“The latest of these big screen supplements, Resurrection F, fiercely adheres to the show’s tried-and-true formula with a respect that borders on piety. It’s silly, explosive, and funny, packing its lean run time tight with the same over-the-top characters, protracted battle sequences, and slapstick humor that resonated so deeply with the generation it helped raise.”
Dragon Ball Z still stands as one of the most successful anime franchises ever to grace the small screen. Action-packed but poorly scripted and hopelessly confusing, Dragon Ball Z has spawned countless debates about quality and what actually makes the show so appealing to its chosen demographic.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but the show’s gleeful dismissal of structure and substance somehow make it that much more endearing. It knows exactly what it brings to the table, and revels in its own absurdity. The franchise even broke free of the constraints of modern television and pumped out a number of supplemental films that somehow managed to entertain despite their blatant disregard for anything but mindless action.
The latest of these big screen supplements, Resurrection F, fiercely adheres to the show’s tried-and-true formula with a respect that borders on piety. It’s silly, explosive, and funny, packing its lean run time tight with the same over-the-top characters, protracted battle sequences, and slapstick humor that resonated so deeply with the generation it helped raise. It’s an immensely satisfying ride, but the disparity between film’s poor writing and its incredible entertainment value forced me to think of it in two separate ways – one with critical merit, and the other with personal enjoyment. That may make little sense, but so does Dragon Ball Z.
Following on the blood-caked heels of last year’s underwhelming Battle of Gods, Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F takes one of anime’s best, most recognizable villains and decks him out with new powers, new henchman, and a whole lot of misplaced rage. After Trunks made Frieza sushi way back in the original show’s fourth season, a host of more formidable villains appeared to fill the void left by such an iconic foe. Now, though, Frieza’s back and angrier than ever, sporting an incredible new golden sheen that signifies higher power levels and a ton of hilariously unclear new abilities that are never explained or touched on in any way. Of course, Goku, Vegeta, and the rest of the Z Fighters arrive to send him back to Hell screaming, this time assisted by Lord Beerus (the god of destruction) and his other-worldly assistant, Whis.
As far as Dragon Ball Z features go, this latest outing takes the cake as the funniest, shiniest, and cheesiest one yet. Lead voice actors Sean Schemmel (Goku) and Christopher Sabat (Vegeta) return in top form, their excitement at being able to slip back into these characters apparent in every scene they appear in. They bring their onscreen chemistry with them, tossing jokes and jabs at each other as their characters leap and dance across the battflefield with a grace only a true Saiyan could possess.
Despite it being a solid addition to the Dragon Ball Z canon, the film suffers from missteps that ultimately soften its impact on viewers. One of the most frustrating creative decisions the film makes involves its exclusion of two beloved characters who really help make the series what it became towards the end of its run. Every character but Goku, Vegeta, and Frieza are pretty much ignored from the start, resulting in an unbalanced film that fails to recognize the lovable side characters we grew up with.
I also grew annoyed after I realized how inconsistent Frieza’s new power levels were. He went from nearly killing a powerful Z fighter in his weakest form to getting his ass handed to him by Goku in his “Super Golden Frieza” form. Not only did this make no sense, but it took away any formidability he may have had prior to his belated resurrection.
At the end of the day, though, Resurrection F works. It shouldn’t, but it totally does. It may not be the movie we needed, but it’s definitely the movie we deserved. Akira Toriyama and his fellow filmmakers delivered on every promise they made when the film first came to the public’s attention. They obviously weren’t trying to reinvent the show. They wanted to build upon what they knew already worked, and they have.
Resurrection F won’t earn the series any new diehards, but it will certainly please those who go into it expecting to see everything explode.
Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F hits theaters in North America on August 4th for a limited run through August 12th!