music video; a so-so gag reel; and brief, promotional peeks behind the scenes.