Dragon Ball Z: The Light of Hope may just be the live-action DBZ project fans have been waiting for. To put it simply, its gorgeous, well-choreographed, and magnificent in nearly all aspects. Directing partners Donnie and Rita McMillan have a vision to bring about the best possible live-action version of Dragon Ball Z, and it appears they have done so.
[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]he Light of Hope has been a project that has long since been in the works. These days, the fans seemingly all have a voice, and sometimes that voice comes in the form of something miraculous, majestic, and any other word that starts with ‘m’. Only difference is, this something is McMillan (see what I did there?).
Our friends over at Robot Underdog have taken it upon themselves to turn a beloved anime series the world over, into an incredible achievement. Through years of hard work, impressive sound mixing, astounding choreography, and an excellent cast of performs to bring about what we firmly believe to be one of the greatest fan-made live action projects of all time (no, Rita, I’m not just saying that because we’re friends).
Quite simply, there are several major players in the live action DBZ game right now, each one doing something a little different from the last (K&K have brought about several projects including the successful Saiyan Saga trailer). This time around, Robot Underdog wants to deliver a web series based on the story and history of Future Trunks and his struggle for survival and becoming the savior of his timeline.
While Future Trunks is a major character in the mainstream DBZ universe (and a fan favorite amongst many), Trunks’ time features a far more sadistic outcome to the Android arrival, resulting in the deaths of nearly every single Z-Fighter. How does Trunks make it out alive with Androids 17 and 18 hot on his trail around every turn? If you have seen the anime, you certainly know the answer, but seeing brought to live action is a whole new way to appreciate one of the greatest anime/manga stories ever told. Take a look for yourself at the 13m15s pilot below.
Without a doubt, this is one of the greatest fan-made webisodes ever made, and we can say that with little to no ego, having been privy to the development and production of some of the most well-known web films over the past few years. That said, we don’t really need to convince you, do we? Did you watch the video above?
Having just watched Light of Hope for the first time all the way through within the past hour of writing this, and then watching it three more times, I can tell you right now that the chills going up and down my spine as Tyler Tackett’s portrayal of the sadistic and maniacal Android 17 only add to my delight at such a performance. Strip away the superb special effects, and you still get an amazingly talented cast that delivers a tight, fine-tuned choreography of battle scenes that alone impressed me.
Visually, Light of Hope is stunning. Flat out, impressive. The ki blasts, the flight, and even the rock break at the end of the pilot where Trunks angrily throws a fist into a boulder looked cool as hell. But let’s be honest here, the big visual moment this short had been the Super Saiyan transformation by Gohan. From the rocks that twisted and swirled from the ground up, the energy aura that flared and knocked back Android 17, this was easily one of the coolest things I have ever seen in footage that was not from a major Hollywood motion picture.
Gohan: “Trunks, training is serious business. Can you please turn your shirt inside-out?”
The sound effects were spot on, having been taken from the anime and altered to fit the live-action sequences in such a profound way, that hearing the swipes and swings of kicks and punches brought me back to those after school times where Dragon Ball Z would air on Toonami in the afternoon the moment I walked in my door. In some cases, the voice acting could improve just a tad, but in no way was there a single moment that I felt like Light of Hope wasn’t true to its own intentions.
As far as acting goes, the actors in this webisode are likely people you have never heard of. Though I can tell you right now that it certainly won’t be the last time you come across their names. Tyler Tackett (@not_tylerdurden), Android 17 in the film, certainly steals the show with a mesmerizing portrayal of one of my personal favorite characters in the series. Having met Tyler and spent a little time with him last year, I can tell you right now you would not find a nicer guy playing a sociopathic homicidal serial killer Android on-screen. Point is, I was definitely worried in the beginning whether or not the Androids would accurately and adequately be portrayed in a scary unsettling way. But with Donnie McMillan’s directive, and the cast’s performances, any worries were dashed away like Frieza against Krillin.
The best part about Light of Hope, is that you do not need to be a Dragon Ball fan to enjoy it. You don’t even need to know the back-story (though it certainly helps). The way it has been pieced together should be enough to entertain action fans and sci-fi fans alike, though if you are a Dragon Ball Z fan, this is not only right up your alley, it’s sure to find a special place in your heart comforting you every step of the way proving once and for all that a live-action Dragon Ball film is not only a good idea, it can be done well with those that have the vision to bring to Light… of Hope.
Awe, a lovely group portrait before we kill Gohan. *SPOILER ALERT*