Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dear Charlie

I may have to take back some of the things I said about FOX. Some. Definitely not all. Because they've apparently relented on us poor fans a little. A very little.

So, between the baking for tomorrow's office Christmas party -- red velvet cake, chocolate chip cookies, and bonbons -- I decided I'd better slap something up here, since I haven't posted anything since the elves gobsmacked me, and The Trailer came out yesterday.

But I have a slight problem. I...don't know what to say.

I just can't help it. I've seen the new DragonBall movie's trailer, and I'm debating what I want to say about it. That I have an opinion is a given. That it's one I care to share with my tiny readership...not so much.

Here, maybe you should just see it for yourself first.

Now, because I know you all really did click that link and watch the trailer before reading any further, like the good little students you are, here's my problem. And it's not a small problem, though I keep trying to make it such.

I want to like this movie. I want to have good things to say about it. I want the trailer to psyche me up.

But I don't, I can't, and it doesn't.

Maybe that's not FOX's fault. While I'm not terribly picky about movies in general, I admit that I want this one to be right. It wouldn't be that hard to get it right. There are over a hundred volumes of manga as source material. There are over five hundred episodes to glean from. There are I-don't-know-how-many websites devoted to dissecting each and every panel and scene from both manga and anime, respectively. in the world did the line, "I'm not ready for this", squeak out of Goku's mouth?

I know, I know. It's one line out of thousands, and it may not even make the final cut of the movie. It's such a small thing.

But it's not.

It's not just a line but an attitude. The Goku that Akira Toriyama created and TOEI brought to the screen wouldn't say that. That Goku would maybe say, "I dunno if I can win, but I'm gonna fight until my body gives out." He'd say, "Wow! This is the strongest opponent I've ever faced! Awesome!" He might even say, as he did to Cell, "Yup, I'm satisfied that I can't beat you."

But never "I'm not ready for this". Because Goku was always ready to fight. Unless he was hungry.

I don't blame Justin Chatwin for this line, mind you. It's not that he doesn't deliver it well. It's just that it should have never been written.

The story of DragonBall was never about a Chosen One. It was never about fulfilling a prophecy. It was about a weird kid with creepy strength and a tail who grew up with only his grandfather for company. This weird kid turned into a rampaging beast with the full moon, and during one of these rampages, he stepped on his grandfather and was suddenly all alone in the world. Luckily, it's a long time before he realizes that he's the one who orphaned himself.

After that, he grew up alone. And after a while, another odd kid -- this one a teenaged girl with an insane IQ -- showed up and exposed him to the rest of the world. Or exposed the rest of the world to him. Not sure which is worse, but it did make for a lot of good fun.

And much, much later, all of that turned on its head when DragonBall Z revealed that Goku wasn't just a weird kid with a tail but an alien sent to destroy the human race so his own race could sell the planet to the highest bidder. Awesome.

Anyway...I guess part of the problem I have with the tidbits of plot given away in the trailer is that they basically just trashed all of that. They put Goku in high school, which makes him a teenager. His grandfather is still alive (though he dies during the film...not by Goku's hand), but worse, they put him in high school. Let's just make this an angst-fest, shall we?

And his future wife, ChiChi, isn't a rural princess who's both flirty-shy and bad-ass, but the popular girl in school who's dating a jock. Huh?

Oh, well. I could do this all day. The point is that it all stems from the attitude. Not the movie-Goku's attitude, but the filmmakers' attitude toward the material. Why make a DragonBall movie and not keep the things that made it awesome? Why call the character Goku and then have him talk like an angsty teen who's being forced into some prophetical corner? Why not just start from scratch?

Wouldn't that be easier? And less likely to piss off an entire planet's worth of fans?

But hey, put that aside for a second. I'm trying to, anyway. Let's be reasonable.

The action looks pretty good. There should be lots of fighting, most of which will be martial arts style, which is usually great in my book. Visually, the film looks well-made, for the most part. The effects will be neat on the big screen.

I'll even go so far as to say that Piccolo looks better than we were led to believe. The greener he gets, the better. He doesn't seem to have antennae, but hey. At this point, that's like shooting fish that are already dead.

Oops. It slipped. Honestly.

But, according to interviews, James Marsters fought pretty hard for elements he thought were crucial to his character, and he'd actually watched the show before being signed to it, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. He's well aware of how severely the fandom can sway majority opinion.

I mean, seriously. He was in Joss Whedon's better-known creation, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. I didn't watch much of it, but it was hugely loved by fans all over, and I did love Firefly, which was awesome sauce with a dash of kick-ass for seasoning. And both shows were swept along by the fandom -- Firefly even to the big screen by the Joss himself, and all because the fans rallied behind it.

So, I'm pretty much okay with Piccolo. For now. He's got the deep sensei voice, the alien look. And fangs. And maybe there are little antennae flopping around in there that I just can't see. I can always hope.

See? I can say nice things, too. I don't outright hate it.

I'm just...disappointed. Bothered. Even irritated. I mean, seriously. If not for the dragonballs themselves (and the freeze frames with the characters' names, for God's sake), this could be just any martial arts fantasy/sci-fi flick. And they've even somehow messed with how the dragonballs themselves came about (though they can easily retcon that if they do a sequel; hell, they even did that from DB to DBZ, so I guess anyone can get away with that much).

So...what was the point? Why do a DragonBall movie and just...not bother with DragonBall? I know, I know. There's a lot of money to be made on it. DB/DBZ merchandise is still some of the strongest-selling fandom stuff out there, and anyone in their right mind would want to cash in on it. Fine.

But make a quality product.

Guh. Now, I'm debating whether to post this or not. Maybe I should stick with football and movies that I've actually seen. I probably shoulda written up Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction, which kicked so much ass that I can't stop watching it. Or I could write about how much I'm enjoying The Zombie Survival Guide, which I picked up at Books-a-Million last weekend. Or I could even talk about the stack of sudoku books the caseworkers from the office gave me today because they found them in a box of activities and figured they were a little much for our kids to deal with (most of them are ADHD, for cryin' out loud).



At least there's for sure a kamehameha wave. I mean, you hear Goku hollering it toward the end, there. And it's rumored that both Oozaru and Shenron will make an appearance, though I'm looking forward more to the Eternal Dragon than to the Great Ape (because I hear they've monkeyed with Oozaru's design, to coin a phrase).


Sorry. I can't help it. I'll go frost the cake now.


At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Claire said...

I can't bring myself to do it Geeb. Even hearing that James Marsters-who does an awesome job in Buffy by the way, you should really check it out if you're a fan of Joss'-is in it doesn't help. I think you had it right; they're making our show into High School Musical/Not another Tweeny Bopper movie


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