What They Say:
One peaceful day on Earth, two remnants of Frieza’s army named Sorbet and Tagoma arrive searching for the Dragon Balls with the aim of reviving Frieza. They succeed, and Frieza subsequently seeks revenge on the Saiyans.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the success of the Battle of Gods movie last year, it was no surprise that Toei would try to see what else they could do with the Dragon Ball Z franchise. With a new TV series that kicked off this summer, it was preceded by this feature, Resurrection ‘F”, which continued the events of Battle of Gods. Having become a fan of the franchise overall more so from the manga than the anime, at least in regards to the TV series, getting new adventures in this world is something that I definitely am glad to see since it’s such fertile ground. While Battle of Gods is something that served to reintroduce everything and see if there’s actual interest in the characters and works, this one has the advantage of trying to move things forward.
The focus of the film is one that does take us back to familiar ideas as we get the remnants of Freeza’s forces, lead by Sorbet, looking to revive their fallen master. Freeza’s forces were definitely terrors and scourges of the universe, but without him it’s easy to imagine that they’d lose some of their influence, though not all of it. To Sorbet’s addvantage, he uses Pilaf in order to work a small approach to Earth since there are plenty of beings there that don’t need scouters to register power levels and he’s intent on not being noticed. So slipping in with a comrade is easy enough and that lets them work in the background for a bit, ensuring that Pilaf and his crew know that they’re not to be trifled with. The prologue sets things up well enough with the easy gathering of the Dragon Balls thankfully being done off screen so that Sorbet can bring back Freeza.
Amusingly, because Trunks sliced Freeza in a big way when he killed him years ago, Shenlong advises against it because the body cannot be reconstructed easily by him. Sorbet’s technology should be able to handle it though and that means his soul is brought back in pieces to be dealt with. It moves quickly enough and while Sorbet comes across as a grump in a lot of ways, he manages to achieve a lot very quickly and very easily compared to what we’ve seen before in this franchise. Freeza’s resurrection is also something that goes easily enough, which isn’t a surprise considering what we’ve seen of the character in the series before and his ability to heal and regenerate. It’s an amusing reunion that gets underway since Freeza’s not exactly thrilled it took so long for Sorbet to bring him back. With the way Freeza runs his organization, it’s no surprise that his superior attitude is what drives him. That and revenge against the Super Saiyans for what they did.
News of Freeza’s revival does travel quickly as Jaco the Galactic Patrolman has arrived to tell Goku about it. Jaco’s amusing as he can’t believe the things Bulma tells him about what Goku is up to and who with as Whis is pretty much a myth to a lot of people. Just using Jaco alone is a delight since he’s such a fun little character. This sets into motion everyone on Earth learning about Freeza’s impending arrival in about an hour and that has the usual quick catching up with a few of the characters. Some parts are more interesting than others and we also get some of the usual casual sexism that exists as Krillin has his wife stay and watch their daughter even though she’s far stronger and more capable than he is. It’s good to see Krillin back and going old school here with his hair and outfit, but his protective nature comes across poorly.
It takes until thirty minutes into the film before Goku and Vegeta make their appearance where they’re off training with Whis for the moment. Whis is providing some decent education and training for the two of them on what they need to focus on, which of course are things that we’ve known since the introduction of each character basically. There’s some fun with Beerus himself when he shows up and cuts to the chase, but you have to appreciate that he’s keen on trying pizza and putting a proper threat behind it. The film plays to this kind of slow build fairly well when you get down to it, partially because even after the Battle of Gods film it’s simply good to reconnect with the cast on the big screen. So doing this standalone moments here and there while waiting for Freeza’s arrival sets the tone right. It may not be wall to wall action, but that’s a bad expectation to have with this franchise in general and the cautious use of budget with time and effort involved.
Naturally, Freeza’s not the type to wait long to deal with Goku and that means the action picks up well before he and Vegeta return to Earth. Though this is all about the supporting cast getting their time in the sun, it works pretty well to let them shine with fights against the rank and file of Freeza’s soldiers as they each have about two hundred to deal with. It’s not a series of revelatory moments, but they each spread out and get to do their best to take down as many as they can and it helps to pad things out in a good and expected way, especially since it is partially about getting to know these characters again. Piccolo in particular is a whole lot of fun to watch as he gets into the fight by getting ready of his weighty clothes and really going at it. But really, it’s just fun to see Roshi fighting again all bulked out and to see some of Jaco’s style as well.
All of it comes down to the third act though, which is why we’ve come to this movie to begin with. Bringing Goku and Vegeta back to Earth to fight Freeza was a given, but it has the twist here. Freeza never trained in his life before and was incredibly power. Now that he’s spent a few months training, he’s hugely powerful now and has seemingly surpassed what Goku and Vegeta have done on their own in the years since. It makes things complicated in general, but of course there have to be a couple of sidebar fights as well. Notably with Goku and Vegeta as the two of them can’t not fight to some extent and that’s just silly fun, at least until Goku goes to his top level of power in order to finally go against Freeza. Thankfully, the “god” level that Goku can achieve doesn’t get a lot of explanation since it’s all part of the larger narrative, but it’s something that forces Freeza to show how much he’s grown and changed as well, making for a really great transformation sequence.
In the end, what we get is what we had hoped for with the film in that it’s a pretty fun fighting show. The final act of it attempts to capture some of the magic of the original Freeza and Goku fight but it’s limited by time in really doing so. But with Freeza having “gone gold” along the way, and not quite as confident at first as he usually is, it does shake things up a bit and makes for a really good series of back and forth moments between them as they slug it out. Mixing Beerus and Whis into a bit provides for some levity amid it, but also some admiration as he gets to see what these two are capable of. And with the nod earlier about his and Majin Buu’s position in the world, it’s definitely something that puts Freeza in a very different frame of mind upon seeing him there. Particularly since he’s just enjoying the ice cream that Bulma made for him. It’s these little moments that colors things in a fun way, especially with Jaco being a part of this universe now.
As much as I enjoy the Dragon Ball Z franchise, I also don’t have high expectations of it when it comes to story. Battle of the Gods reinforced that as we had some decent fight scenes but it was more focused in reintroducing everyone and just having fun being together again. Here, it flips it a bit by having more action to it, especially in the second half, but it retains enough of the humor and hanging out pieces that will delight fans, from Piccolo watching the baby to Jaco trying to get his picture taken with Beerus. Freeza’s a character that I think worked incredibly well in the original series but is one that I wish hadn’t been brought back because it lessens that impact some. That said, he makes for a good character in this revived form here to go up against Goku, having built himself into something more, and while you know how it will end, you enjoy the journey overall.
Dragon Ball Z Resurrection F opens in theaters on August 4th, 2015.