Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F – Movie Review

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F movie poster.

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F movie poster.

It’s no secret that I love Dragon Ball Z (DBZ). I wrote about it a couple of years ago ago. So imagine how excited I was when Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods was announced during the summer of 2012. I had to wait a year before I was able to watch it with subtitles, and another half year beyond that to watch the English dub. While it was enjoyable, and definitely better than most of the DBZ movies that were produced in the 1990s, it wasn’t fantastic by any stretch of the imagination. It seems it was just a re-introduction to the world a few years after the events of the Majin Buu arc that closed the 90s TV show, and it showed as the characters didn’t really develop much. Instead Battle of Gods focused primarily on humor, fighting, and nostalgia. Which isn’t bad, and it was a fun romp at the very least. Most people (myself included) were just happy to see DBZ updated with contemporary, high-definition animation since the TV show ended in Japan long before the HD age. Yet it seemed lacking in a lot of areas.

Thankfully, Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F improves on Battle of Gods by quite a good margin. Resurrection F takes place perhaps a year after Battle of Gods. Goku and Vegeta are off training with Whis (pronounced “weese”) in Beerus‘ realm. Meanwhile, the flailing remnants of Frieza‘s (the main villain of the Namekian arc of the TV show) empire concoct a plan to, at long last, resurrect their lord and master with the use of the Earth’s Dragon Balls. They succeed, and using a new type of cellular regeneration technology, they are able to get Frieza back into fighting shape. Yet Frieza realizes that at his current level he won’t stand a chance against Goku’s Super Saiyan form, so Frieza does something he has never done before: train to increase his strength. After several months, Frieza sets course for Earth with over a thousand soldiers in order to exact his revenge, but with Goku and Vegeta training in Beerus’ realm, some of Earth’s other heroes have to step up to the plate until they can call their heavy hitters home.

Resurrection F follows a very typical DBZ plot formula: the Earth’s weaker heroes must bide their time and hold the lines until Goku and Vegeta return. We’ve seen this a lot over the course of DBZ, and quite frankly, you’d think the same formula would be tiring. Yet given the movie’s fast pace it isn’t so bad, and Toriyama (or any other screenwriters who were involved in making Resurrection F) actually writes character dialogue that jokingly points out the recycled plot device when Krillin exhorts Goku to show up when the battle actually begins next time. In fact, this entry delightfully parodies what fans and detractors have criticized DBZ of for years. For example, when Tien shows up to help fight Frieza’s lackeys, he states he didn’t bother telling Yamcha or Chiaotzu because even the weak members of Frieza’s army are “too much for them.” Even Master Roshi gets in on the action, and he still can’t even fly! So I guess Yamcha and Chiaotzu have become especially weak…Unfortunately, even Gohan is only a shadow of the strong fighter he once was. In the TV show, he surpassed even Goku during both the Cell arc, and arguably during the Majin Buu arc, and it was disappointing to see him relegated to the weaker crew. Despite this, Goku and Vegeta really shine, and their rivalry (which is pretty friendly at this point even if they don’t like to admit it) continues to take them to new heights and powers. Both even get some character development this time around, if only a bit.

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F isn’t a perfect movie by any means. It rehashes old plot tricks, and with the focus on lots of action it doesn’t have time to highlight the entirety of DBZ‘s extensive cast of characters, much less give them any significant development. But it does get a lot right. Frieza is a delightfully arrogant and verbose villain that isn’t bound by the strict codes of honor and love of fighting that many of the other characters, and even some of the villains throughout the series display. The animation is phenomenal and really portrays the hits and action wonderfully. There were plenty of nostalgic cash-ins for longtime fans, such as Master Roshi beefing up to fight Frieza’s army, and Krillin putting on the ol’ gi and shaving his head. Finally, while it is a DBZ movie through and through, it isn’t afraid to poke fun of itself and the usual DBZ tropes. Resurrection F is easily one of the best DBZ movies to date. I wouldn’t doubt that some would argue it is the best, but I still think Dead Zone holds that title for me. Both more recent and longtime fans of DBZ will highly enjoy Resurrection F. Let’s hope that the new TV show, Dragon Ball Super, can keep things rolling.

As an addendum, it’s hard to express in words how much you enjoy a movie, especially during a review when you have to consider both the strengths and the weaknesses of that movie. Let me just say while watching Resurrection F, I did something I’ve not done in a long, long time. Probably not since I was a teenager watching DBZ on Cartoon Network when it was still new and fresh. There were during points Resurrection F where I was laughing, bouncing up and down on the couch, and throwing punches at the air all at the same time. If you did any of these things when watching the TV show, you’ll probably do it while watching Resurrection F. Just sayin. (Pun intended.)

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