Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ Review

Frieza has returned! But does a golden exterior make for a golden Dragon Ball Z film? Spoilers ahead! (Maybe.)

Among all of the animated shows that have come out of Japan, Dragon Ball Z is a titan. Here in the United States, plenty of people may have no knowledge of anime, but odds are that they still know about Dragon Ball Z. Case in point: during a speech at my college baccalaureate ceremony, one of the speakers wore a kind of turban. He opened his speech with how “he looks so much like Piccolo right now,” and the whole auditorium filled with hearty laughs. While last year’s DBZ release, Battle of Gods, was a success for Funimation, Resurrection ‘F’ surpassed expectations. As previously reported, it now ranks as the 9th highest-grossing anime film in the country. So, how does the actual film compare to the success it has achieved? Well, at the very least, Resurrection ‘F’ is an enjoyable film in its own right, though that isn’t to say it doesn’t come without a few problems.

One of the first things that caught my attention while watching this film was Toei’s use of CGI. The opening scene has CGI landscapes, and, despite the film already crediting original creator Akira Toriyama, I questioned whether it was part of the film or if a company logo would appear (it was part of the film). Most of the film is, of course, in a handrawn-style: this portion is done quite well, with the film appearing colorful and bright, and the characters expressive and rather fluid in motion, along with their designs being quite varied. (Two things that bothered me, though, were the changing lengths of Bulma’s shirt and pants and the switch Beerus makes from using a fork to using a spoon at one point, but those are personal nitpicks.) However, a number of the animated sequences contain CGI: the ship Frieza pilots, water and rock formations, and characters during battle sequences. The use of it during those fights is interesting: when implemented, the camera pans around a character or characters to get a full view of the action. While this gives the film a unique look, the CGI is pretty noticeable with each use, rather than being seamlessly implemented. It’s not immensely cringe-worthy, per se, but when I was watching the fight sequences, particularly those involving Goku and Frieza, it looked as if I was watching a cut-scene from one of the Dragon Ball Z games: not unattractive, but not terribly impressive, either.

"Who needs CGI when you look like me?"
“Who needs CGI when you look like me?”

One of my biggest problems with the film is that the plot is also less-than-impressive. The main concept of the movie is that Frieza has been resurrected using the Dragon Balls. He uses this second lease-on-life to seek revenge against Goku (and Trunks, though no one amongst his crew has been able to find the one that killed him). After being warned of the great power Goku has been able to obtain, Frieza prepares himself by training for four months. The premise itself is an interesting one: how will Goku, fresh off his increased abilities from Battle of Gods, fare against a powered-up Frieza, an enemy who took thirty-odd episodes to defeat? The execution of this, however, is rather lackluster.

The amount of tension during their fight was near-zero for the whole duration. Even when Frieza shows off his newly attained form, Goku seems unimpressed. During the fight itself, Goku has the upper-hand for the vast majority, with Frieza getting a hit in here and there. To be blunt, Frieza comes off as a joke once Goku and Vegeta arrive on the scene: any tension and fear he instilled when he first arrives on Earth is taken away with the arrival of the two Saiyans. While knowing Frieza won’t win at the end of it all, there isn’t really a long segment in which he decidedly has an advantage over our Saiyan heroes. Frieza is given two major moments to have the upper-hand, but they are cut short within a few minutes. Even the way his advantages are taken away from him are somewhat predictable, as long as you were paying a decent amount of attention to what was going on throughout the film. Overall, I would say that the actual fight between Frieza and Goku turns out to be the weakest part of the film.

That isn’t to say that it doesn’t have any enjoyable moments. Much like Battle of Gods, the dynamic between our protagonists and the main antagonist is peppered with comedic quips. That comes as a bit of a trade-off in this movie: replacing the fear Frieza once instilled with comedy. While there are a few sections that I enjoyed, such as the dialogue between Goku and Vegeta once they arrive on the scene as well as that between Bulma and Frieza, for the most part, the comedy shines elsewhere in the film. In the end, these other parts of the movie are the real selling point. From the inside jokes and references relating to the show (such as Tien mentioning the lack of Yamcha and Chiaotzu) to genuinely funny moments that stand on their own (Jaco’s quips, in particular), the film is a fun ride most of the way through. Other than a forced poo joke near the beginning of the movie, the comedy is pretty much on-point.

Jaco is quite comfortable all the way in the back.
Jaco is quite comfortable all the way in the back.

Seeing some of these characters back in action is also a real treat: Tien, Krillin, Piccolo, Gohan, and even Master Roshi get to show off their moves for a bit. Newcomer Jaco also gets time to shine while taking on some of Frieza’s men, with a joke always around the corner. While it’s great to see the back-up get their chance at screen-time, it is a major downsize in character appearances from Battle of Gods, which comes off as disappointing. I was a little disappointed when Android 18 was left behind as Krillin went to fight, a moment that was both funny and acknowledged a logic flaw (yet ignored it, anyway). While it was a missed opportunity to see her and Krillin fight side-by-side (just get Chi-chi to babysit), I can understand that the focus was on him being faced with Frieza once again. While it would have been difficult to have as many cameos as the last film, a few more familiar faces would have been a plus.

I was pretty impressed with the sound effects in this one: there was a nice amount of variation for how different laser beams sounded, which was nice to hear. The soundtrack itself was somewhat sparse, however: it was strange to hear the sounds of moves charging and being released without any music in the background at certain points, and for some reason Frieza’s theme song seemed a little out-of-place, perhaps in part due to the atmosphere of the scene not really matching up with the atmosphere of the music. I was also a little disappointed that Momoiro Clover Z didn’t really get to perform their rendition of “Cha-La Head-Cha-La” like FLOW did in last year’s film, but it isn’t the most upsetting of missed opportunities. In terms of the acting, it was spot-on: by now, the cast knows their characters extremely well, and even the newer voices did a great job with their parts. While the soundtrack could have had a better presence, it isn’t a major detractor from the film itself.

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ is an entertaining Dragon Ball film that makes use of its storied presence in Japanese (and, in turn, Western) culture: the dialogue is amusing, the characters play off one another rather well, and it continues to build upon an already-large universe from the end of the Buu Saga. While Frieza is in a way wasted as an antagonist and even Vegeta’s presence is downsized a bit, the film shows that it is very much aware of the tropes the DBZ franchise has propagated. While somewhat disappointing, at the end of the day, it’s a film that can take a few jabs at itself and laugh along with the audience. If you’re hoping for a good time with some of the Dragon Ball gang, this film, for the most part, delivers.

What are your thoughts on the film? Let us know in the comments below! Also, be sure to leave a comment on what anime movie you want us to review next. Until then, I’ll be floating around on my nimbus cloud. ( ∩ _ ∩ )

The Good

  • It's fun seeing the most of the gang back together to take down an old foe
  • The dialogue is pretty sharp and delivers a number of laughs
  • Side characters from the show get more screen time
  • The characters are expressive and the animation is colorful and bright with a lot of fluid motion

The Bad

  • The story is a little silly and doesn't live up to the idea of what the return of Frieza implies
  • Frieza himself is more of a joke than the sinister villain from the original show
  • CGI reminded me of the video games and took me out of the experience a bit
  • Soundtrack could have been better incorporated

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About the Author

Cindy Caraturo

Continual student of the Japanese language and valiant attempter at novel (and article!) writing. Enjoys when it's softly raining outside and is an avid drinker of quali-tea. Also thinks she is amusing. Take that for what you will. (⌒▽⌒)

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