Home > Reviews > DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION – Brian Tyler


Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A big-budget big screen version of the well-loved Japanese anime TV series, Dragonball Evolution stars Justin Chatwin as Son Goku, a young warrior sets out on a quest to collect a set of seven magical orbs that will grant their wielder unlimited power However, not only does young Goku face a race against time to find the orbs, he also faces a dangerous adversary in the shape of the evil and vengeful King Piccolo (James Marsters), who wants the orbs for his own nefarious purposes.

The film is directed by James Wong, co-stars Chow Yun Fat, Emmy Rossum and Jamie Chung, and has a lively and energetic original score by the ever-busy Brian Tyler. As rousing adventure scores go, they don’t get much more entertaining than Dragonball Evolution. Oscillating sweeping heroic themes, lush love themes, and pulsating action – often within the same cue – the score is never anything less than breathlessly enjoyable, and although it falls firmly within Tyler’s ‘big orchestral’ comfort zone, he does it with more panache than most. There’s a hint of Danny Elfman’s Batman about the main theme, first heard in “The Legend”, and which occurs regularly in cues such as “Dragonball Evolution”.

The action music has a powerful, masculine quality to it, and is awash in tempestuous percussion writing (often with a vaguely Asian twist), jagged string ostinati, a wordless male voice choir, driving brasses, and unobtrusive sampled sound effects which accompany, rather than overshadow his orchestra. Cues such as “Fulums”, “Goku”, “Vengeance”, “Mai vs. Chi Chi” with its Horner-style tubular bells, and the conclusive “Battle” are nice throwbacks to the confident music he wrote for Timeline back in 2003, and it’s good to hear him back in this mode again.

Some of the more lyrical and romantic moments are gorgeous, and have an unashamedly epic sweep, most notably during “Master Roshi” (parts of which also recall Jerry Goldsmith’s The Shadow) and “Bulma and Yamcha”. Possibly the only misfires are the couple of harsh techno music tracks which appear out of nowhere in the middle of the album, but I suppose you’ve got to have something for the kids. It’s a shame that Tyler’s better scores are often wasted on films which are beneath him – this one being a case in point – but beggars can’t be choosers, and the beauty of the CD release is that you don’t have to sit through the movie in order to enjoy its music.

Rating: ****

Track Listing:

  • The Legend (1:13)
  • Dragonball Evolution (3:26)
  • Fulums (5:14)
  • Kaiou Samma (2:34)
  • Goku (3:09)
  • Gohan’s Special Gift (0:57)
  • Master Roshi (3:45)
  • The Journey Begins (0:58)
  • Lighting the Torches (2:44)
  • Vengeance (5:55)
  • Chasing Dragonballs (2:41)
  • Lord Piccolo (2:51)
  • Mai vs. Chi Chi (3:55)
  • A Higher Calling (2:03)
  • Body Work (1:26)
  • I Dream of Chi Chi (0:54)
  • Grime Vinyl (1:52)
  • Unwelcome Strangers (2:12)
  • Bulma and Yamcha (1:51)
  • Things to Come (1:42)
  • The Final Battle (6:20)
  • End Game (1:32)
  • Dragonball Evolution Main Titles (1:32)

Running Time: 60 minutes 64 seconds

Varèse Sarabande VSD-6954 (2009)

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