Review written by Bananaowns
Images courtesy of Toei Animation and Funimation
Dragon Ball Z is a seminal series, one of the few that has managed to cross the Pacific Ocean and ingrained itself into American culture. For many people, it was the first foray into the world of Japanese animation. I am one of those people. The airing of Dragon Ball Z on Toonami, a Cartoon Network production, was my first exposure to the series. I have grown up with a love and admiration for Dragon Ball as a whole. However, the series had reached its end and nothing new could satiate that desire to see Goku and his friends take on the next foe. It took a long time, but eventually Dragon Ball found a way to continue. The 2013 release of Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods opened the way for a bevy of new content from the series. It’s a wonderful time to be a Dragon Ball fan. Toei is currently airing a sequel series called Dragon Ball Super. At the same time, another movie is in theaters. Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ is an excellent follow-up to Battle of Gods.
Resurrection ‘F’ feels like a very entertaining set-up for something larger. Now that may carry with it a negative connotation, but the movie succeeds in standing on its own as well. It’s rather difficult to accurately describe without some recap of the plot. The movie starts sometime after the events of Battle of Gods. The movie opens with the remnants of Freeza’s army using the Dragon Balls to revive Freeza. They manage to succeed, but it becomes apparent that Freeza is no match for the Saiyans in his current form. This is where the first issue of the movie comes in, the explanation of Freeza’s power up. Freeza is a natural prodigy that has never needed to train. With just a few months of training, he manages to increase his power level to compete with Goku and Vegeta. I realize we are talking about an animated alien, but the training explanation doesn’t exactly present a satisfactory answer. It almost feels cheap, just a quick reason for the fight to make some sort of sense. Meanwhile, Goku and Vegeta are training with Whis, the instructor of the God of Destruction. During this training session, Whis points out the character flaws of both Goku and Vegeta, along with a time rewind power. It’s blatant foreshadowing, but serves the purpose. This movie is great because it brings to light the flaws of both Goku and Vegeta. Goku is unwilling to finish off enemies. His arrogance and relaxed nature often create situations where he can lose. Vegeta’s desire to keep up with Goku creates a sense of tension that ultimately forces him to be one step behind his rival. Discussion of these flaws creates an arc, which is resolved in part for one character in the movie, but is likely to be continued in another film or Dragon Ball Super.
Freeza attacks Earth after training. A few of the Z fighters rise up to stop him. This segment is great, but possesses a few issues. The greatness lies with a few of the tertiary characters that were largely made irrelevant with the extreme power levels of the Saiyans. Krillin, Tien, Piccolo, and Master Roshi come back with a vengeance. They are given ample screen time to actually fight again and it’s very entertaining to watch. My two faults with this scene involve Gohan and the lack of certain characters. Frankly, Gohan is a bit of a wimp now. He has slacked off on his training and is nowhere near his former fighting abilities. I realize that is common trait of the older version of the character, but it’s very unsatisfying. Dragon Ball Z focused so much on Gohan realizing his potential, just to have it thrown away after the series concluded. My second fault lies with the absence of other fan favorite characters. Yamcha, Majin Buu, Goten and Trunks are absent from the action. Some of these characters get a quick explanation of their absence, but with the invasion of their home planet, why would any of these characters not show up? Having everyone gather to meet a strong foe is a Dragon Ball tradition at this point, and it is not exactly followed here.
Goku and Vegeta arrive in the nick of time and begin the battle with Freeza. Goku has the upper hand until Freeza transforms into his new form, then the battle evens out. Goku’s new Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan (I didn’t make up the name) is actually very well designed. The blue hair looks great and shies away from the silliness that is Super Saiyan 3. The pair discovers Freeza expends too much Ki, due to his inexperience with his new form and Goku quickly gains the upper hand. However, one of Freeza’s subordinates gets the drop on Goku and wounds Goku. Vegeta steps in and reveals his ability to go Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan. This is one of the best moments of the movie. Vegeta absolutely stomps on Freeza and is about to become the hero, the role normally reserved to Goku. Then the movie takes a sharp turn. Vegeta killing Freeza would have been a phenomenal turn of events. It’s finally Vegeta’s turn to take out a villain. However, Freeza blows up the planet before Vegeta delivers the final blow and Whis uses his time powers to send Goku back. Goku steals the kill from Vegeta and Freeza is sent back to Hell. Goku’s character development comes at the price of Vegeta’s shining moment. Goku addresses his arrogance, but Toriyama had a chance to do something really different. Instead, he decided to play it safe. Goku failing with Vegeta coming to rescue would have been the perfect way to end the movie. Vegeta would finally overcome his Goku complex, while Goku would see the consequences of being too relaxed. It would have perfectly developed the characters. I think this was a serious misstep on Toriyama’s part.
My last minor gripe with this movie deals with the animation. For the most part, the animation is gorgeous. However, there was a multitude of CG used for action scenes in this movie. Some parts the CG looked great, but there were a lot of parts where it looked awkward. The CG models did not quite match the animation. This is the second Dragon Ball movie that has incorporated these CG elements and I hope practice does make perfect in this sense. Despite my gripes with the movie, it was great. It was entertaining for a Dragon Ball Z fan. It did wonders to set up the future of the series, but it was not perfect. Certain characters, plot details, and animation prevent it from being absolutely amazing.
For that, Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ gets a 8/10.