Ranking the Dragon Ball Z Movies
Dragon Ball Super: Broly is upon us, so let’s take a minute to look back and put to task all of the other movies from the series.
You’ve got to give it to Dragon Ball Z, for a series that more or less “ended” decades ago, the last few years have revitalized the franchise beyond belief and arguably made the series more popular than ever, thanks to the magic of Dragon Ball Super. It’s clear that Dragon Ball is just a series that refuses to die and people always want to experience it in some capacity. It’s this fascination in the first place that led to the series releasing a bevy of films alongside its hundreds of episodes.
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Now in spite of these being referred to as “movies” you can’t help but feel the term is being used somewhat liberally here. These films are not very long for the most part, with the majority of them being between 45 minutes to an hour.
This is kind of ridiculous, but when you realize that the bulk of these stories are just the Z Warriors taking down a new “strongest villain,” that’s not exactly a complicated story to tell. The latest era of Dragon Ball films has worked hard to right this wrong and the three most recent endeavors are all over 80 minutes in length.
In honor of the recent release of the latest film, Dragon Ball Super: Broly, we decided to look at all of Dragon Ball Z’s movies (and specials) and rank them from the lowliest Saibamen to the mightiest Super Saiyan Blue warrior.
18. Bio-Broly (1994/2005)
Hey, Broly’s back…again…as a cyborg…yay?
Just like there are Coke fans and Pepsi fans, there two are factions that view Lord Slug as the greatest offender of DBZ films, and those that look at Bio-Broly as the culprit. Regardless of what side you’re on, you’re still going to be spitting out your drink in disbelief while watching this mess.
Okay, if you weren’t a fan of Broly – Second Coming, then the eleventh DBZ film is going to be a real endurance test for you. Not only is this a lazier film than the previous Broly effort, but it also ramps up the Goten and Trunks incorrigible silliness to a nearly unbearable degree (plus you get the added bonus of Mr. Satan thrown into the mix just ‘cause). If all of this wasn’t enough, we haven’t even been given an effective breather since the last time we encountered Broly. Bio-Broly was released less than half a year after Broly – Second Coming, and instead of this feeling like an inspired double feature a la Cooler’s Revenge/The Return of Cooler, this instead feels like scrambling to meet a deadline without a plan in place.
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The boys stumble upon a mansion that ends up being filled with bio-warriors (one of the biggest unintentional joys of the original Japanese version of this film is listening to the English word “bio-tech-no-logical” get frequently uttered), most importantly, a bio-version of Broly. This version of Broly brings even less to the table than before, other than some bio sludge that becomes a pretty crucial part of the film. Besides the barely-there plot and ludicrous decisions made, the film’s saving grace is the larger role that Android 18 occupies as Goten and Trunks’ de facto babysitter. Watching her get t do some damage on the bio-warriors provides some entertainment in a tired movie.
1.5/7 Dragon Balls
17. Broly – Second Coming (1994/2005)
Hey, Broly’s back!
And if that feels abrupt, that’s seriously about as much of a primer we’re given as we’re reintroduced to the Legendary Super Saiyan. Broly is just inexplicably alive after the events of his last movie; as if avoiding an explanation will trick us into thinking we were given an answer. The guy’s also going through severe PTSD, and that’s about it story-wise.
We also finally get the precocious Goten and Trunks into a movie, and if you thought some of these films were skewing towards the humor too much before, you might not be the biggest fan of the direction that these two adolescent Saiyans take the series (do you like seeing villains getting urinated on, for example?). This is the seedy underbelly to the DBZ films that don’t hinge upon Goku or happen to take place during his death. We’re pretty much given an Abbott and Costello style romp between the two children. More of this movie is spent on silly hijinks than fighting.
And when it comes to the fighting, due to his lack of lackeys and the fact that we’ve met this guy before, there’s nothing to really get excited for here (maybea lava-colored Broly). There’s a forced cameo where Goku is briefly brought back to life to help aid in the battle, but Broly – Second Coming is a lazy misfire that tries to coast on an idea that worked once before.
2/7 Dragon Balls
16. Lord Slug (1991/2001)
Okay, this is really the nadir of things. A lot of people consider Lord Slug to be the worst of the films, but I think it manages to have a few merits. That being said, make no mistake, this is not a good movie. To begin with, we have Lord Slug and his cronies landing on Earth wanting to terraform it as their new home. Slug acquires the Dragon Balls (natch) and wishes to regain his youth, which feels pretty shortsighted, and the newly reinvigorated villain is ready to take down Goku.
Okay, Lord Slug is a Namek (as evidenced by his ability to grow in size, but also, you know, all the green), and an evil Namek is at least a slightly fresh angle for the movie to take, but that’s really all that’s exciting here. Slug’s henchmen are barely around and make for the flattest of characters, and for the first film to have Goku go Super Saiyan (the film’s original Japanese title is even, Super Saiyan Goku), the film totally cheats the viewer. His hair doesn’t even go yellow! We’re given some sort of Kaio-Ken variation just so the movie can be withholding.
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As cruddy as Lord Slug is, it’s also become infamous for Gohan’s weird whistling number that he does with Higher Dragon (from Tree of Might, remember?) that drives Piccolo insane. It’s such a weird, shoehorned segment that starts the movie off, of all things. Naturally this whistling is the key to defeating Lord Slug (and all Nameks, apparently) in a nonsensical plot decision that’s better left not discussed.
2/7 Dragon Balls
15. The Tree of Might (1990/1998)
Look, a treeas the ultimate threat is never going to be a home-run villain (even on Sailor Moon, it didn’t hold up…) and so unsurprisingly, The Tree of Might is one of the more underwhelming DBZ movies. Also, the most discouraging thing about this movie is that it seems like it’s about an evil Goku when it’s not at all about an evil Goku. In a veryconfusing move, our villain du jour, Turles, looks nearly identical to Goku to the point that you’re waiting for the reveal of how he’s related to our favorite Saiyan. But nothing happens. He just looks like him for no real reason other than someone probably thinking it was cool and the fights would be easier to animate.
As per usual, we’re treated to some henchmen fights, and then Goku facing off against the head bad guy. The fights here are very average with nothing we haven’t seen before. What is an interesting twist though is exploring the idea of Goku’s spirit bomb being useless if there’s no energy left on the planet for it to draw from.
There’s also a weird subplot with Gohan saving a purple dragon in a forest fire that reminds you–oh yeah, there’s weird stuff like dragons and dinosaurs in this world…There’s a weirdly pro-environment message being pushed forward in this movie, but I guess that’s natural for a film where your heroes are killing evil wildlife.
3/7 Dragon Balls
14. The World’s Strongest (1990/1998)
Some creep named Dr. Kochin gathers the Dragon Balls (this is kind of a running theme through the movies) and uses his wish to release Dr. Wheelo and his lab from being frozen in ice, like they have been for fifty years. This half-decade in ice has left Wheelo as just a brain in a machine. Naturally, he’s left wanting to find the world’s strongest warrior and take their body. That in itself is actually a pretty original plot as far as Dragon Ball Z movies go, so it has that in its favor, but once again, the outcome is really just a bunch of fancy fights going on with Goku, Piccolo, Krillin, Gohan, and Master Roshi (due to Wheelo’s intel being fifty years out of date). The end is also inevitably a little underwhelming when the extent of everyone’s powers at this point is simply Goku performing a Spirit Bomb and a team-effort Kamehameha.
That being said, the film looks gorgeous, and I’m a real sucker for robot-centric stories and this one riffs on so much classic sci-fi in the best way possible. Plus, getting to see Master Roshi competing on everyone’s levels and getting in the action is pretty great as well, despite the film’s limitations.
3/7 Dragon Balls
13. The Dead Zone (1989/1997)
With this being the first Dragon Ball Z film, we’re accordingly treated to a pretty sparse cast and dealing with near infant aged Gohan. Seriously, the beginning of this film is focused on Chi Chi trying to enforce Gohan’s beyond rigorous study habits and it’s almost funny to look at things when they were so simpler in this series. Basically, Gohan gets kidnapped (due to that Dragon Ball on that stupid hat of his) by Garlic Jr., a demon that looks like he could be Pilaf’s cousin. Goku is understandably pretty miffed when he sees his family beaten up and that his son is missing, so he and the Z Warriors (which at this point is just Piccolo, Krillin, and surprisingly Kami) storm Garlic Jr.’s castle and the film feels pretty much like any other with various fights going on.
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Probably the biggest takeaway here is that Garlic Jr. kind of does the impossible and successfully wishes for immortality with the Dragon Balls (which is why he’s conveniently banished away to his own dead zone at the end of things, rather than killed). It’s not dwelt on for long, but that’s pretty insane. There’s also a too ridiculous sequence that sees Garlic Jr. getting Gohan drunk on alcoholic apples which is one of the strangest/best sequences the series has ever done. Low stakes, forgettable battles, and the characters at their weakest hold this film back, but clearly there’s a lot of weirdness to appreciate it for still.
3/7 Dragon Balls
12. Super Android 13 (1992/2003)
Super Android 13 is certainly at the point in these films where the make-up of the cast begins to resemble what Dragon Ball Z finally ends up looking like. It’s exciting for the films to have higher stakes and consequences accordingly as the characters that populate them continue to get stronger. These movies became such mainstays in the franchise that it nearly feels like every pivotal arc of the series gets its own designated film, and if that’s the case, then this is the Android Saga’s offering.
The plot here is actually so obvious that it’s a little surprising DBZ had to resort to a movie to get around to it. For a series obsessed with creating stronger versions of old foes and the idea of characters getting absorbed or combined together, the idea of all of this coming together with the Androids in the form of a new foe makes a lot of sense.
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Just like how Androids 17-19 were instrumental for Cell to reach his Perfect form, we learn that Dr. Gero was busy in that lab of his and had created another set of Androids; 13, 14, and 15. Or rather, Dr. Gero’s anger for Goku magnified and multiplied so much within the mainframe of his computer system that this techno-rage is what created these abominations. I’d comment on how ridiculous that is, but this is coming from a world where a certain bean can magically restore all of your faculties.
There’s plenty to say here but you’re basically watching this movie to see a Super Saiyan Goku, Vegeta, and Future Trunks waging war on these Androids. For the first time to get three Super Saiyans moving around in action in a movie, it’s pretty satisfying. We also get to see Goku for the first (and only time) turn Super Saiyan while creating a Spirit Bomb, which evidently leads to him just freebasing the energy from it.
This film really gets most of the basics right. There are some wonderfully complicated battles that go on here, there’s a strong sense of humor to the film that isn’t too overwhelming (which can sometimes be the case), and this film is actually well paced, which is an issue for many of these pictures. That being said, it is a very DBZ-by-numbers plot.
3.5/7 Dragon Balls
11. Battle of Gods (2013/2014)
Set during the ten years of peace after the defeat of Majin Buu, Battle of Gods, suffers from a lot of the issues that many of these “we saved the world” movies do, where a lot of time is just spent watching these people hang out and party. Granted, that’s always a welcome turn for the show (and this one does feature Vegeta singing a pretty inspired impromptu song about Bingo), but when there’s been such a long absence between new Dragon Ball Z content, you don’t want an hour and fifteen minutes of your hour and forty-five minute movie spent on hanging out and talking. The humor at least works for the most part and watching Vegeta try to keep his friends and family in the dark as Beerus plays party guest is as much fun as it is unnecessary.
The concept behind this film is solid enough, with Beerus-sama, the God of destruction being awoken and set to blow up the earth, even if some of the math on the numbers is wonky. Beerus’ whole deal is he’s looking for some alleged “Super Saiyan God” (in yet another film where we get a new villain who’s just seeking for the strongest opponent out there), which is another new way for the series to add a new tier of power that doesn’t break the previously established canon. It’s pretty ridiculous when it’s revealed that this new level is reached by six Saiyans combining their energy, which is the exact amount of Saiyans that happen to be present.
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With this being the first Dragon Ball Z film in decades, it doesn’t fail to offer up all the stops, like showcasing each level of Super Saiyan, fusion, some old familiar faces (Oolong even gets a solid use here), and even the summoning of Shenlong. It’s all perfectly pleasant but it just feels like a lot of time is wasted here, and what results in a bloated film could have been a lot tighter or at least feature more momentum going forward. It’s certainly a nice return to the series, but feels essentially like every other movie, and something truly different and reinvigorated would have been the better return for the franchise.
4/7 Dragon Balls
10. Cooler’s Revenge (1991/2002)
The fifth and sixth Dragon Ball Z films are almost held to a higher pedigree. Before the series got so set on bringing back characters like Frieza, the idea of vengeful family members showing up to kick ass and take names over his death was the next best thing. At this point in the series Frieza was certainly the “golden goose” and so to not only connect one film to the character, but two (and truly, the right way to do these movies is as one big double-feature, which still won’t run very long) held a lot of promise behind it.
Cooler, Frieza’s brother, operates much how his brother did (as well as having a number of transformations behind his full power, too). His henchmen are a little more interesting than the standard fare that’s offered up in these movies, and there’s a welcome samurai slant to the action scenes that do a lot of favors for it.
One of the more interesting decisions of this film is to take the emphasis off of Goku. While it can’t exactly be held against them, most of these films heavily feature Goku and have him saving the day. There is such a roster of characters to this series though that spreading the wealth more than makes sense. With Goku taking a back seat here, regular stand-ins Gohan, Piccolo, and Krillin rise to the occasion, but it’s discouraging to essentially see this venture away from Goku ultimately be squandered in the end. And even still, Goku’s still the one getting rid of Cooler at the end of everything (although knocking him into the sunis one of the better ways to kill someone, and the animation makes the most out of it).
At it’s worst though, Cooler’s Revenge merely feels like the introduction to The Return of Cooler, and even though it hits some reasonable highs and has a strong energy behind it, it doesn’t hold a candle next to its sequel.
4.5/7 Dragon Balls
9. The Return of Cooler (1992/2002)
The Return of Cooler is the first better than average Dragon Ball Z film. It’s the first time these movies really start to let loose and begin to have crazy fun with themselves, and The Return of Cooler is largely aided by this and the fact that it’s already had a film’s worth of backstory to set it up (although this isn’t always a good thing…I’m looking at you second and third Broly films…). The Dragon Ball Z movies up until this point have also featured the series’ “first set” of Z Warriors, which admittedly, might be the least interesting combination of characters. The Return of Cooler for instance finally gets Vegeta into the movie mix, and his presence is immediately felt and the badass quotient is knocked up a few levels.
We even get a “fairly unconventional for Dragon Ball Z movies” sort of plot where rather than a gang of super powerful beings crashing Earth and demanding satisfaction, the film kind of explores the idea of hive mind mentality and an AI with slowly increasing intelligence. After Cooler’s destruction in the sun at the end of the last movie, his remains were picked up and he was rebuilt into the ever more powerful, Metal Cooler.
And did I mention that I dig robots?
We kind of get to see unprecedented damage go down here as our heroes destroy hundreds and hundreds of regenerating Metal Cooler’s. A villain that is constantly repairing itself is actually intimidating and the idea of Goku and Vegeta defeating this power source by giving it too much energy even makes sense in a twisted way.
There’s really not much to hate on here as you get some truly fluid, breathtaking fights on a wide scale that involve some new heavy-hitters. If anything the most frustrating thing here is that the film isn’t longer.
5/7 Dragon Balls
8. Wrath of the Dragon (1995/2006)
Finally we get the answer to the question, “How did Trunks get his signature sword?” I’m joking of course. This detail was never a dangling question or fact that fans were clamoring for an answer to, but it’s funny that that might end up being this picture’s legacy in the end.
Wrath of the Dragon was largely seen as the end of the Dragon Ball Z films, marking a nearly twenty year-hiatus before Battle of Gods was released. Wrath of the Dragon was seen and treated as the franchise’s swan song in a lot of ways, and there’s a definite epic energy behind it all driving it forward. There’s a simple enough story involving a lost warrior named Tapion trying to imprison a towering behemoth of a best known as Hirudegarn. It does what it needs to and you get behind it quickly enough.
Wrath of the Dragon’splacement towards the end of the DBZ films means that the animation has also come along some of the furthest. It’s the second film to integrate computer animation into the mix, but the first to really lean into it and it’s a beautiful transition. Everything in the film (the fights especially) is crisp, but just taking in the city and architecture when the movie gets all Godzilla is enough to marvel at. Of course this translate to the fights being really a sight to behold, especially when Goku has gone all Super Saiyan 3.
It is a little discouraging that Goku masters such an amazing move here in the Dragon Fist, only for it to never come up again, but hey, it gave us a sweet conclusion, so I can look past it. It’s a little more frustrating though that Tapion is a legitimately intriguing ally and one that manages to fit in with the Z Warriors well in a shocking amount of time. It would have been nice to get Tapion reappearing in some context, too. Wrath of the Dragon has a lot of fun and gets many things right, but a re-focus on Goku and a minimal selection of new foes keeps it from being a classic.
5/7 Dragon Balls
7. Special – The History of Trunks (1993/2000)
Dragon Ball Z did something interesting when it came to their “specials.” Rather than opening the floor to new villains like they did with their movies, they decided to focus on pivotal characters from the series’ past, hoping to fill in their stories a little better. Frankly, this list would have been plenty full without the inclusion of these specials, but they’re both of such a high quality (and some of the movies are so bad) that it only seemed right to feature something that’s put in the necessary effort.
While perhaps a little less poignant than Bardock – The Father of Goku (if only because we’ve heard Trunks get into his own timeline before, and even seen him correct it in an abridged version of this in the series), The History of Trunks is still a very powerful achievement from the DBZ team, and almost approaches the emotional levels reached in their other special.
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The History of Trunks operates as a morbid “What If?” storyline as we get a glimpse of a world where Goku died of his heart disease and Androids 17 and 18 essentially wipe out the population. This turns into a touching story between an adult Gohan trying to mentor a young Trunks, as they train for five years to take down the Androids. The crux of all of this is the hope that Trunks can turn Super Saiyan for the first time and use that to destroy the Androids. It’s a difficult process, but the step that pushes Trunks towards finally transforming is a weighty, dramatic one. All of this culminates into a rather succinct story that reaches its natural conclusion.
The same setbacks that plague Bardock attack Trunks here (budget and length, primarily), but the special is also a more contemplative tale than most of the entries on this list. It’s more concerned with psychological catharsis and emotional battles than actual physical ones (although it does inevitably get to them). This is all great, especially considering the bleak subject matter that it’s getting into, but the light action approach might dissuade some.
5/7 Dragon Balls
6. Bojack Unbound (1993/2004)
I have a real soft spot for Bojack Unboundand it’s because it’s such an ugly duckling of a DBZ film, but in all of the best possible ways. It’s a film that’s mostly centered around a tournament that’s set up, and takes place during a time in the series where Goku is dead. As a result, Gohan is the lead of the film, with Goku’s appearances being limited to cameos in the afterlife.
That in itself would inject the film with some new life, but it’s also the picture that at the time, series creator Akira Toriyama, was the most involved with. That might be why this film feels like such a gem in comparison to the ones that it’s situated around—but it also happens to be wedged between three Broly movies that even if it was the worst it would probably feel unique by proxy. Toriyama’s touch is definitely felt here and as a result Bojack Unbound has some of the most memorable henchmen and villains that any of the movies do. In spite of them not serving much weight, there’s clear thought put into each one and it shows. It also makes for one of the best fights out of any of the Dragon Ball Z films as Gohan takes on Bojack and his men.
Bojack Unbound is just a lot of fun and has a different energy to it than the other DBZ movies. It also features one of the best scores of any of the films, but unfortunately, also one of the shorter runtimes, which results in the movie’s ending feeling fairly abrupt.
5.5/7 Dragon Balls
5. Special – Bardock – The Father of Goku (1990/2001)
Bardock – The Father of Goku works as a fantastic companion piece to the Frieza saga, providing the necessary backdrop for everything the series would get into, while also filling in many of the details that were merely hinted at. It additionally picks up on many of the themes that Vegeta himself would echo to Goku in the beginning of DBZ, as he seemed set on cementing the fact that Goku did not come from royalty and that his family were the dregs of the Saiyan line.
This special brilliantly (and quite emotionally, I mean really, that ending…) expands on all of this by basically imbuing Bardock, Goku’s father, with brief psychic abilities. This goes as far as the Saiyan witnessing the soon-to-be extinction of his entire race, with him trying to stop the inevitable from taking place. There’s a whole grim layer of despondency hanging over Bardock’s altruistic journey too, as you know he is destined to fail and can’t win.
The special is held back by the obvious limitations that its budget is lower than the movies, it runs at a mere 40 minutes, and the bulk of the score is reused from the series (although the track selections are spot-on). As far as content goes, it’s a great companion piece to the series and provides some much appreciated pathos to some lesser-known characters. That being said, the work that Dragon Ball Super: Broly does largely renders this film irrelevant.
5.5/7 Dragon Balls
4. Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan (1993/2003)
Here’s a big one – both in reputation, and in Broly’s actual size. Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan is as well regarded as the Cooler one-two punch, with many people considering it to be the best of the films. Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan does a lot of things right, so while even though the sudden appearance of Broly rings all too familiar to other movies, it’s still forgiven.
Were given a lot of backstory on Planet Vegeta for instance (which even manages to be emotional, to its credit), and shown some worthwhile scenes of how the Saiyans used to live before Frieza got a little genocide-happy. These scenes even help give the displaced Broly a sort of Superman-esque story that somehow works for him. Broly is also the longest Dragon Ball Z film of the first batch (until Battle of Gods ushers in the new era of longer movies), and this longer runtime is certainly put to good use where this story is given the proper time to breathe.
In a welcome change, Broly is also one of the more sadistic, psychotic villains the Z Warriors have encountered and his twisted mental state is a wonderful element to the film (he straight up murders his dad). Watching how someone like this fights our heroes makes for some really brutal, chaotic fight scenes. He actually seems intimidating and has the reputation to back-up his infamy, whereas a lot of these movie villains feel like all talk.
Broly’s evolution into a “Legendary Super Saiyan” doesn’t feel as momentous as it could but it still works as a plotting device. The real problem here is that they created a villain with enough depth that he could continue to be mined for several more movies.
6/7 Dragon Balls
3. Fusion Reborn (1995/2006)
Sometimes throwing everything into a movie can be an utter disaster, but sometimes a miraculous juggling act where you keep adding more craziness to the mix can be exactly the way to create a sprawling success. Fusion Reborn is one such film. There’s a tremendous amount going on here, with a lot for every character to do, with it feeling like the movie never slows down or is in short supply of battles.
Not only does this film get all of our characters back in place, but it’s also playing with the fullest deck yet. Fusion Reborn has the privilege of throwing Super Saiyan transformations into its arsenal, as well as the spectacle of fusion, not only with Vegeta and Goku, but Goten and Trunks as well. The film is pure fan service, but not in a way that feels cheap or gratuitous. Even the inclusion of a new form of fusion that sees Goku and Vegeta forming into Gogeta seems exciting and cool rather than some desperate movie ploy.
The humor in place here is even the right sort of twisted comedy that Dragon Ball Z can pull off so well. The villain of the film, Janemba, comes from the afterlife, and ends up throwing the rules of the world into whack by bringing back to life everyone who has died. This results in a wonderfully brief reappearance of Frieza before he’s mowed down into oblivion, but perhaps more notably, the resurrection of Adolf Hitler, who tries to re-command control of the world before Gotenks re-balances the scales.
More humor done the right way comes in the form of Goku and Vegeta unsuccessfully performing their fusion dance before getting it right, with the result seeing them fuse into a fat Gogeta who is practically useless. It’s a pretty inspired idea and adds more depth to the fusion concept than I’m sure they intended. Add to this one of the more creative villains out of the films (who has a killer sword), some landmark battles, and an unpredictable logic behind it and you’ve got yourself a classic DBZ feature.
6/7 Dragon Balls
2. Resurrection ‘F’ (2016)
Resurrection ‘F’ already has its work cut out for it due to the sheer fact that many Dragon Ball fans are burnt out on Frieza as a villain. He’s the series’ persistent cockroach and just when it looks like he’s finally been beaten for good he finds another way to crawl out of the shadows. Accordingly, Resurrection ‘F’ should feel like a retread in many respects, but the film actually figures out how to make Frieza feel new and scary again (he even succeeds—temporarily—in blowing up the freaking Earth!).
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The character’s backstory as he’s stuck in Hell is Dragon Ball at its most absurd and even though a new transformation for the villain should induce eye rolls, the film finds a way to make it work (even if Golden Frieza is as lame a name as Super Saiyan Blue).
Resurrection ‘F’s strengths lie in the epic action scenes that Frieza launches at Earth’s finest. There are huge sprawling battle royales here that allow everyone to have some fun. Even though Goku may ultimately save the day here, it’s also exciting to see Vegeta get to let loose and work out all of his aggression on Frieza. Resurrection ‘F’ may coast a lot on nostalgia, but it contains the necessary content to justify such a move. If nothing else it’s extremely cathartic to watch Goku take out Frieza one more time. 6.5/7 Dragon Balls
1. Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2018/2019)
Dragon Ball Super: Broly faces the very tall task of not only continuing the Dragon Ballnarrative after the conclusion of Dragon Ball Super, but it also tries to finally, once and for all, work out all of the series’ messy baggage regarding the history of the Saiyans and Frieza, as well as canonically fit Broly into the show’s timeline. The finished product is not only extremely satisfying, but it’s also one of the most polished, mature Dragon Ball films ever made. The film is essentially split into two sections that cover Broly’s painful childhood with his demanding, callous father, Paragus, and then Broly’s present role in Frieza’s army as his ultimate tool of vengeance. Broly features stunning character work that almost feels out of place in a Dragon Ball film.
If all of this wasn’t enough, the film’s action sequences are some of the best that the series has ever produced. Goku, Vegeta, Broly, and even Frieza all get their moments to shine in this film. The movie also brings back fusion in a very big way (if you don’t freak out during the film’s climax then you are not a Dragon Ball fan). Add to all of that an incredibly entertaining soundtrack by Norihito Sumitomo and you’re left with an amazing movie that’s a love letter to everything that makes Dragon Ball so special. It also features the best potential Dragon Ball wishes in the entirety of the series!
7/7 Dragon Balls
As you can see, the movies in the Dragon Ball universe have seen a tumultuous history, one that has shown many growing pains throughout the process. There have been ebbs and flows to the journey, but thankfully the latest features have set a strong standard. If Dragon Ball Super decides to turn out another movie, hopefully it will be more like Broly, Resurrection ‘F’, orFusion Reborn, rather than become the next Lord Slug or Bio-Broly.
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, Bloody Disgusting, and ScreenRant. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and he’s always game to discuss Space Dandy. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.