With the Namekian refugees nowhere to be found, there’s only one place known in the universe to access the dragon balls: Earth.
DRAGON BALL Z: RESURRECTION F
Director: Tadayoshi Yamamuro
Writer/Screenplay: Akira Toriyama
Film Editing: Shin’ichi Fukumitsu
Key Animator: Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru
Publisher: Toei Animation / Funimation
Price: varies by movie theater
Previously on Dragon Ball Z: Akira Toriyama has returned to the writing of DBZ, not being happy with the way Dragon Ball GT played out. So now GT is in another universe (there’s a multiverse now) and he’s picking up in one where that didn’t happen. This takes place ten years after the end of DBZ, and Dragon Ball Super, as well as the previous movie, Battle of the Gods, fill in the time before Resurrection F.
IT’S BEEN FIFTEEN YEARS
I think it’s best that I come right out of the gate and say that there’s nothing really “brand new” about the story of Resurrection F. In fact, so much of the story is so familiar to fans that I wouldn’t really call it original at all. Has this story been told? Well, not exactly, but close enough.
But this is also what makes the story awesome.
Frieza was killed by Future Trunks fifteen years before this movie takes place, At the beginning of the movie, with the technology to put Frieza together in place, Sorbet, makes plans to go to earth and obtain the dragon balls. It is discovered that the reason it has taken so long to search for the dragon balls to bring him back to life is that it took fifteen years to develop the tech to reconstruct Frieza from the mincemeat Trunks had turned him into. (Apparently Shenron can bring someone back to life but is not responsible for the state the body was in.)
So, the general story can easily be gleaned from what we already know about DBZ. Dragon balls are used to bring someone back to life, and since this someone wants revenge, of course they’re going to go after Goku. Meanwhile, Goku and Vegeta are MIA because they’re training with a god (kinda). There’s a lot of fighting, because of course.
But I was grinning from ear to ear for most of this movie. Akira Toriyama himself wrote the screenplay, and it’s obvious his fingerprints are all over the script. Dialogue that is classic Toriyama, not just classic DBZ, reminds me of why I love these characters so much and still do after all these years.
My major criticism is how a gigantic plot hole was left and never addressed. Since this is post Majin Buu arc, we know that Mr. Buu should be around, and is certainly the strongest fighter on Earth when Goku or Vegeta aren’t there to help. And, well, is still incredibly strong anyways. But the point is, while trying to rally allies to help stall Frieza’s forces until Goku and Vegeta can get to earth, Bulma mentions that she needs to get a hold of Mr. Buu. And then… nothing happens. I found out later while reading on the DBZ Wiki that apparently Mr. Buu was in a deep sleep, but we were never told that in the movie. Or, if we somehow missed it, it was done so in such a way that we didn’t remember it, and that’s something, given that Mr. Buu would be the best bet to stall Frieza of anyone on Earth at that moment.
Goku and Vegeta receiving special training at a non-Earth location? Totally makes sense from what we know of them. But Mr. Buu just not showing up or having a valid reason that is actively addressed is a problem, especially since it’s explained away why Yamcha, Chiaotzu, Trunks and Goten aren’t there.
I get that DBZ has a huge cast, and that it is even more difficult to include everyone in a movie. But I think a better explanation could have been said on-screen to excuse Mr. Buu’s absence.
Frieza’s personal hell is so perfect for him and absolutely hilarious (to us, the viewers) and so very Toriyama that I immediately had no regrets having to pay IMAX ticket prices to see the movie. It’s also worth it to see Jaco, the Galactic Patrolman, animated. (There’s a single volume of his adventures that were released last year by Viz Comics, which at the end the reader realizes is actually a Dragon Ball prequel.)
There was an interesting “behind the scenes” look before the movie started, and while I understand why they did it, I probably wouldn’t watch that part again when I get the DVD. It was helpful to get a small primer on what the Super Saiyan God form was, though, before going in. (It will be explored further in Dragon Ball Super.)
Also, wait for after the credits. The scene is short, but perfect.
QUITE THE PUZZLE, TO PUT AN EMPEROR BACK TOGETHER
If the story is similar to what we’ve seen before, then what makes Resurrection F a must see? The answer would be, first and foremost, the animation. It got a big budget and plenty of character designs from Toriyama himself, and it looks so polished that I sometimes just want to sit and stare at different frames. No shortcuts were taken here, and it shows.
I feel like this animation comes closer to the feel the manga had, which was understandably difficult to replicate. And DBZ was a long series, and longer series tend to have points that suffer more than others.
The Dragon Ball franchise has had plenty of animation fails, but I’m glad none of them are here.
One of the problems that DBZ has, in general, is that with the power levels (over 9000!) so high, this makes the combatants move so fast that it looks like they’re invisible. Which is great on a story level, but… really feels lazy when used too often. But when factoring in my final rating for this movie, I certainly will not be looking at it like it’s something the movie did but the TV show didn’t. In fact, if we’re to talk about tropes for a DBZ fight, that’s something that needs to be there at some point.
The animation department figured out a great way around this, and this was shockwaves causing massive collateral damage to the landscape. I’m amazed that I’m still as amused at how much landscape gets destroyed in these fights as I did when I was in middle school. But since this is a movie with a big budget, the cliffs look gorgeous as they crumble into the sea, the craters look super cool, etc.
When I realized that this fight was going to happen on Earth, I seriously wondered how they were going to address this issue. It’s been brought up in the TV show before, about how their power levels are getting dangerously high. But the movie addresses that in a really brilliant way, which I won’t spoil.
The music suited the movie perfectly, and I’m hoping Funimation releases the soundtrack with the movie when it comes out on DVD/Blu Ray. It pulls directly from my nostalgia, but I’m also sure that new aspects were added to the music that weren’t there before.
The movie was dubbed in English in the movie theaters, and the sub vs dub debate is one that I think will always exist in anime fandom. But I was glad to see it dubbed here – I got to enjoy the animation more by not having to do a lot of reading, and it was such pretty animation, too. It also plays into my nostalgia, and it further helps by having one of my favorite English voice actors in the cast. (Jason Douglas as Lord Beerus, for those curious.) Funimation no longer super edits and messes with the translations, so Frieza didn’t come back from the Home For Infinite Losers.
BOTTOM LINE: A LOVE LETTER FROM THE CREATOR TO THE FANS
It’s hard to gauge how people who are on the fence about DBZ would like this. People who don’t like DBZ definitely won’t be won over with this, but I think this is very much a case where it was created for the fans. Toriyama isn’t trying to win new hearts, but what he gives here is what he knows his fans love about the story. This is a DBZ movie for DBZ fans, and I’m still a DBZ fan, after all these years. I loved this, and I went in knowing that I was probably going to like it. I was surprised by how much I loved it, and most of what I loved wasn’t the actual fighting, but the character interaction, in all the bits between. Also, it was very pretty.
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