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The Dragon Ball franchise has enjoyed a lot of success in manga, television, video games and animated movies for over three decades, but in 2009, it was officially brought to live action on the big screen for Dragonball Evolution. Unfortunately for fans who enjoy the adventures of Goku and his large supporting cast, the movie bombed both critically and commercially, and ranks at a measly 14% on Rotten Tomatoes. Seven years after its release, Dragonball Evolution writer Ben Ramsey is now apologizing for how the movie turned out.
Using Dragon Ball super-fan Derek Padula’s website The Dao of Dragon Ball as a platform, Ramsey expressed how sorry he was to fans that his Dragonball Evolution script was such a dud, saying it “marked a very painful creative point” in his life. After years of deflecting the blame, he’s taking responsibility for how disappointing it was, admitting that when chasing after the project for the “big payday,” it was as a businessman rather than a true fan. Having learned that going into a creative project without the passion for it is a recipe for disaster, Ramsey ended the letter saying that he’s now only working on things he truly cares about.
Rarely do we hear folks involved with a critically-panned major movie apologize for it years later. Usually they just point the blame elsewhere or just avoid the subject. So the fact that Ben Ramsey stepped up and took the hit for Dragonball Evolution is admirable. That said, making a movie is a collaborative process, and while Ramsey’s script was considered a disappointment overall, there were other aspects of Dragonball Evolution that failed as well.
Adapting the original Dragon Ball manga, Dragonball Evolution followed an 18-year-old Goku, played by Justin Chatwin, seeking out the seven Dragonballs and avenging the death of his Grandpa Gohan. The movie also starred Chow Yun-fat as Master Roshi, Emmy Rossum as Bulma, Jamie Chung as Chi-Chi and James Marsters as Lord Piccolo. Made with $30 million, the movie only managed to gross above $57 million worldwide, and with overwhelmingly negative reviews stacked upon it, it looks like that sequel announced soon after will never happen.
Although the animated movie Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F' was release in theaters last year, there have been no plans announced to reboot the franchise for live action again at some point. However, Ben Ramsey did compliment Derek Padula’s live action adaptation, Dragonball Z: Light of Hope, which was made on a $10,000 budget. Perhaps one day 20th Century Fox or a different major studio will take another crack at a Dragon Ball/Dragon Ball Z live action movie, and if that day comes, they need to take what Ben Ramsey said to heart by making sure the folks working on it truly care about the property. Otherwise, history will repeat itself.