Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F – Review

“DRAGON BALL Z: RESURRECTION F”

I love Dragon Ball Z. It was one of my favourite shows when I was growing up and I watched this show religiously when I came back from school. It had some brilliant fight scenes and excellent plots, I’m not going to act like it was perfect but it was just what I needed and it was one of the first shows where I really cared about the characters and how things were going to turn out. It was one of my large introductions into Anime! The franchise unfortunately went into a bit of a dread for a while, not helped by the fact of the awful western live action film Dragon Ball Evolution directed by James Wong which practically killed the franchise! However in 2014 the franchise was brought back with Dragon Ball Z Battle of Gods acting as a marvellous anniversary movie and the first time that the original Manga creator Akira Toriyama had returned to the franchise. I even mentioned it briefly as an honourable mention in my Top Ten Films of 2014, not quite making the list due to the fact that it was such a crowded year for good films, but it nearly made it! I was really looking forward to this film which was built as an event for all Dragon Ball fans and the perfect follow up for Battle of the Gods. So how did Resurrection F stand up when I finally got round to seeing it and by the way there may be spoilers for Dragon Ball fans although I will not be spoiling the plot of the actual film I am reviewing.

The plot of the film is fairly simple. Frieza’s lacky Sorbet (played by Jeremy Schwartz) has travelled to Earth and used the Dragon Balls to summon Shenron (played by Christopher Sabat) in order to use the wish to revive Frieza (played by Chris Ayres). Now Frieza goes into space and trains up after being revived, with one goal in mind, to exact revenge on the Saiyan’s, responsible for his death and blow up the earth for good measure and Goku and Vegeta (played by Sean Schemmel and Christopher Sabat respectively) must reach new levels of power in order to defeat him. Yes, this is a film with surprisingly little plot, it’s a direct follow up to Battle of Gods and I think anyone who hasn’t seen that movie may be slightly lost, if not completely lost, especially considering that those films kind of changed what was and what wasn’t continuity anymore, completely eliminating the sequel series, Dragon Ball GT, but while it’s a slight detriment to the film, I do think it is in some way accessible but it also coasts on the fact that you have watched most of Dragon Ball Z particularly the seasons labelled The Frieza Saga and The Beginning of the Android Saga, the former of which when Frieza was the main villain. This film, unlike its predecessor, does not give much of a back story to it and just naturally assumes you are a Dragon Ball Z fan, though frankly, this late in the game I don’t know who else is going to be seeing the film so I would hardly call that much of a detriment. I must say, I did enjoy the plot. Frieza is my favourite villain from Dragon Ball Z so I was super hyped to hear that he was going to be the villain again in this film and he was prominently featured in the advertising campaign so we were going to get a kick out of seeing him back in this film and while I’m glad he is back, he’s not entirely there. The script definitely gets down his ego and his complete need for revenge, but they don’t get down the real genocidal maniac, which was brought down by his own ego as it was in the series. I just felt he was slightly lacking, despite the fact that he has a new transformation. In fact let’s get in to the new transformations because they have also been heavily bigged up in the promotion of this film. Akira Toryama has created not only a Golden Frieza as an extra power up for the villain but he has also created new transformations for both Goku and Vegeta. Goku in the last film was able to get up to achieve his new power up the Super Saiyan God, but now they have managed to upgrade themselves to Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan and the power up looks really cool, even though, as Frieza points out, it’s basically a Super Saiyan with blue hair and the major plot problem is the fact that we don’t see their transformation into this or what led them to this transformation. The other big transformations were major character moments for people to watch, everyone remembers when Goku first went Super Saiyan and I still remember the sacrifice and torment Vegeta went through when he reached the same level, yet these transformations are just sort of, they are there, they just somehow achieved it in the downtime between films!! Now granted the opening film does show that after the events of Battle of the Gods, Goku and Vegeta went to train in martial arts with Whis in order to improve their skills and it’s naturally assumed that they reached their level during that time, but it would have been nice to have seen a scene of it. This is another point where my criticism makes me seem like I am more harsh with this film because in truth I really enjoyed this film.

The characters are there even if the cast size has been shrunk and a lot of the better fighters are not called in to deal with what is frankly ‘A Massive Crisis’!! However, the good argument would be that unlike Battle of Gods which managed to get all the cast in, this one, by shrinking the cast, allows them to actually do more on screen rather than just be there for the sake of being there which was one problem that Battle of the Gods did kind of have. But I would have appreciated some of the stronger fighters getting involved in this like Buu or Gotenks . That being said, Akira Toriyama knows how to write their characters and he really does this expertly. The characterisation is down completely and his writing is what really makes this film’s plot work well. The film bounces great action with some excellent humour, which let’s face it, Dragon Ball Z has always been well known for. The film just doesn’t have that many excellent character moments, which Battle of Gods did have. There are some good character moments here and there, but I would still argue that it just doesn’t quite measure up. The film banks on our nostalgia for the series, which is admirable, but we have already had that with Battle of Gods, it needs to move on and do something else. Battle of Gods introduced us to some new characters and kind of shook up what we knew about Dragon Ball up until that point. Resurrection F doesn’t really do that and it just kind of feels like a stand in to keep the fans busy while Dragon Ball Super is being made. That being said, it’s still a very good stand in. The fight scenes are still good which is what we want from a Dragon Ball movie and I would hardly say I wasn’t entertained by this movie, this is one of the most entertaining experiences for an Anime fan this year and it really sells its premise very well. The characters that are there are done very well and are given time to shine. The only exception to the rule is Gohan, yikes, I really hope this is not an indicator to what the writers have planned for him in Dragon Ball Super! The guy who once was one of the strongest fighters on earth has now really been dragged down half a level and it’s really perplexing as it almost seems to me that the first few seasons of Dragon Ball eventually leading up to the Cell Saga were built on the idea that Gohan was going to take over from Goku as the guardian of the Earth and the writers, ever since, the end of the Buu Saga have really forgotten that and it has really demoted the character and it’s a shame as he really was one of my favourite characters in the whole series. The only other character complaints I had are that the Frieza force aren’t really interesting like the Ginyu Force or Zarbon in the Frieza Saga. There is one guy who has a good fight with Piccalo but he really doesn’t do much at all. The characters that are done the best and given the most to do are Goku and Vegeta, especially Goku,but then again, this is a Dragon Ball movie, so what were you expecting. Their characters are done perfectly. They are both very different, yet very similar at the same time, they both push each other to each be their best and I can’t complain about anything involving them in the film, they are both very good. The only other negative I can really bring up about this film, is the film’s ending, without giving anything away, it’s rather a bit of an anti-climax, nothing is really gained by the end of the film. Battle of Gods had a very interesting ending which did an interesting thing to Goku’s character. Resurrection F doesn’t really have this and I think that is where it is lacking the most. It really hits the same notes as Battle of the Gods and as a result is it very enjoyable and entertaining for Anime Fans on that basis, but without that it just doesn’t work. The films when played together do work perfectly well, in fact I actually watched Battle of Gods right before I caught the train to go and see this movie, so the first film was incredibly fresh in my mind and those two would make an excellent double feature, which is good because, when the film does come out on DVD in Feb 2015 it will be offered as a double disc edition with Battle of the Gods and if you haven’t got that first film I would actually recommend buying both. Those are its only major flaws, as a positive, this is really what most Dragon Ball fans would want and it does deliver on a lot of fronts, I really am being too harsh and that’s because Battle of Gods was so good, it was probably the best film to come out of this franchise and believe me there are a lot of films in this franchise!! This film really was entertaining. I saw it in a largely packed cinema and everyone one was clearly having a good time, we all quietly jumped for joy when the best fight scenes happened and we all laughed at the funny moments. I think a film is successful if it just manages to entertain you on a basic level.

The acting segment of this review will be short because really there is not really much to discuss on that front. It’s most of the cast from Dragon Ball Z Kai, returned to reprise their roles in this film, so if you enjoyed them in that season, you likely will enjoy them here. Hi-lights of the film as expected are Sean Schemmel playing Goku, who once again is almost the perfect voice for the character and Christopher Sabat, who has to play 3 roles as Vegeta, Piccolo and Shenron and he is perfect in almost all of them, even if it’s getting to a stage where it’s kind of interesting to see his voices overlap between the characters. I also enjoyed Jason Douglas as Beerus who along with Whis, played by Ian Sinclair are now becoming some of my favourite characters and I think the actors are really delivering their roles perfectly. No one is really delivering a bad performance; the only exception to the rule for me is Christopher Sabat playing Frieza. Now granted Chris is a very good choice to play the character and he plays it well, it’s just that I don’t think he has quite the same effect that Linda Young and Pauline Newstone brought to the role and I really think those actresses brought the role to life and really made him my favourite villain from the franchise. That is more of a personal preference, Chris still gets down the ego maniac and I think it’s more down to the fact that Frieza isn’t given much to do, since he hasn’t got much of a goal in line unlike the Freiza saga when he was trying to get the dragon balls in order to make himself immortal, so he’s not allowed to be the genocidal maniac he was in the season when he was the main villain. It’s all I really have to say about the cast. They all do an excellent job. Oh and it’s great to see Kyle Herbert back as Gohan who is once again an excellent choice to play the character. I don’t have a negative thing to say about any of them. They all do very well and the cast is very large, so listing them all would just take too much time, trust me, if you liked them before, you will like them again and whichever issues you had with the cast beforehand in the previous season will still be there now.

Now the animation on the other hand! That’s where things get a bit tricky! This film has some of the best animation that Dragon Ball franchise has had in a long time, following on from Battle of Gods, however, it’s also inter-cut with a lot more 3D and computer animation. This I feel is largely due to the fact the film was intended for a 3D version in Japan which hasn’t made it’s way over to the USA or UK and it’s very noticeable where those moments were meant to be. I would have just liked it if those moments were just slightly more toned down although I do believe the 3D would have worked well because of it. None of it is just ugly, it’s just doesn’t mesh as well with the beautiful hand drawn animation which has been lovingly crafted for this and looks amazing. The characters get very few re-designs although I did enjoy Golden Frieza and the Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan designs of both Goku and Vegeta, both of which are given an expression of power The only design I wasn’t happy with was Gohan’s tracksuit, for the love of god, get him in his martial arts outfit!! I know his character gets time to do some bad ass things, but it’s kind of toned down when he is in a tracksuit and wearing glasses! The animation also doesn’t repeat itself a lot which was a common complaint about the series and that really aids the fight scenes, which are choreographed fantastically. Granted though, it’s based on the nostalgia of the old Goku versus Frieza fight from the show, which this doesn’t really live up to, but that was a series which had time to build up the tension and slowly escalate as the fight went on, waiting for you to see where it would go, in fact the fight in total lasted about 4 hours. That being said the fight between goku and Frieza is a real highlight of the movie You could see this and this film’s predecessor and you still would have time to see an hour of the fight scene. None of the fights looked terrible they are all brilliant which is exactly what you want from a Dragon Ball film, and believe me, it works very well. Speaking of things that work well I really liked the soundtrack while it doesn’t contain Flow’s version of Cha La Head Cha La but the songs are still really good particularly F by Japense Metal band Maximum The Hormone which I really wanna see nominated for best original song at the 2016 Oscars.

Dragon Ball Z Resurrection F is a really good time for Anime fans. I would really recommend it, though I would only recommend it to Dragon Ball fans at this point because you really need to have the back story to know what is going on, particularly to fans who saw the previous film Battle of Gods, which I must be honest, I do think is a superior film out of the two as it had a better plot and was a more fitting tribute to everything that is great about Dragon Ball. The only thing holding this one back is that it had slightly less plot and a bit of an anti-climax and less character moments which I think is down to the less experienced director, but that’s not to say it’s bad. It’s really entertaining and that’s down to it’s excellent animation, fight scenes and great dialogue, and if that’s all you need from a Dragon Ball film then I would really recommend this one to you. I reckon you won’t need to have seen this movie to see the up-coming Dragon Ball Super when that eventually gets an English dub. The film’s out on DVD and Blu Ray in Feb 2015 so it’s worth picking it up then, especially if you didn’t go to the Cinema to see this because you insisted on seeing the Japanese version. It’s not a perfect film, but it is a good film and my opinion probably sounds a lot more harsh than it really was. Honestly is was just great to see a Dragon Ball Film in a cinema that wasn’t Dragon Ball Evolution!

So what were your thoughts on Dragon Ball Z Resurrection F. How much did my opinion differ with yours. Please leave a comment, or answer my question for this week which is:

“What is your favourite moment from the entire Dragon Ball franchise?”

Now that I am fully back, it’s time to move on to my next film review. Come back on 16 when I will be reviewing what has been labelled the 3D event of the year Robert Zemeckis’s “The Walk”

Thanks for reading my reviews and I am sorry there has been a long gap!! I will try not to have such a long gap in the future!!

Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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