Director – Tadayoshi Yamamuro
Screenplay – Akira Toriyama
Producer – Norihiro Hayashida and Rioko Tomonaga
Distributor – Toei and 20th Century Fox
This review may be the easiest one I ever have to do during this Animé festival and it is purely because regardless of what I write below, everyone reading this already knows if they like Dragon Ball Z enough to watch another movie. Regardless I will write up my thoughts and feelings of the follow up to last year’s Battle of the Gods and those who are genuinely on the fence will have something to go from.
The story itself is typical Dragon Ball Z, an enemy more powerful than anything Goku or Vegeta has faced before has come into existence and decided to make the planet earth its primary target. What is new this time around is that it is fan favourite villain Frieza who has returned thanks for the power of the Dragon Balls. Frieza who has spent the time since his untimely death at the hands of Future Trunks (Vegeta and Bulma’s son who travelled back in time to just before he was born to aid Goku against the threat of the Cyborgs and a being known as Cell) in Earth’s hell is in a very bad mood. Having discovered that Goku had not only gone onto to defeat Majin Buu and draw in a match against the God of Destruction Beerus, he decides for the first time ever to actually train to see how far he can raise his own power level.
From that moment on we are treated to some of the wonderfully over the top battle sequences to ever grace the big screen and of course we are treated to the next step in evolution to both Frieza and the Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan. For me the best fight sequence in the movie was not the final battle but the one featuring all of Goku’s friends against the Frieza force. Master Roshi, Piccolo, Gohan, Tien, Krillin and new comer from the tv show Dragon Ball Super, Jaco spend a good 10 mins of the running time battling hundreds of Frieza’s henchman showing off their signature moves. It is nice to see that unlike in past movies, the warriors of Earth have kept up their training and can hold their own against most alien threats.
The movie, like Battle of the Gods, is not just an action flick however and is full of the silly comedy we have come to expect from the TV show and Manga it originally spawned from. Frieza’s stint in his own personal hell for instance is a beautiful garden surrounded by faeries and sentient soft toys that parade around his cocooned body. We also very quickly discover that Vegata and Goku have gotten so strong that they view their battle with Frieza as little more than a game as they take turns to face off against him. Though this sounds like it would make for bad viewing it is totally in line with what that world is like.
The animation in this movie is of the highest quality and yet it still looks strikingly Dragon Ball, this is possibly due to the quality of Dragon Ball Super which is airing as I write this. The music is one of those things you will either love or hate, Frieza has his own theme song which has a distinctly heavy metal vibe to it which I personally thought was kind of cool.
The one downside is that Goku and Vegeta make it clear from the beginning that they have powered up to a level way beyond that of Frieza and we never really feel that there is ever any threat of them being defeated. This lack of danger robs the new Saiyan evolution of any real signficance and creates a vaccum between Goku, Vegeta and Frieza which spoils some of the movies bigger surprises. The final scene also feels a little cheap and is telegraphed right at the very start so i would be shocked if anyone failed to see it coming which unfortunatley again steals away from the dramatic end to Vegeta and Frieza’s battle.
Without spoiling every key moment of the movie this is one that has really been designed for fans, specifically for those with nostalgia for when Dragon Ball Z has originally aired. It has the same level of fan service you would expect from a movie based on a popular franchise and yet it is never boring and despite the slightly longer than usual run time for this kind of feature it never once outstays its welcome. Whilst not essential viewing if you are a fan or not, it is an enjoyable and good natured movie which will leave fans with a smile on their faces but will leave everyone else cold.