Wednesday, 6 August 2014
REVIEW - DRAGONBALL Z: BATTLE OF GODS
It's been seventeen years, but was it worth the wait?
Yes! It was! But first - confession time! I haven't seen Dragonball Z Kai - Funimation's dub of the remastered version of the classic series. I've only seen the original dub of Dragonball Z and Dragonball GT back when I was just a ten year-old.
Since I don't have Kai under my belt, there were quite a few surprises awaiting me. The animation style has radically improved since the old series. This was very welcomed. It makes the DBZ world feel more vibrant and the inclusion of unique CG in both the animation and during the fight scenes is an exceptional step-up. Not that the old stuff was bad. On the contrary, I've always been fond of how DBZ never really looked like other anime of it's time, but it's nice to see how much more can be done nowadays. But the best was probably hearing Monica Rial voice Bulma Briefs (a perfect ten choice).
Watching this felt like taking a step back in time. Set after the Majin Buu saga, but before Dragonball GT (which exists or doesn't depending on the fan), Battle of Gods gives us Lord Beerus. What makes Battle of Gods even more exciting is that unlike other DBZ movies which were 1) kinda standalone and 2) ridiculously difficult to fit into any sort of continuity, Battle of Gods gives us someone who is actually part of the ongoing plot even though nobody has ever mentioned him. We find out that Frieza destroyed Planet Vegeta on Beerus' orders and after he learns that Frieza - someone he thought of as the strongest in the universe bar himself - has been defeated, Beerus' ego goes a little paranoid and he seeks out Goku and company to make sure his title as strongest in the universe will never be threatened.
This movie shares a lot with the series. Basing the side plot on Bulma's birthday and inviting everyone feels very filler. There are fun moments and some awkward moments (Piccolo singing karaoke). If you're not used to the campness that goes hand in hand with the baddasness DBZ brings, then these moments will feel as if they're stalling the plot.
Don't fret! Things pick up and from there, as is custom for DBZ, things keep escalating. Good guys fight, lose, get back up, get knocked down again. It's like a gauntlet match with good guys dropping like flies until only one is left standing. It's classic DBZ! If you're going to argue that you were expecting more after 17 years - you are in the wrong place! This movie was made for fans! The diehards! It's ours! It's not here to introduce you to the franchise. Take a doze of DBZ or DBZ Kai and come back in the morning. Battle of Gods is a love letter to the fans of this 30 year old title.
I will admit that changing the main antagonist's name from Bills (or is that Bilis) to Beerus was a smart move. Lord Bills sounds like a crazy overlord bank manager. I am also grateful that what sets Battle of Gods apart from it's predecessors is the fact that this movie does not resolve the plot by throwing a Spirit Bomb at the villain. If you were expecting it, rest assured it will not happen. If you were hoping it would happen because you like it...I have no response to give to that but 'sorry'.
Another thing that stands out is the voice acting. I cannot think of a single voice that seemed out of place. Jason Douglas delivers quite the performance as ruthless, yet playful Beerus and hearing Chris Sabat handling both Vegeta and Piccolo is just heavenly. Cue the nostalgia!
This movie isn't perfect though. Like most DBZ films, calling Shenron the dragon is par for the course, but doing so to help find a resolution for the plot I feel is cheating. I don't care if both parties agree to it. I also don't know why Trunks and Goten and especially Marron still look the same despite this movie taking place a few years after the Buu Saga. Trunks and Goten should be close to being teens I believe.
Running 80 minutes, the story's pacing felt a little slow at times, yet the story had so much to do. Only after seeing it did I discover that the theatrical release is actually 20-25 minutes shorter so the whole thing would be like a 105 minutes long. Not sure if FUNimation is going to release the movie as is or add the other twenty-five minutes (I hope so) when it goes to DVD/Blu-Ray.