Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’, 2015.
Directed by Masahiro Hosoda.
Featuring the voice talents of Sean Schemmel, Christopher R. Sabat and Chris Ayres.
The heroes of the Dragon Ball Z universe are faced with the revival of their most dangerous adversary in a showdown to decide the fate of earth once more.
The first season of Dragon Ball Z is such a divisive thing. It starts with the coming of Radditz, the long-lost brother of the hero we know as Goku, coming to earth and informing him of his alien roots. After a brutal battle, Goku is killed and sent into the afterlife. Of course, the setup for this franchise one that establishes a very non-permanent penalty for…you know…dying. Goku then spends what seems like 100,000 episodes running down Snake Way, an endless road magically floating above Hell (don’t even argue, we all know it was Hell) in order to reach King Kai and to train himself to face the incoming threat of two far more powerful Saiyans. 100,000 episodes of him running, two of him training, three more of him running back, and it all leads to a spine-chilling moment when Goku finally returns, laying waste to Nappa, the first of the Saiyans, with ease and caring more for his injured friends than about the looming battle with Vegeta, the other Saiyan, that he was about to have.
The point is, that entire season is just a build. There’s very little actual action after Goku’s encounter with his older brother. Instead it’s mostly training montages, filler, and endless running. Then, in one moment of heavy-handed Messiah imagery, Goku rises from the dead and the last few episodes bring the action in droves, completely cementing this series as the definitive anime in Western culture and forever turning both Kakarot and Vegeta into legends among the anime elite. The true miracle, well beyond the seemingly impossible victory claimed by Goku and his own return from death, was that all of that filler and running was completely, 150% forgiven in those last few moments when Goku sidestepped the apparently unstoppable Nappa and swatted him like a fly. Not to beat him to a pulp, but instead to help his son and his friends with a calm, father-like demeanor. That was the moment that every single one of us said, “This show…oh my God…this show.” Those of you who witnessed it are reading this and the hair on your arms is standing straight up. That is how good the good moments of Dragon Ball Z are.
Here we are, in 2015, and what was Goku’s ultimate rival, Frieza, is set to return. The Frieza Saga, of course, established a tyrant ruler that ruled worlds (79 of them, I recently learned) with an iron fist and effortlessly crushed any that ever dared to oppose him. This, of course, resulted in the entire third season basically being the ultimate meeting of the Unstoppable Force and the Immovable Object as the tenacious Goku fought the rotten-to-the-core villain so hard that the entire planet on which they fought was, inevitably, completely destroyed by their limitless power. Frieza was (no pun intended) a cold and ruthless villain with absolutely no concern for any life beyond his own, which made him a tactically dangerous foe, even when he was outmatched.
That’s what will strike you hardest when you watch Resurrection ‘F’. Frieza is still Frieza. So many other shows and movies will change a character to suit the plot, making them do things against their own motives in order to serve the direction of the story. But, not Frieza. At one point he was asked to wait for Goku to arrive and, for one moment, you believe he will, but he makes a witty joke about it and spits it right back in your face in order to remind you that he’s not like Cell. He’s not going to grow a heart suddenly and give the heroes a moment to regroup. He’s an absolutely despicable villain who you want so badly to be pummeled into dust that it’s painful when he’s not, especially when Goku has shown him such mercy in the past. Though Goku and Batman are very, very different, what makes The Joker so perfect for Batman is that he’s his antithesis. He’s the exact thing that Batman’s character cannot simply rid himself of, and, in more ways than you can ever bother to count, Frieza is exactly that to Goku. In a universe like the DBZ universe, the potential return of Frieza again and again as the new series progresses and new films are made is not only possible, but it’s also feasible that it will get increasingly better somehow.
That’s one of the things that makes Resurrection ‘F’ work. Each character has his or her motives and they never waver from those. Sure, each will have a moment where they grow or change, but, in the end, everything that they do is to further push themselves toward their end goal. This is more present here with Vegeta, as I believe the writers have realized that he’s a fan-favorite, and his pure drive to surpass Goku is his one single-minded motivation that makes him an unbelievably compelling character. His rivalry with Goku is truly the heart of the movie, and from what little I’ve seen, also the new television show that they are currently working on. This film will absolutely do service to Vegeta if you’re one of his fans, though a certain moment feels very much like it robbed him of a very large character-development. Vegeta has a history with Frieza that’s actually far fuller of animosity than any other character, so there’s a slight sour taste that comes with this specific moment. However, with the new show I have to believe there is a payoff for his character down the road.
The newcomers, Beerus and Whis, who are both introduced in the previous film, are perhaps my favorite aspect of this movie. Beerus, in particular, I find incredibly charming. In the DBZ canon, no one is really ever more powerful than Goku for long. So here we are with this new series and not one, but TWO characters are superior to him. In fact, Golden Frieza, who is on-par with the fully empowered Super Saiyan God Goku, literally trembles in the presence of Beerus, who, himself, isn’t even in the same league as Whis. The “Superman can’t beat Goku” argument is quite timeless, but having a character like Whis or Beerus in this universe reminds us that both Goku and Vegeta are not immortal or limitless in their power. That’s what makes them enduring. The apathetic nature of both of them is a bit of an ace-in-the-sleeve for the plots that will develop going forward. Plus the fact that Goku finally has someone to learn from that he simply cannot match in power means that he may pick up some valuable lessons as this new series progresses. Despite his destructive nature, Beerus is a welcome addition to an already colorful cast of characters.
On that note, Resurrection ‘F’ has both a massive strength and a glaring weakness. At a certain point the Saiyans became so unfathomably powerful that the other characters, like Tien and Krillen, had to sort of take a back seat when the villains they faced were just so superior to them that fighting was mostly a suicide mission. In this movie many of them finally get to come back to defend their homes. Fans of the series will especially love Krillin’s return, as well as Gohan, who, despite not training in recent years, proves that he could be the force to be reckoned with that we had always hoped he would grow into. Yet, there are some glaring emissions. I fully understand that not every single character can make it into
a 90 minute movie, but a few of the classics could have at least has a cameo. Amongst them, the most noticeable would have to be Majiin Buu, who is actually mentioned by name as someone who could help fend off Frieza’s forces while awaiting Goku’s return. Oddly, he’s nowhere to be found. This is especially tragic because Frieza himself references that Buu and Beerus are the two creatures in the galaxy that he fears. There was a moment there that truly could have been special. The character arches that flicker to life here don’t ever come to a conclusion, but, once again, the DBZ films are normally a one-off that simply add to the mythology of the universe without altering it in any way that shows up on the television show the week after it happens. I don’t get to say whether that’s a good or bad thing, but just that it’s a thing and perhaps something they could change with this new series.
My actual biggest gripe comes from Akira Toriyama leveling his most powerful characters up to such an extent that they’ve become more than they, themselves, can handle. Back when Frieza was still on-par with Super Saiyan Goku, their battle literally destroyed a planet. The battle with Vegeta before that laid waste to the earth. The battle with Buu destroyed multiple planets. In fact, Goku actually says at one point that he has to be careful with his power or else he could accidentally destroy a planet. Yet, here, the destruction is still the same as in those earlier days, despite the fact that Goku is a literal God at this point. I mean, shouldn’t one of these characters flicking another put them through the core of the planet? Shouldn’t a Kamehameha completely obliterate everything in existence? It’s very minor and you can suspend disbelief, but it’s something that they’ve accidentally done by writing themselves into a corner with such immensely powerful characters.
In the end, there are some little areas that may bother you if you’re a fan. Vegeta’s character being robbed of something potentially great, the strange MIA status of Buu, and some of the strange little things such as why Shenron can’t put Frieza’s body back together, but he managed to put Krillin’s back together once after he ACTUALLY EXPLODED is just irksome. But once the fighting starts and you’re treated to some of the beautiful new animation techniques you quickly do as you did in season 1 and forgive the minor issues and just enjoy the chaotic ride that you’re given.
It’s only fair to give this film two separate scores. A score for returning fans of the series, and one for those who are new and looking to get into it. For those of you who have been following Goku’s journey for years or even binged on his endeavors for the past few months leading to this film, you’re going to love it. It’s weird. It’s kooky. It’s got most of the characters you love and a couple new ones to love just as much. It’s got its share of minor issues, but none of us can deny that the show had those as well, but we overlooked them the moment we were treated to a huge, iconic moment. As for those who are new to the series, Resurrection ‘F’ would be a terrible jumping-on point. As sad as it may make you if you don’t want to spend countless hours watching Dragon Ball Z, if you didn’t then this is just going to be a very foreign and strange experience for you. You won’t understand why Goku can tolerate Vegeta, or comprehend the very strange relationship between Frieza and both of the Saiyans. You won’t know how the Hell Trunks, who’s a baby here, killed Frieza once before he was even born. You won’t know why things matter when they do. So to you, I say that you have catching up to do before you jump on this bandwagon.
Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ is a flawed, but very solid addition to the Dragon Ball universe. It’s full of awesome moments, especially for the fan-favorite characters, and you are left wanting more. Considering the new series, this is exactly what they had hoped for, so, in that respect, it’s a huge success.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★