Dragonball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ (Cert 12)
1 Disc (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 94 minutes approx.
You can’t keep a good franchise down, even if the only original new material comes in the form of the occasional spin-off film such as the one under review here. Akira Toriyama’s Dragonball manga burst onto the scene in the 1980’s and the subsequent anime adaptation became one the most popular and successful Japanese exports as well as becoming a domestic institution.
The original TV series may have ended in the early 1990’s – although a new one Dragonball Super began in Japan last year – but the films keep coming. Dragonball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ is the latest addition to the big screen collection and once again sees Toriyama writing the screenplay and overseeing the whole project.
Set after the events of Dragonball Z and the Battle Of Gods film, the earth is a peaceful place once again but out in space the remaining members of Frieza’s squad, led by an unfailing loyal alien a named Sorbet, arrive on earth having discovered that Pilaf and his crew have successfully managed to gather all the Dragonballs again. Having summoned Shenron, Sorbet bullies Pilaf to request that Shenron revive Frieza, whose dismantled body parts are found and rejoined.
After awakening Frieza immediately vows vengeance against Son Goku and decides for the first time in his life to train in preparation for their second showdown. Meanwhile Goku and Vegeta are in the realm of God of Destruction Beerus, training with Whis when Frieza’s army arrive on earth, leaving it to the rest of the Z-Fighters to hold the fort while Bulma tries to get a message to Goku.
One of the benefits of the sci-fi/fantasy genre is that one can abuse simple things like logic to suit whatever narrative they have in mind, which Toriyama has taken full advantage of with the dragonballs’ power to revive dead people. Thus we are asked to overlook the small matter of Frieza originally being sliced into pieces by Trunks then obliterated with his remaining cells used to create another villain, Cell, to facilitate this comeback.
With a solid chunk of the Dragonball audience being on the younger side suspension of disbelief will come very easily and Frieza’s return will be met with awe; for us older and more cynical types however, Toriyama has rushed this part of the story through inside the first fifteen minutes so it doesn’t linger long enough for some of us to hopefully not be bothered that much by it.
Frieza is considered the quintessential Dragonball villain so his returns isn’t that much of a surprise in terms of a continuing narrative, but the caveat is that, even with his new and improved powers, Frieza has been soundly and fatally defeated before so what kind of threat can he realistically pose this time? Had he been only severely injured then returned a stronger force then you’d have a story.
Another recurring Dragonball plot device is the initial absence of nominal hero Goku when the crisis hits. A staple contrivance since the early days of DBZ, it is eye rollingly predictable that he would again be elsewhere when the invasion begins, leaving it to the others to be the first line of defence only to have their efforts overshadowed by late arrival Goku.
Keeping Goku’s seat warm are Krillin, Gohan, Piccolo, Tien Shinhan and Master Roshi, who enjoy a multiman punch up against Frieza’s army, giving them a moment to shine before their efforts are usurped by Johnny Come Latelys Goku and Vegeta. Joining in the fight is Jaco, a Galactic Patrolman, another creation of Toriyama’s which overlaps into the Dragonball universe.
With Frieza is left for Goku to defeat, the fruits of the labours of both fighters vis-à-vis their intense training are revealed with their new power up forms – Frieza has his “Golden Frieza” level, debuting a sleek gold plated armour, while both Goku and Vegeta can now reach “Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan” mode! How powerful is that? Well, their hair turns blue…
The biggest problem with the script is not just that we know Frieza will fall to Goku, or that he is no longer a viable threat but – slight spoiler – he needs help to get an advantage. If he was that powerful he could wipe out the Z-Fighters in the blink of an eye and take Goku to the limit without breaking a sweat. Yet the only times Frieza is in the driver’s seat comes from external assistance.
With the main villain easily neutered the heroes don’t fare so well either, with the remaining Z-fighters reduced to cheerleader status for the second half and the all powerful Beerus and Whis are now comic relief. Throw in a deus ex machina ending and this all adds up to a script which feels cobble together in one morning for the sake of a new project that will reap huge rewards.
That said, the biggest strength this film can boast is the production values and the budget has been put to good use in bringing us a glorious looking presentation, rich in depth and detail brought out in pin sharp detail for the benefit of HD viewers. The animation is naturally a quantum leap from the TV shows meaning we actually get to see the punches being thrown in the battles and not just a flurry of blurred motion.
Every character looks fresh and vibrant, complete with a change in appearance to denote the passing of time yet stick to the original designs with their personalities intact. The cartoony quality of the show remains to appease old school fans, which hasn’t been dulled by the sparkling modern make over which will appeal to younger fans.
Despite the over analysis of the flaws of the story Dragonball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ delivers everything devoted fans could want, in its own inimitable style. Consider this film a twelve episode TV arc condensed into an action packed 94 minutes and you won’t be disappointed.
English Language 5.1 DTS-Master Audio
English Language 2.0
Japanese Language 5.1 DTS-Master Audio
The Voices Of Dragonball Z
The Return Of Dragonball Z
Rating – ***
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