Of all the villains in Dragon Ball’s 30 year history there were none I loved to hate as much as Frieza. Now, years after destroying Namek, being defeated by Goku, surviving only to be chopped to bits by a time-travelling Trunks, DBZ’s baddest of the bad has been resurrected from eternal torment in Earth’s Hell.
[Spoilers for Resurrection F follow – ye be warned!]
Taking place sometime after the previous Battle of Gods movie, Resurrection F introduces us to the remnants of the Frieza Force, now led by stumpy alien Sorbet who plans to resurrect their fallen leader with the help of earth’s Dragon Balls after learning there is someone on Earth other than Bulma who possesses the capability to track them down – And that someone is a favorite of mine from the original Dragon Ball series, poor old Pilaf who along with Shu and Mai almost never seems to catch a break. With the balls gathered and one of Shenlong’s two wishes used to resurrect Frieza, albeit in gross wibbly chunks (he was chopped up remember), the Frieza Force set about reforming their leader. The regenerated Frieza is, not surprisingly, pissed to have tasted defeat at the hands of not one but TWO Super Saiyans, and sets about plotting his revenge – He was born with a natural ability and was able to wreak havoc across the universe without having trained a day in his life, so now it’s time for months of training to unleash more of his latent power. Sadly though we do not get a rockin’ training montage. Opportunity missed.
A new character to the anime who previously appeared in a side-story manga, Jaco the Galactic Patrolman arrives on Earth to warn his old friend Bulma about the impending arrival of Frieza and his plan to take out the two Saiyans who humiliated him. Bulma lets him know that one of those Saiyans was her son from the future and she is told that the manipulation of time is a very serious crime! I’m pretty well versed in the Dragon Ball world but I had no idea who Jaco was – even a single line of dialogue explaining how Bulma and her father knew Jaco would’ve been nice. With the news that Frieza is heading their way, Bulma reaches out to Whis but for now goes unnoticed, tempting him with a strawberry sundae in order to get hold of Goku and Vegeta, who are off training with him on the home planet of God of Destruction, Beerus. Whis uses this training as an opportunity to let the two know in no uncertain terms their major weaknesses, including their inability to effectively work together, and also lets slip that he has the ability to rewind time for a do-over and has done so on a couple of occasions when Beerus has messed up and destroyed something he shouldn’t have. Again with the time stuff. Why oh why could we possibly need to know all this?
The second act is the standard ‘Waiting for Goku’ phase of the story which forms part of just about every DBZ arc. Bulma gathers some familiar faces – Gohan, Piccolo, Krillin, Muten Roshi and Tenshinhan and along with Jaco they head out to face the Frieza Force head on (the increasingly useless Yamcha along with the brash Trunks and Goten are left out of this fight). The group confront Frieza to stall while we wait for Goku and Vegeta, and what follows is a pretty damn epic fight between the horde of generic goons and our handful of fighters, as the various characters stick it to the henchman for a solid ten minutes through all types of terrain using all types of attacks. Gohan and Piccolo lead the charge, but everyone does their bit. Tenshinhan and Krillin give it their all, Roshi gets massive and kicks some ass in a way we’ve not seen for a long time and even Jaco gets in on the action and delivers some ass-whooping, despite being relatively underpowered compared to the rest of the bunch. The extended fight scene does have a slightly jarring mix of 2D and 3D cel-shaded animation, but for the most part it moves so fast and is animated so smoothly that it’s hard not to just get caught up in the action and ignore the slightly out of place 3D – This holds true for the final battle, too.
With the goonsquad defeated, Frieza’s patience wears thin – He wants Goku and he wants him now, and makes short work of Gohan to prove the point. Whis finally checks in with his magical staff/apparent video-phone and notices Bulma tempted him to Earth with the sundae in an effort to bring Goku and Vegeta home. Goku uses his instant transmission to zip to Earth while holding hands with a very unwilling Vegeta, and the grand battle between old foes begins. Both agreeing to hold nothing back, Frieza reveals the fruits of his training – an incredibly powerful new final form, Golden Frieza. Goku reveals a one-up on the form he achieved in Battle of Gods, the blue-haired, ridiculously named Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan. Yes, that’s really the name. No, I don’t know what they were thinking.
What follows is a straight-up classic Dragon Ball fight as the two absurdly powerful beings trade blasts and blows and barbs, destroying the scenery while they try to destroy each other. I won’t go to much into the final battle, but Vegeta eventually steps in to take on Frieza. And Whis is there. Remember Whis? With the power to control time? He’s there watching. Because reasons.
Resurrection F is a solid Dragon Ball story from start to finish, even if some of the story elements are a bit cheap and the supporting cast are only there to fill out the middle act then watch from the sidelines. The presence of Beerus and Whis on Earth is set up solely to facilitate the victory condition for Goku, but their characters are great and their dialogue entertaining enough that it doesn’t feel as out of place, so the addition of those two along with Jaco to the supporting cast I thoroughly enjoyed. Bringing Frieza back as the main villain meant we didn’t have to deal with much backstory or establishment like we would for a new villain, and we could get straight into a faster story and all the action. DBZ movie villains have historically been throwaways who don’t feel like much of a real threat, but Frieza has a a history with these guys. There’s a score to settle and with his new form he has the power to back it up, even if the Saiyans do outclass him in fairly short order. If you have even a passing interest in Dragon Ball you know who Frieza is and that he’s probably the villain who had the most impact on Goku throughout the whole series, so you instantly know how high-stakes this all is for both of them. It definitely pays to have seen Battle of Gods going into this, but even if you haven’t I imagine it would still be easy enough to sit down and enjoy this movie for what it is. While the new TV series Dragon Ball Super may be a slow, dull ride so far, Resurrection F delivers classic Dragon Ball action and humour at a breakneck pace, checking all the right boxes along the way and will undoubtedly please any Dragon Ball fan.
Dragonball Z: Resurrection F is currently screening in Australia thanks to Madman Entertainment with a couple of days left on its run at the time of writing – Check the official Dragonballz.com.au site to see if it’s playing near you. Oh, and make sure you stick around until the very end of the credits.