Dragon Ball recently returned to the big screen and our site founder already offered his thoughts on the film but before Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ hits digital and home video, here’s a second opinion.
In the direct follow-up to the animated film Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, the remnants of Frieza’s army revive their lord using the Earth’s dragon balls. He has spent many years in his own personal hell since being sliced up by Trunks, so naturally the first thing on his mind is revenge. However, he is cautioned that Goku has become considerably stronger since their last encounter and has even fought Beerus the destroyer, so Frieza trains himself for four months before returning to Earth. The Galactic Patrol gets wind of his return and sends their officer Jaco to inform Goku but the Earth’s savior and his long-time rival Vegeta are training on Beerus’ planet with Whis. It’s up to the Earth’s remaining protectors to hold off the Frieza force until Bulma can reach Goku and Vegeta and inform them of Frieza’s return.
As a standalone work, Resurrection ‘F’ would likely fall flat. To fully enjoy the experience and feel the significance of Goku and Frieza’s rematch, you already have to be familiar with Dragon Ball Z. Much like Battle of Gods, this movie is first and foremost for Dragon Ball fans. Someone new to the franchise should start elsewhere but if they only came for the dynamic fights and some laughs then it will probably at least be entertaining. The ultimate fan tribute in this film is the inclusion of Jaco, another character from Akira Toriyama the creator of Dragon Ball. I am not the least bit familiar with Jaco but he made for a great straight man as an outside observer to all the familiar characters and how insane they would seem to a normal person.
Unlike Battle of Gods which largely indulged in classic Dragon Ball hijinks outside of Goku’s final showdown with Beerus, Resurrection ‘F’ feels a lot more in-line with the previous Dragon Ball Z films that spent most of their run time milking over the top battles. Also unlike Battle of Gods, Goku and Vegeta are not the only ones showcasing their fighting prowess. The battle with Frieza’s army offers plenty of thrilling moments with Piccolo, Gohan, Krillin, Tien and even Master Roshi. Jaco begrudgingly lends a hand as well and his fighting style adds a bit more variety to the usual barrage of kicks, punches and energy beams. However, in typical DBZ fashion, the main event does not begin until Goku arrives. While the comedic side of this film is not as pronounced as that of Battle of Gods, they leave plenty of time for some fun gags. There is no shortage of scenes with Beerus and Whis eating to their delight or Jaco reacting to the increasingly unbelievable situation and there are also amusing moments for Krillin, Piccolo, Gohan, Master Roshi and Bulma. Overall, the film has a better balance in the drama to comedy ratio than that of Battle of Gods.
The central focus of this film is Frieza enacting his revenge on Goku for humiliating him on Namek. Goku has had a lot of adversaries over the years and most fans have their favorites but of all the previous antagonists in Dragon Ball, Frieza does seem like the best choice to revive. While prior dubs of the series may not have done the intergalactic overlord justice, Chris Ayres’ performance as Frieza offers the right amount of charisma to juxtapose his otherwise menacing personality. You can tell he buys into his own hype and that he thinks so lowly of everyone else. It is that persona that makes him so delightfully evil. He is the kind of villain you love to hate. Perhaps most importantly, this film offered the opportunity for Frieza to interact with a very different Vegeta than the one he once lorded over. Re-introducing Frieza into the mix is a decent spring board for an interesting story but I felt they squandered a bit of that potential by the way the events of the film played out. The stakes never felt as high as they should have and the climax of the battle leaves a lot to be desired. Until that climax, the rematch is a spectacle to behold and you could argue what happened is right in line with Frieza’s character but it lacks a certain amount of satisfaction.
The overall message is a bit heavy handed. When Goku and Vegeta train with Whis he clues them in on what each of them are lacking as a warrior and sure enough Goku’s battle with Frieza hammers in exactly what that is. There’s something I rather dislike about Goku in this film. He feels a bit out of character. In nearly all circumstances Goku takes fighting entirely seriously or at least enjoys himself while he’s doing it. It’s part of his heritage as a Saiyan. Maybe he’s just fed up dealing with Frieza but even he admits that his old adversary would be a great sparring partner if he wasn’t so evil. Given that, his attitude toward fighting Frieza here just doesn’t feel right. Goku acts as if the situation has become a chore. When does Goku ever think that way about fighting? Where’s the sportsman who fought various opponents out of the sheer enjoyment of fighting? On top of that he’s annoyingly overconfident throughout most of the battle. I have only seen the dub so I can’t compare Sean Schemmel’s performance to Masako Nozawa’s but I imagine this was the intention of the script and not just how the performance turned out. The rematch between Goku and Frieza is a far cry from the final battle between Goku and Beerus where the Earth’s savior was constantly against the ropes. That makes their visually thrilling rematch feel surprisingly lacking.
The traditional animation of the film looks beautiful in action and the fight choreography will pull you into each moment but the 3D rendering mixed in can take you right back out. While the CGI animation is not badly done, the 3D rendering does not blend seamlessly with the 2D animation. It can be quite jarring from time to time though not enough to ruin the visual presentation. Basing the audio presentation off the dub track alone, everyone seems fine. Some standout performances include Jason Douglas and Ian Sinclair returning as Lord Beerus and Whis, Chris Ayres breathing new life into Frieza and Todd Haberkorn stealing the show as Jaco. Chris Sabat’s Vegeta and Piccolo, Sonny Straight’s Krillin, Mike McFarland’s Master Roshi and Monica Rial’s Bulma are in top form and Kyle Hebert’s Gohan is much improved from the dub of the TV series. The soundtrack which makes use of Maximum the Hormone’s “F”, has a greater emphasis on driving rock licks similar to the American made soundtracks than the whimsical style of the TV series original orchestral score. Aside from having a few controversial recasts held over from Dragon Ball Z Kai, fans of FUNimation’s old dub of Dragon Ball Z should be very pleased with the audio presentation.
As I said earlier, this is not a good starting point for someone who has never experienced Dragon Ball Z before but as far as a simple narrative with a lot of fighting goes, you can do a lot worse than Resurrection ‘F’. There’s nothing ground breaking here but it is Dragon Ball Z doing what it does best. For long time fans, this movie is a treat on par with Battle of Gods and more in-line with what they would expect from a feature length Dragon Ball Z adventure. Despite its’ shortcomings this is one of the best Dragon Ball Z animated features thus far. Resurrection ‘F’ has a solid mix of action, humor and drama that is appropriate for all ages and it is a lot of fun to watch. If you’re up for a straight forward action adventure then it is well worth checking out. That’s why I give Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection of ‘F’ an 8 out of 10.
You can pre-order Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ for Digital HD or standard definition on iTunes and download it on October 9th before the home video release or pre-order the standard DVD, standard Blu-ray DVD combo pack or collectors edition Blu-ray DVD combo pack on DragonBallZ.com before they are released on October 20th.
Witten by: Andrew “Sketch” Hingson
Editor in Chief of ToonamiFaithful.com