Editor’s Note:This review contains spoilers for the film and the series in general.
Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F is an important chapter in the Dragon Ball saga despite its no consequence approach to the overall story. When all is set and done, Resurrection F doesn’t leave us with any big character or plot development that leads into Dragon Ball Super, the brand new anime that just premiered in Japan. Instead, the film revisits old storylines (satisfyingly) in a largely standalone manner. Still, this movie is so incredibly worth the watch.
The most lasting effect this film has for the overall saga and Dragon Ball Super is the big screen introduction of Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, a character series creator Akira Toriyama introduced in 2013 in a Dragon Ball spinoff manga and who is set to appear in the new anime series. Jaco might be my favorite part of this film, even though he’s pretty much on the sidelines for much of the movie. He’s hilarious, smooth in a fight, and willing to let galactic crime go unpunished to make himself look good. The only weakpoint of this character’s introduction is that his backstory is largely glossed over (until this film, he’d only appeared in the aforementioned manga), and we’re just supposed to assume Bulma and Jaco know each other from the past. Still, if you can let his introduction go, he’s a really fun supporting character.
In fact, the supporting characters and the lead-up battle to the rematch between Frieza and Goku are way more interesting than the final confrontation. The film is quite funny, despite the serious and epic tone of its marketing. Dragon Ball: Resurrection F is extremely light-hearted. Toriyama’s writing in the film is exemplary of the franchise’s quick wit and slapstick. You could almost call this movie a romp, if it weren’t for Frieza being the centerfold. Sometimes, I asked myself why the villain had to be in the film at all. Everything on the periphary is a lot more interesting and fun, but I guess then it wouldn’t quite be a Dragon Ball movie.
Frieza’s big plot is obviously to finally defeat Goku and destroy the Earth. His subordinates, Tagoma and Sorbet, resurrect him by gathering the Dragon Balls and summoning Shenron. It’s a pretty standard way to bring the dead back to life, so it’s easy enough to accept, even if it seems that the Frieza Force took its sweet time to execute it. But I guess finding Dragon Balls can be hard when you’re not Emperor Pilaf or Bulma, who are both in this movie and wonderful.
Although some fans will undoubtedly be underwhelmed by the lack of serious impact in this movie (there’s a BIG fake out in the last act that will piss all of you guys off), I think it’s a perfect follow-up to 2013’s Battle of Gods, which seriously rocked the boat and changed the face of the Dragon Ball universe by introducing Beerus, the God of Destruction. Beerus and his attendant, Whis, who is a martial arts master, are in Resurrection F quite a bit, but don’t play a significant role until the third act. The duo is part of the gags, though, with their interest in Earth’s cuisine — the main reason they won’t blow up the planet. Anyone waiting for some kind of badass fight between Frieza and Beerus will be very disappointed.
Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F has quite the cast, with most of the Earth’s mightiest heroes arriving to face off with Frieza and his evil army. There are some characters absent, but I don’t think they’re really too missed. The early portions of the film are all about getting the band back together. Several characters, notably Krillin and Goku, are living new lives and get a bit of a makeover in the early scenes. Although the “boys are back in town” vibe is fun, it does go on for a little too long. But the wait is totally worth it.
By far, the best sequence in the film involves Jaco, Gohan, Krillin, Piccolo, Master Roshi, and Tien demolishing Frieza’s thousand-man army with their fists. It’s so much fun to watch these characters zip through the sky once again, flying over water, into mountains, and even a claustrophobic forest that reminded me of Return of the Jedi. There’s definitely a nod to Endor in the Krillin portion of the fight. You can’t miss it. In general, this fight is great.
It’s when we get to the final showdown between Goku and Frieza that things slow down a bit. The fight is…well, a pretty standard Dragon Ball Z fight. Frieza and Goku talk trash, trade punches, transform into their underwhelming new forms (seriously, they’re not that impressive when finally displayed), talk some more trash, eat plenty of Senzu beans, and then fight again. It gets kind of boring, especially since it’s pretty much the entire third act. Goku doesn’t play a major role in the film until the last thirty minutes, which are the movie’s weakest.
There are some interesting moments between Goku and Vegeta, but they’re mostly a retread of their old rivalry. Both characters are pretty much in the same place they started by the end of the movie. In fact, you could completely scratch out the entire film and nothing would be any different. Like I said, not much happens in Resurrection F in terms of plot that you can’t miss. Except if you want to kind of know who the hell Jaco the Galactic Patrolman is.
That said, I loved this movie so much: for its light tone, its relentless joking, snappy writing, colorful characters, and that epic battle royale in which Earth beats evil aliens once again. If you enter Resurrection F just wanting to have a bit of fun, this is absolutely the movie for you. I might even call it one of Dragon Ball‘s best.