Dragon Ball Super – The Movie: Broly is the 20th theatrical entry for the seemingly unstoppable Dragon Ball series whose box office appearance garnered critical and commercial acclaim. Given the series’ somewhat checkered performance on film, let’s see how this latest entry compares to its predecessors.
Dragon Ball Super – The Movie: Broly focuses on the cult Saiyan warrior Broly. As a character, Broly first appeared in a trio of movies as part of the theatrical specials Toei put together for Dragon Ball Z in the 90s (which we reviewed a while back). While those movies famously gave the cult character an interesting premise, it ultimately didn’t add much weight to the overall Dragon Ball narrative.
In light of this, Dragon Ball Super – The Movie: Broly applies a soft reset of sorts for his character. The movie takes the core aspects of Broly from the Dagon Ball Z era insofar that Broly is cast aside by King Vegeta and is raised by his father. His father in turn uses technology to exert control over his son’s powers. There’s also the bit about Broly being exceptionally powerful with the potential to become a danger to the universe if left unchecked. Broly also finds his way to Earth, which means Goku needs to get into all sorts of hyperbolic biffo.
Breaking it down, there’s really three parts to the movie – we have the extended opening based on Planet Vegeta around Broly’s birth. Then the aftermath of Broly growing up on the remote planet Vampa and getting recruited by Frieza. The final chunk of the movie is all about having power levels above one billion or whatever and explosions.
In essence, there’s a worryingly banal structure if viewed as such. It also had the potential of falling into the somewhat repetitive nature of the first few runs of adapting Dragon Ball Z into a theatrical format.
In practice though, Dragon Ball Super – The Movie: Broly does a stellar job of taking some pretty predictable structures and doing some amazing stuff with it. The movie kicks off by spending a good amount of time exploring the environment on Planet Vegeta, including an origin story of how Frieza came into power over the warrior race of Saiyans and the steps that lead to the fate of planet as well.
What we get is a bit more of a nuanced approach to Broly that adds some welcomed depth to his character. It transforms him into a reluctant villain whose unstable nature is a result of being psychologically and physically abused for years by authority figures, especially his father. The result is a normally passive Saiyan who folds into an aggravated state when placed under psychological or physical stress despite yearning for a connection with others.
It may seem a little twee when phrased like the above, and while the same premise was somewhat the rationale for the previous movies, the way it’s handled here is much better and makes the encounter on Earth more engaging than the usual biffo.
Speaking of which – there is a tremendous amounts of biffo in Dragon Ball Super – The Movie: Broly. To Toei’s credit, it’s also done extremely well despite the voluminous amount of extra CG work to help the backgrounds keep up with the fighting choreography. There’s some terrific nods of the head to previous Dragon Ball Z movies and it’s not too steeped in Dragon Ball Super’s lore to keep away fans who may have dropped off after Dragon Ball Z. Mind, the more clued up you are on all things Dragon Ball the more you’ll get out of it. There’s plenty in here for the dedicated fans of this legendary series.
Beyond the film this release is otherwise bare – on the upside, it’s bilingual and the encoding is fantastic despite how much of a hammering the actions sequences present. Some trailers or other supplementary gear would have been nice, but it’s no deal-breaker since the movie’s solid.
Despite the overall package being a little thin, Dragon Ball Super – The Movie: Broly does a tremendous amount for this first official theatrical entry for Dragon Ball Super. The narrative is surprisingly engaging, the action sequences look great, there’s some much-needed humour in there to balance things out and the production values are solid. For Dragon Ball Z fans there’s plenty here to enjoy, and there’s even more for those up to date with Dragon Ball Super.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.