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Dragonball Evolution by Brian Tyler

Dragonball Evolution

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 Dragonball Evolution (Soundtrack) by Brian Tyler
Dragonball Evolution (Poster and Memorabilia)








Dragonball Evolution (Soundtrack) by Brian Tyler

Dragonball Evolution
Composed by Brian Tyler
Varese Sarabande Records (2009)

Rating: 8/10

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“As with so many of (Brian) Tyler's projects, DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION transcends the film it is attached to with its memorable thematic material, adrenaline-filled action and unexpected inventiveness.”

Great Balls of Fire
Review by Christopher Coleman

Composer Brian Tyler

"You have to get into a mindset that this is the greatest “fill-in-the-blank”-type of movie ever made, and treat it that way. Otherwise you're just going to blow it, and there can't be any phone-ins because your name is on it forever.."

Brian Tyler

Read the full interview with Brian Tyler

I'm rather amazed that it took so long for the DRAGONBALL franchise to be made into a live action movie. I suppose the studios have had plenty to do pillaging the 60s and 70s for all their worth. While those decades are still being ransacked, Twentieth Century Fox decided to bring some 80s/90s nostalgia to the big screen as well. The genesis of DRAGONBALL goes all the way back to a simple, Japanese, manga-series of 1984, which has since evolved into a mega-franchise including: several animated series, trading card games, and video games. Actually, DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION is the second, live-action movie, but it's 1989 predecessor, DRAGONBALL: THE MAGIC BEGINS was a Taiwanese production that saw no theatrical release outside of China. Perhaps only the heartiest of DRAGONBALL fans even recall this film some 20 years later. Since the first glimpses of DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION hit the internet, it's safe to say that expectations, by mainstream audiences, were unsurprisingly low. Just as video-game-to-feature-film adaptations fall into the 80/20 failure rule, so it seems to be with manga/anime-to-feature-films. If the 1989 Dragonball film wasn't evidence enough , then we only need look to efforts like DETROIT METAL CITY, FIST OF THE NORTH STAR, or DEVILMAN as convincing additional evidence. Unfortunately, DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION doesn't manage to avoid a couple of the standard pitfalls of its predecessors such as: poor writing, second-rate production value, and the like, but it does turn up two surprises. The special effects are leagues ahead of what one might be expecting and BRIAN TYLER's heroic, symphonic score delivers some much needed emotional weight to the otherwise flimsy film.

DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION sadly missed the mark, being received by the hard-core Dragonball fans as a "spoof" more than an adaptation, and being a bit too confusing for those not familiar with the vast world of Dragonball. What element that certainly doesn't miss is composer BRIAN TYLER's score. Coming off of one of his busiest twelve months of his career, which included: RAMBO, BANGKOK DANGEROUS, EAGLE EYE, FAST AND FURIOUS, I didn't have much faith that Tyler would have enough left in the tank for DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION. I had braced myself for a fireball of electronically synthesized music that would only yield one or two moments of real interest as a stand-alone listening experience. Thankfully, I couldn't have been more wrong as BRIAN TYLER delivers much more for our ears to enjoy. Grounding his original score for DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION is a solid title theme, which is established in the very first track. In "The Legend" (1) this bold and brassy theme builds with dreamlike strings and chorus helping to provide its lift, finally resulting in a wonderful crescendo that James Horner, Don Davis, or Jerry Goldsmith would be proud of. The main segment of this theme is memorable 6-note motif which goes on to make numerous appearances throughout the score. In track 2, "Dragonball Evolution" we find another important and musically-dominant theme. Following a variation of the first motif; Tyler launches us into an epic piece fully utilizing the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra's talents. It's pulsating tension and adrenaline laced percussion are qualities that consistently mark BRIAN TYLER's more memorable efforts...and there is no shortage of either here. The shock of this not being wall-to-wall high-energy electronica is replaced by the shock of hearing the degree of symphonic depth here.  And yet, Tyler does not simply rest on this, but goes on to carve a few more facets to this work.

BRIAN TYLER has long proven himself much more versatile than just an action-cue dispenser with efforts like PARTITION and more recently with THE LAZARUS PROJECT. Thumbs up to director James Wong for giving Tyler the room to express some of those talents in this film. Even within "Dragonball Evolution," (2) where Tyler's gift for action is on display, we find a softly pleasing variation of a 9 note motif, which, itself, finds more aggressive peformances in the score. While the heroic element of characters Goku and Master Roshi are well represented by the material mentioned above, we also find a dark and menacing theme for our villain, "Lord Piccolo" (12), a romantic thread in "I Dream of Chi Chi" (16) and "Bulma and Yamcha" (19). And yes, Tyler does actually provide a few pieces that met my original expectations for this score. "Chasing Dragonballs" (11) and it's variation-cousin, "Body Work" (15) with their full-frontal-synth personalities would easily fit in a video game environment, while "Grime Vinyl" features a great dance-like hook, samples, and hip-hop rhythm.  Having strongly established this score with his main thematic material performed by full orchestra, Tyler keeps our interest with his short diversions into the romantic, comedic and electronic.

Those who found his work for TIMELINE, EAGLE EYE, or BANGKOK DANGEROUS appealing will likely find DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION at least, equally appealing and likely moreso. Varese Sarabande delivers a good sized helping of the score at just under 61 minutes, to boot. While the hardcore fans of DRAGONBALL have reacted somewhat coolly to the the film, composer BRIAN TYLER, a self-professed fan himself, clearly allowed his own appreciation for the franchise' legacy to help fuel his creativity and effort. As with so many of Tyler's projects, DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION transcends the film it is attached to with its memorable thematic material, adrenaline-filled action and unexpected inventiveness. DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION is as an early surprise in 2009; one you should treat yourself to.

Rating: 8/10

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Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 The Legend 1:14  ****
2 Dragonball Evolution 3:26  ****
3 Fulums 5:14  ****
4 Kaiou Samma 2:35  ****
5 Goku 3:09  ****
6 Gohan's Special Gift 0:57  ****
7 Master Roshi 3:45  ****
8 The Journey Begins 0:59  ****
9 Lighting the Torches 2:44  ****
10 Vengeance 5:55  ****
11 Chasing Dragonballs 2:41  ***
12 Lord Piccolo 2:51  ***
13 Mai Vs Chi Chi 3:56  ***
14 A Higher Calling 2:04  ***
15 Body Work 1:27  ***
16 I Dream of Chi Chi 0:54  ***
17 Grime Vinyl 1:53  ****
18 Unwelcome STrangers 2:12  ***
19 Bulma and Yamcha 1:51  ****
20 Things to Come 1:43  ***
21 The Final Battle 6:20  ****
22 End Game 1:32  ****
23 Dragonball Evolution Main Titles 1:31  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 61 minutes  





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