I think it says a lot about me that nothing inspires nostalgia in my adult self like watching aliens get punched in the face.
I grew up on Dragonball Z. It was everything the action-obsessed preteen boy I was wanted in a cartoon: Grown men screaming, shooting energy blasts at each other, and just generally beating the tar out of anything that moved with no-brainer plots as the backdrop. It’s like animated pro-wrestling, but instead of title belts and avenging folding chair ambushes, the fate of the universe is at stake. As T.J. so aptly points out, “It’s really dumb, but you can’t help but love it.”
Of course, I’ve grown up quite a bit from that little boy. But it speaks to the power of those memories and the influence of DBZ that I felt like him again, settled into a front-row theater seat on a Saturday morning like a kid waiting for his cartoons to start. DBZ has encountered a resurgence of late, what with original creator Akira Toriyama returning like the prodigal manga creator to give us more on the adventures of Goku. Resurrection F is the second movie to come out since the Toriyama renaissance.
The premise of the story is simple, and a comic book favorite. The bad guy that Goku, and later Trunks, killed about halfway through the series, Frieza, is returned to life through the titular plot device/deus ex machina: the dragon balls. Frieza, everyone’s favorite ill-tempered space tyrant midget, resents his stay in hell courtesy the Super Saiyans, and decides that, for the first time in both his previous and newly-restored lives, he’s going to get off his scaly ass and work out. Actually training conveniently erases the monumental gap in power that exists between him and the protagonists, who have been frying bigger fish for scores of episodes and several movies at this point. Thus, More Swole Frieza returns to Earth for a butt-kicking festival that culminates in a grudge match with the one and only Son Goku.
It ain’t Shakespeare, but it is DBZ, and it works. The plot is thin, ridiculous, and somehow, completely sufficient for any series aficionado to roll with. If the narrative has a noticeable flaw behind this set-up, it’s that it shamelessly caters to fans of the series- so much so that anybody in the audience who hasn’t watched the show, or seen the previous film, “Battle of the Gods”, is going to be very, very confused. Resurrection F could even be called unaccessible for those non-Dragonball people we’re inevitably dragging to the theater (thanks Chloe!).
This is alleviated by the action that is the staple of this property, and in that, Resurrection F doesn’t disappoint. The fighting is awesome. We get to see our favorite characters kick a lot of butt, we get to see the weaker ones provide some comic relief while doing so, we get to see cool Super Saiyan transformations, and we get to see Goku and Frieza pound on each other. This is what anybody sitting through a DBZ movie wants, and this is what the movie delivers. It’s slower getting there than I would have liked, but once the Kamehamehass started flying in earnest, my entertainment soon followed.
Resurrection F is a tribute to the series so many of us loved so dearly growing up. It pays lip service to our love and nostalgia every chance it gets, all while giving us the gratuitous, gorgeously animated, hit-and-quip action that made us fall in love with it in the first place. The plot is contrived and unoriginal, the pacing is poor, and it’s utterly opaque for an audience that might not be fans, but it can’t be properly appreciated unless it is acknowledged that this film is for the fans. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be DBZ. In that, I say, good job, Akira Toriyama. A generation of nerds wishing upon a dragon looks forward to showing their kids more of your work. It’s my wish that these new movies create a whole new generation of Dragonball fans.
About Our Rating System:
The Loresworn Order reviews games, movies, TV, books, and music on a four-point scale.
- No Medal, “Not Recommended”
- Bronze, “Okay”
- Silver, “Good!”
- Gold, “Great!”