After the esoteric Battle of the Gods, which felt more like the “in-between” episodes of Dragon Ball Z than the biggest battle in the series’ history, some fans may be a bit wary about the next film, Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F. The film, featuring the return of Frieza and the direct narrative continuation to Gods, has performed well internationally, and has a limited U.S. theatrical release next week. It also happens to be truly awesome. If Gods was the setup flick, then Resurrection F is 85 minutes of pure payoff.
The movie takes place around a year after Gods, as the Dragon Balls have been gathered once more by the child-versions of Pilaf, Mai, and Shu. The remaining Frieza Force hijacks their wish, however, bringing Frieza back to life. There’s a problem, though, as he was chopped into tiny pieces by the teenage time traveling Trunks (what a mouthful). After his lieutenants stitch him back together with their tech, Frieza decides he needs to do something he’s never attempted before: train. Six months after his resurrection, Frieza is ready to take on Goku, the purple-haired Saiyan (remember, he doesn't actually know who Trunks is), and anyone else who gets in the way of his revenge.
From that small amount of setup (just a few minutes, really), the film essentially becomes all-action all the time. Goku and Vegeta, fresh from training with Whis, Lord Beeru’s martial arts master but life servant, are more powerful than ever. Unfortunately, they’re also halfway across the universe when the Frieza Force – with a thousand members – arrives on Earth.
And this is where this movie gets awesome. With Vegeta and Goku gone, it’s time for the rest of the Earth defense force to shine. There are awesome moments for (a head-shaved) Krillin, Tien, and even Master Roshi, who powers up in a big way. As a big Piccolo fan from way back, watching him do his classic “take off the training weights” move before defeating about 20 enemies at once was awesome. And Gohan zips through without compromising his personal ethics – it’s all the O.G. team members doing what they do best.
Of course, when Frieza himself enters the fray, things don’t go so well. He’s more powerful than anyone the group has ever faced (Yeah, Beerus is way stronger still, but you can’t call anything they did with him a fight, can you?). Goku and Vegeta arrive in the nick of time, and the real fight begins.
The great thing about these films, is they take what would’ve been literally anywhere from 5-20 episodes of the TV show and present it in about an hour and a half. Like Kai before it, this film is definitely “all killer no filler.” But that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of substance. We get the first peripheral look at Gohan and Videl’s child, an incredible and major character moment for Vegeta (well, two, kind of), and even some real insight into Goku and his largest character flaw. None of the dialogue is wasted, and some of the jokes even have a bit of meaning to them. And if Beerus and Whis weren’t fan-favorites after Gods, they will certainly be after Resurrection F. The comic relief from the pair is a great contrast to the crazy fighting going on over their shoulders.
And about those fight sequences: Some have clearly been taken with influence from the technology of recent Dragon Ball video games. There’s more 3D action, with advanced modeling and CG backgrounds to offer some new looks to the fights. It’s sparse usage works perfectly, as there’s just enough for you to think “Woah, neat” without ruining the aesthetics of the original series fights.
Dragon Ball: Resurrection F is the coda to DBZ that fans have been waiting for. With action, humor, and moments for nearly every character to make fans of all stripes happy, the movie fits about a season of the show into one concise package. I can’t wait to watch it on the big screen, with its premium production value and wow-factor fight scenes, but I likewise see this as a repeat view at home for years to come. It’s the best, most complete DBZ film to date, and will definitely tide fans over until Dragon Ball Super comes (officially) to the States.
Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F is in theaters across North America from August 4 - 12, 2015. A home release will follow, but US release has not yet been revealed.