Here’s Why You Write: ‘Dragonball Evolution’

By Randal Stevens · May 11, 2010

So you’re halfway through your kick ass screenplay in which your robot super spy from the future saves the world from Armageddon triggered by the love-child he fostered with a dinosaur – after a wicked twist come the end of Act II, of course – but a foreign invader has virtually halted your progress. No, you haven’t developed carpal tunnels, your computer hasn’t caught a virus and there are no in-laws sleeping on your couch. What’s freezing your fingers from writing is crippling self-doubt. Shortly after you finished the antagonist’s monologue in which he went back in time to throw the protagonist’s mother’s dog down the stairs, you begin to think, “is this script actually any good?” This voice has pitched in its two cents plenty of times since you wrote “INT. WALKING SENTIENT HOUSE – DAY,” but for some reason, it’s particularly nagging this time around and you can’t shake it. Suddenly and totally you’re doubting your abilities and have convinced yourself that there’s no way anyone will ever be interested in your screenplay. Take heart, young padawan, for as crappy as you may think your screenplay is, I guarantee you that there are far crappier out there – and they’ve been produced!



Show of hands from anyone who can name me 2 screenplays credited to Ben Ramsey. I’m going to assume that absolutely nobody has raised their hand and if you did, you’re either full of shit or Ben Ramsey. Ramsey’s IMDB resume lists three produced screenplays not including the “announced” Luke Cage and they consist of The Big Hit, starring “Marky” Mark Wahlberg and Lou “Straight to DVD” Diamond Phillips; Love and a Bullet, co-written and co-directed by the singly-named Kantz; and an exercise in cinematic flagellation and thesis of this blog, Dragonball Evolution. Based on the popular manga and subsequent long-running anime series created by Akira Toriyama, Dragonball Evolution is a pity case at its most flattering. Released in theaters, widely panned and quickly forgotten in April 2009, the only reason the film was greenlit by Fox was because they had very little in the bank when the WGA strike virtually shut down Hollywood. And it shows.

If you have any doubts about your writing ability, do yourself a favor and watch this “movie.” I put the word movie in quotes because while Dragonball Evolution seems to demonstrate all the standard characteristics of a movie – there are people reading scripted lines and acting out pre-determined events at 24 frames per second – but the similarities stop there. Literally every aspect of this cinematic abortion, which will now be referred to as Balls from now on, is painful to watch from minute to minute. Think of anything – literally anything – that makes a film bad and I guarantee you Balls has it in spades. Stilted dialogue? Check. Poorly fleshed out characters? Check. An incomprehensible conflict? Check. Gaping plot holes? Check. A white guy playing the lead role of an Asian character surrounded by an otherwise Asian cast? Check-fucking-mate.

I was a fan of “Dragon Ball Z” when it first aired in America during Cartoon Network’s Toonami, and had heard rumors of a feature-film adaptation for years. As soon as the first on-set stills were released, the red flags should’ve been raised. Saturated with CGI that would make the SyFy Channel salivate, Balls feels a bit like rape of the eyes and the intellect. There is not a single redeeming quality in its entire 85-minute running time, furthering taining the resume of James Wong, who at one point could brag that he was a writer for “The X-Files.” Now he can brag to Akira Toriyama, “I helped destroy your legacy.”

So the next time you’re feeling down about your writing, mentally prepare yourself for unpleasant visual penetration, scope out Balls and try as hard as you possibly can to imagine Ben Ramsey screening the “movie” for friends and saying to himself, “I’m proud of myself.” If nothing else, you’ll get a good laugh out of it. If you can still manage to find humor in a world that would allow Balls to exist.