Review: DRAGON BALL Z: BATTLE OF GODS Lacks (Goku's) Power

Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of Gods is a really fun entry in Toriyama Akira's beloved universe that's just not up there with the most memorable ones. It manages to capture the absurdist essence of Dragon Ball very well, but disappoints in the other important regard.

If you don't expect one epic Dragon Ball Z confrontation like those you grew up with, say Goku vs. Freeza or Gohan vs. Cell, you shouldn't end up dissatisfied with it. However, the premise (as well as the title with "battle" in it) speaks to both fans and newcomers equally: Goku is about to protect planet Earth once again as the threatening God of destruction Bills (aka Birusu) wakes up. Everything leads to this face-to-face duel so one should expect epic stuff, otherwise there's really no point. The use of the word epic is perhaps too much when referring to this movie, and not only for the obvious reason (that it lasts 85 minutes): the battle between gods doesn't live up to its simple yet promising start, with little power and excitement.

We certainly get plenty of amusingly silly material, generally working fine as an absurd entertainment, like I said (though there are some misfires). It brings back the peaceful times usually found in the first and last episodes of each anime saga: for Bulma's 38th birthday party, the whole gang gets together, giving a certain special feel to the movie. Characters like Piccolo and Krillin are pretty much irrelevant for the central story, while others, like Gohan, Trunks and even Pilaf and Shenlong, have attractive moments. Still, minor characters don't stand much from the straightforward narrative.

It's all about the new enemy Bills, for which Toriyama and screenplay writer Watanabe Yûsuke created an interesting background story for. Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of Gods nicely contributes to the general mythology, with a new Super Saiyan transformation and stuff about Bills' relation with Freeza and the destruction of Planet Vegeta. At the same time, Bills is invited to join the humoristic side of the movie and there are at least a couple of hilarious situations, for example Bills and Mr. Boo arguing over some pudding!

Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of Gods has a completely renovated animation aesthetic compared to the old anime, going into CGI territory, which makes it look sometimes like a video game with 3D scenarios. It's a welcome effort, as it only tries to adapt modern animation techniques to the original anime. When trying to recreate the whole experience for the fans' nostalgia, the Mexican dub I watched suffers the recognizable absence of Goten and Master Roshi's original voices. Aside of that little detail, the rest of the voices are perfect.

Like watching the Great Saiyaman episodes and stopping right when all the real (Majin Boo) action starts, Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of Gods feels incomplete. The nostalgic movie event of the year (at least in Mexico it is) brings good memories but lacks the final awesome punch.

Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of Gods opens in Mexico on Friday, September 27, and it's already available on Blu-Ray/DVD in Japan. A US theatrical release is expected for 2014. 

Around the Internet:
  • Chad Hutchings

    Man, I loved this movie. Maybe thats because I jumped on the dragon ball bandwagon with Dragon Ball, not Dragon Ball Z. It was great to just have a day in life movie, and Bills was great. I want to see a manga with this guy in it. He was hilarious. I loved the looney toons style suspension of gravity followed by him following when he figures out he's not standing on anything during his intro scene. Like Goku, he just wanted to have fun and meet someone strong. I also really like that this is in canon, and that Vegeta suprassed goku briefly.

    unlike other DBZ movies developed without toriyama's input, this is not an outright battle movie like Brolly or Coolers revenge, but rather its a character piece, and in Dragonall fashion the characters are all wacky and hilarious. Thats what I get out of this, just to have fun and enjoy the party, the hijinks and the battles as a whole. I think most people though will be waiting for the fights to start, and consider everything else a waste of time, which is really their loss.

  • CiofiPlay

    Agree mate.and it wasn't gt style.
    it combined comedy with action which db/dbz is all about.
    but i think a bit more action could be great next time.also the ending was great!!

  • Ryumoau

    just saw this subtitled and thought it was very disappointing. The focus on humor was a huge mistake, since most of it wasn't funny, aside from that bizarre bingo scene with Vegeta.
    They also mishandled the main villian Bills. Even though he is stronger than any villian Goku has ever faced, i never once felt threatened by him. Its mainly due too them trying to make food jokes involving him and his assistant.

  • Ryan S Richert

    thing of it is, Bills isn't a villain. in DBZ every universe has a God of Destruction, it's almost like a job. Bills doesn't feel like a villain because he isn't one; he doesn't feel actual malice towards Earth, only annoyance at not getting pudding, haha

  • Eric Ortiz

    Yeah, the fun side should have been much more balanced with the classic, old-school action. I actually liked some jokes dealing with Bills, but in the end, felt just like you: disappointed. Arguably the movie's biggest joke is its conclusion, though I don't want to spoil it.

  • Victor Hernandez

    You realize that Master Roshi's original voice actor died, right?
    In fact, it's not even bringed out in interviews or press statements out of respect.

  • Eric Ortiz

    Nope, I didn't know that. Sorry!

  • armatus

    ive seen the movie and its a great way to spend you time. of course you cant do the whole " hero gives everything and fails, then overcomes a new barrier and finally prevails" thing in 90 min. if you dont go into this with this unreasonable expection, you'll have a lot of , if your older nostalgic, fun :)

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