Movie Review: Dragon Ball Z

Dragon Ball Super: Broly is a phenomenon in action, humor, and suspense that reminds audiences of why we love this long-lasting sci-fi action anime franchise. This latest Dragon Ball, produced by Toei Animation (Sailor Moon, One Piece and Dragon Ball Z), is a direct sequel to the recent anime, Dragon Ball Super.

It has been a long time since a movie has made my jaw drop, and upon viewing it in the movie theater, my jaw dropped every five minutes.

The Dragon Ball is in the top 10 most-grossing media franchises of all time, and the original manga being the 2nd best-selling Japanese comic series ever made. Dragon Ball has been an influence to the world since its original publication in 1984. Just last year the titular protagonist, Son Goku, was given his own float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This new movie reignited why I loved Dragon Ball in ways that I hadn’t felt since DBZ.

With the story, screenplay and character designs crafted by original Dragon Ball creator and manga industry veteran, Akira Toriyama, as well as the return of the legendary Funimation English dub cast of Sean Schemmel (Goku) and Chris Sabat (Vegeta and Piccolo), it was shaping up to be the best Dragon Ball’s been since the 90s. This alone would have sold any Dragon Ball fan into buying a ticket, but with the return of one of the series’ most popular characters, Broly, this quickly revived the nationwide sensation that Dragon Ball Z was when it first aired.   

The movie takes place directly after the latest Dragon Ball anime that ended last year, Dragon Ball: Super, and reboots the story at the end of the Saiyan race. The reboot ended up fleshing out a lot of what had happened in the previous film, however with a more unfortunate beginning to the characters of Goku, Vegeta, and Broly. This new origin has helped the characters of Bardok and King Vegeta, the respective fathers of Goku and Vegeta, in ways I wasn’t expecting. It provided more insight into both of these fathers and how both of their most insignificant actions had an almost chain reaction, affecting the series of Dragon Ball as a whole.   

The character of Broly, himself, has been a favorite among fans since his appearance in the non-canon Dragon Ball Z films, but this movie marks his first canon appearance in the Dragon Ball timeline.

What I found so fascinating about Broly is the difference between him and the other Dragon Ball villains. Frieza was the charismatic but cruel, racist ruler of his own private army who took great pleasure in exterminating anyone who so much as annoyed him, while Cell was this imposing monster who believed the only true way to prove his own perfection was to exterminate all life in the universe.

But Broly is very different. Broly is another Saiyan (like Goku and Vegeta) who has had to survive a harsh, barren wasteland of a planet for his entire life, and when he’s taken off it, he becomes an animal of his chain for the first time. Never having the chance to use his full power or to truly express his desires or emotions properly before, he lets loose a deeply hidden whirlpool of rage, the likes of which shatter the ground under his feet. This is both incredible to watch while also making you sympathize with him in ways I wasn’t expecting.

Speaking of ground under feet, the amount of work gone into the animation left me breathless. Without spoiling anything, it’s incredible to witness the terrain change so drastically over the course of the film, symbolizing the rise in power of the fighters as they push each other to their limits. Anyone who’s familiar with Dragon Ball Z knows how most fights take place in the canyon so it was a nice change of pace seeing a fight take place in the Arctic. Not only that, but each energy blast, each punch, each block was made to feel powerful, heavy and with such force that I was more worried for whoever was on the receiving end rather than who should be winning.

If you’re coming into this expecting something like Infinity War or Black Panther, you’ll be sorely disappointed. But if you have any love for Dragon Ball, this movie will hit you with a wave of nostalgia like a Kamehameha. Dragon Ball Super: Broly is a masterpiece in animation and action that reignited everything about why I love this sci-fi action anime from Japan. You can tell that everything from its fight scenes, to its build up, to its characters and comedy was made with passion, love, and respect from everyone working on it.

Having only the smallest of nitpicks concerning its conclusion, it is still without a doubt the best Dragon Ball movie, filled with action, suspense and bits of comedy here and there. If you can, I highly recommend checking this out in theaters because there’s nothing quite like seeing a room full of people cheer and clap whenever Goku or Vegeta go Super Saiyan.

Lee RussoComment