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Film Review: Dragon Ball Super: Broly

Detail of the official movie poster released by Toei Animation.

Detail of the official movie poster released by Toei Animation.

Dragon Ball is back on the big screen after 4 years, this time Akira Toriyama has brought back the Legendary Super Saiyan Broly, a fan favourite from the classic Dragon Ball Z films. Notably, this film is the first to have the Super in the title, and continues on from the recent series, finally making Broly a canon character. I made sure to see it in the cinemas upon release in the United Kingdom, and this is what I thought.

The film starts 41 years ago, where King Vegeta exiles Broly as a child, out of jealousy of his power level being higher than his own son. Outraged, Broly’s father Paragus, tracks his son down only to be left stranded on a deserted planet at the edge of the universe. Paragus uses this opportunity to train Broly to be the strongest Saiyan there ever was, or will be. With the goal of finding a way off the barren planet and back to Planet Vegeta, so Broly can wipe out the Saiyan Royal Family. Fast forward to the present, the pair are found by members of Frieza’s army who are on a recruitment drive in an attempt to bring the Frieza Force back to its former glory. Seeing an opportunity for revenge, Frieza uses Paragus’ rage toward the Saiyan Royal Family to rope Broly into fighting the Saiyan Prince Vegeta, alongside Goku, on Earth.

The film starts off plot-heavy, taking it’s time to develop Broly’s backstory, building up his character. As a whole it is fine, but for me, it did take a bit too long to get to the action. Particularly the quite redundant scenes of following Bardock in the events leading up to Frieza destroying Planet Vegeta and wiping out the Saiyans. It had no real significance to the Broly plotline, and did not really match up with how it was covered in the tv series/special episode. Still focusing on the related backstory, it was quite a departure from the original Broly films. In particular, the narrative was more developed, Broly was showcased a lot more as a victim of his father’s obsession with revenge, forcing him to fight despite his more gentle personality. Even when Broly loses his senses, it’s clear to see his inner conflict which only makes his rage spiral more out of control. As a whole, Toriyama’s involvement was clearly evident, the film felt more in line with the series than the originals, and worked to make Broly a much more interesting character than the previous iteration.

The other half of the film is a flat-out brawl, as if to say enough talk, here’s the action! Vegeta and Goku take on Broly, who only seemingly gets stronger and stronger as the fight goes on, and as the pair are pushed to their limits. Really, this is where the film gets into its stride and becomes an adrenaline rush. The animation has come leaps and bounds since Resurrection F, in particular, the 3-D animation is a lot more refined. What I found interesting is it looked like it was straight out of the FIGHTERZ game, in a good way. Having the 2-D feel, only noticeably 3-D if you really look. There are some really cool moves, Broly’s savage brute force style was generally captured really well. With Goku and Vegeta using some new moves to really up the ante. The only issue with the fight scenes was that they seemed to lack any real impact with the hits that you would usually expect, particularly at times the fast-paced nature seemed a bit too slow. The combos just didn’t seem as fluid and tended to be just the big hits that dropped the intensity. Still, this is made up for in the artistic flair they gave the film. There were some interesting animation effects, using a myriad of colours with particular attacks, and at one point seeing the fight from the viewpoint of one of the fighters. It was great to see they tried new things, moving away from the usual straight forward approach from the previous films. It made it more of a spectacle to watch, and shows even more progress in the animation.

Even though the film was about Broly, I feel the true star of the film was Frieza himself. Interestingly, this is despite the fact he didn’t get too involved in the action himself, but in how he was the drive of the comic relief for most of the film. My favourite part of the film even revolves around this, and I still laugh whenever I think about that moment. The film showcases the side of Frieza as the almighty yet insecure villain at his finest, in a lot more comical way than what we have seen before. At this point, it works a lot more after Frieza helped the Z fighters win the Tournament of Power, despite seemingly having traitorous intentions. These moments weren’t even out of place and helped break up the action a little bit, giving you a break from the constant fights so you could process it. Although this extra Frieza time may have been at the cost some other characters appearing, I welcome it as I felt more characters would of convoluted the plot (particularly as they wouldn’t stand a chance against Broly).

If you are a Dragon Ball fan, this is definitely a film for you. This reinvention of Broly is a lot more developed and making the character canon makes the future of Dragon Ball Super a lot more interesting. Despite the lack of impact, there is still a great fight to be watched and some incredible comedic moments. This is not a film you would want to miss.

Rating: 90/100

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