Back in 2013, Dragon Ball Z made a comeback in its first theatrical anime release in 17 years, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods.
Original creator Akira Toriyama has been heavily involved in production alongside Director Masahiro Hosada, making it a highly anticipated event for avid DBZ fans. Premiering in Australia as part of the 17th annual Japan Film Festival, audiences can look forward to a special opening message from voice actor Masakazu Morita, who plays Whis.
God of destruction Bills, has woken from a 39 year snooze, claiming to have had dreams of a ‘Super Saiyan God’ with powers to match his own. To satisfy his boredom and curiosity, he and his attendant Whis travel to Earth in search of this deity. Bills crashes Prince Vegeta’s wife Bulma’s birthday party and challenges Goku and the other Saiyans; threatening to destroy the planet if they cannot come up with a decent rival for him to battle.
There are a lot of pluses to this film; the animation of battle scenes is a jaw dropping highlight and proves why the franchise is so popular. Hosada knows what fans come for, pandering to audiences by creating massively explosive, fast flowing action, skilfully depicting the scale of damage that these huge face offs between gods cause. Settings of different places like King Kai’s planet where Goku trains and Bills’ lair artfully set in a tree are beautifully drawn and pop with vibrant colours, further emphasising the surreal quirkiness of the DBZ world.
The dialogue is studded with ridiculous humour that crosses the cultural gap easily and had viewers chuckling along. There were some pretty wacky scenes such as Trunks’ and Goten’s fusion moment (which was incredibly adorable), Bills’ tantrum over Oolong eating all the pudding and Prince Vegeta’s scary attempt at singing and dancing, that proved hilarious and completely bewildering at the same time.
Unfortunately the film’s undoing is its plot, which is quite flimsy, verging into the realm of non-sensical (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), that has unexplained detracting bits like Emperor Pilaf and his gang’s presence thrown in. These combined with a disjointed pace that turns from a slow plod, to neck breaking overdrive by the middle of the movie, leave the story feeling incomplete. The existence and conjuring of a ‘Super Saiyan God’ is hurriedly glazed over and sadly the metamorphosis into this deity lacked thrill and wow factor.
However, the entrancing battles, wild humour and colourful characters more than make up for the need of a substantial plot. Although there’s no backstory to the film, it’s an entertaining introduction for those unfamiliar with Dragon Ball and a definite must see for dedicated fans.
Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Running Time: 85 minutes (w/English Subtitles)
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods was originally reviewed as part of the 17th annual Japanese Film Festival.