I wish you could hear me laughing.
The upcoming adaptation of "Dragon Ball" has been one of the most amusing sources of nerd rage on sites like superherohype, IMDb, and Youtube. Don't believe me?
Warning: "Megaman" music, bad video/audio editing, and general nerdiness abound.
They're actually upset with this adaptation for good reasons. For one thing, the film looks bad. A bit more specifically, it looks bad and nothing like Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball manga/animated series. Particularly with regards to the major characters, the writers and director (Ben Ramsey and James Wong, respectively) do not seem to have grasped the nature of the protagonist, which is amazing since he can be summed up in two words: monkey boy.
But the anger of fans - however goofy their expression of it may be - stems from reasonable complaints. It looks cheesy, and has been long delayed (it was originally scheduled for release in August of this year, but has been pushed back to April 2009) after it was stuck in limbo since 2002, when supposedly Roland Emmerich was going to direct it. 20th Century Fox has had the rights to this movie for a long time now; enough time to actually get a movie that - even if it alienated the hardcore fans (the people whose videos are linked to above) - would at least look like something. Say what you will about the garishly colored, badly written, psuedo-agitprop approach to the Wachowski Brothers' live action Speed Racer, but it was certainly something.
Making a bland, soul less action movie with bad wire effects and "kung fu" is nothing new and it would not normally bother me, regardless of whether or not it was based on a cartoon that I have fond childhood memories of. It does not please me to even appear to be joining in the orgy of nerd hate that this movie has garnered, as just watching it is much more fun without any of the embarrassment. But this actually fits with my cultural artifact selection and subject for the "culture jam" assignment.
Not only is this 100 million dollar budgeted film going to be marketed world wide, it's going to be a major merchandising effort. None of that is in any way new, but consider that the only thing that Fox owns the rights to is the movie adaptation, and that Dragon Ball as an anime and manga still has a considerable following, with its own merchandise still selling well (especially when compared to other animated Japanese properties). Fox will liscence a video game (to THQ, I believe) based on the movie, while Namco/Bandai continue to make their ongoing series of console fighting games based on the anime that they started in 2002.
Basically you'll have Dragon Ball vs. "DragonBall." Two competing versions of the same product, the same story and the same characters. Bizarre.
Actually it's not, only more direct than usual. And on top of that, I've already seen people say "it looks alright for a kung fu movie" which I'm guessing has something to do with the fact that people are doing martial arts and there's some shoddy looking wire effects. It's the Americanized version of both Japanese anime, and Hong Kong action, but with none of the foreign flavor that worked out so well for the original versions!
Again, I wish you could hear me laughing right now.