A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this live-action adaptation of the popular anime/comic book/video game series has lots of martial arts action. There's not much blood, but expect plenty of fighting, weapons (throwing stars, staffs, futuristic guns, etc.), and even a couple of deaths (though one is reversed). Characters also flirt and kiss and use some mildly salty language ("damn," "hell," and the like). And while there isn't any obvious product placement in the movie, the film itself could be considered one big ad for all the existing Dragonball merchandise out there.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Raised by his kindly grandfather, Goku (Justin Chatwick) doesn't know where his mom and dad are -- but he's been told that when he's 18, all will be revealed. Unfortunately, that birthday coincides with the evil alien warlord Piccolo's (James Marsters) escape from thousands of years of bondage in search of seven spheres of power -- Dragonballs. According to his grandfather, Goku must hurry to gather the Dragonballs with the aid of a martial arts master (Chow Yun-Fat) a tech-savvy entrepreneur (Emmy Rossum), a rogue (Joon Park), and his high-kicking dreamgirl (Jamie Chung) ... before Piccolo does.
Is it any good?
Parents will definitely zone out during DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION, if only because it's nothing they haven't seen a thousand times already. The plot and characters feel lifted wholesale from other, better fantasy epics like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, and the normally welcome presence of Yun-Fat is not, regrettably, enough to make the proceedings fun for grown-ups.
That said, there's a strong chance kids will love it; the story is easy to follow, and there's plenty of bloodless mayhem to keep things moving through the mercifully brief running time. Also to the film's credit? A slightly more evolved sense of gender equity than most kids' action films (there are plenty of strong female characters who are more than just eye-candy or romantic interests). Dragonball Evolution will impress young fans, but anyone older than 10 who doesn't already know and love the source material will find it a chore -- and a bore.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why kids want to see the movie -- is it because of the specific story or because it's part of the Dragonball franchise?
Why do you think the filmmakers chose to make a live-action movie instead of an animated one?
Does any of the violence seem more serious because the characters are real people? Why or why not?
- In theaters: April 10, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: July 28, 2009
- Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Emmy Rossum, Justin Chatwin
- Director: James Wong
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures
- Run time: 84 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of action/violence and brief mild language
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love Action and Fantasy
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch