Dragonball Z: Resurrection F (Blu-Ray) Review

If nothing else, Resurrection F highlights just how goofy Dragonball Z truly is at its core. I mean, look at the basic premise: one of the most iconic DBZ villains gets resurrected by the magical dragon Shenron, tries to find and kill his worst enemies - who are busy training under the tutelage of a pair of gods on another planet - and ends up attaining a form that turns him into gold while he does battle with blue-haired antagonists.

Like I said: goofy.

Following on from Battle of Gods, the plot of Resurrection F kicks off with former galactic tyrant Lord Freeza getting brought back to life thanks to the unfortunately-named Lord Sorbet (because every major Freeza-related villain, like King Cold, Cooler and Lord Chilled, has to be named after something frosty - next thing you know, Goku will be fighting King Esky and his apprentice, Lord Gelato). Freeza quickly sets off for Earth to smack around Goku and his friends, whilst Goku and Vegeta are off learning to be Super Saiyan Gods under the watchful eye of Beerus and Whis. Freeza shows up at Earth's doorstop with an army of minions wanting sweet revenge, and does battle with the main roster of DBZ's main characters until Goku and Vegeta can show up.

And that's it, really. After the initial half hour of plot setup, Resurrection F turns into one prolonged series of fight scenes with the occasional humorous quip. That's both a good and bad thing.

First up, full disclosure: I haven't seen Battle of Gods yet. Resurrection F is billed as a direct sequel, and is possibly part of the new Dragon Ball Super universe that's unfolding, but it does a really good job of orienting viewers who didn't catch the last movie without copious exposition. That said, it's definitely not good for anyone who hasn't seen DBZ before, as it assumes the viewer is familiar with who Freeza is and why he's got a chip on his shoulder the size of Balmain.

Once the action gets started, there are some truly excellent battles that surpass most of what the original anime had to offer. It's clear that twenty-first century animation has been kind to DBZ in comparison to the aged, weathered look the series has now; with the benefit of updated technology and more layered colours, it's constantly a visually sumptuous film. As well as the grander scale of updating, I also appreciate the little touches, like Goku's new boots or the way shadows play over the lines of Freeza's face. The attention to detail is on full showcase here.

Voice acting has also improved, with most of the cast being veterans of the original anime. Sean Schemmel and Chris Sabat are in fine form as Goku and Vegeta/Piccolo, respectively, and they play admirably off of Freeza's chilling (ha!) new voice actor, Christopher Ayres. Eschewing the strained throat-scratching of Linda Young's original rendition from the anime, Ayres brings the right level of menace and majesty to the resurrected Freeza, and is easily one of the film's highlights.

But all of the above aside, I found Resurrection F lacking on the story front. It plays almost beat-for-beat like a rehash of many of the older, out-of-continuity DBZ films - in particular, Cooler's Revenge. The villain - who is related to/is Freeza - shows up on Earth with his minions, the minions get dispatched by the Z warriors, the villain kicks the Z warriors' asses for a while before Goku finally gives them their just desserts. The abrupt ending and lack of substantial plot leading up to it only further fuel the comparison.

Don't get me wrong, it's still a fun flick, but there was an opportunity here to make Freeza's return more terrifying than it's played as. If I'm honest, most of the film feels like a comedy rather than an action story, especially when Beerus and Whis decide to spectate with a giant strawberry sundae during the fight between Freeza and Goku. Any horror or tension that might have been elicited by Freeza coming back to life to finally destroy Goku once and for all is robbed after the first half hour; the goofiness of DBZ is hammered home when Freeza's minions are laughably easily dispatched and Goku comes to kick Freeza's ass (which, spoiler alert, he totally does). I know nuance isn't always Dragonball Z's specialty, but there was potential here for a much more potent film than the one we got. Hell, if you want an unnerving villain and an unsettling premise, I found something like Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan to be infinitely more replete with tension.

While it's visually delicious and engaging on the action side, Resurrection F fails to impress in the story department. It's kind of a popcorn film; fun while it lasts, but otherwise unremarkable. It's not a classic the way The Dead Zone or the Broly movies are, but there's still fun to be had. If nothing else, the new electric blue Super Saiyan God hair looking pretty sweet, and it's always nice to hear Sean Schemmel scream so hard when powering up that you can practically hear his lungs filing divorce proceedings.

- Chris

Dragonball Z: Resurrection F is available on Blu-Ray and DVD now.

Review copy supplied to Geek of Oz by Madman Entertainment.


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