ANIME & MANGA - Review
11:21 - 23rd January 2015, by NEO Staff

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods

In the first Dragon Ball Z feature in over a decade, Goku and his assorted allies are up against the newest opponent to present himself – widely regarded as the strongest being in the known universe. Lord Beerus, the God of Destruction, has awoken from his slumber, and has his sights set on fulfilling a prophecy about a Super Saiyan God (so that he can beat it up) and nothing – not even the planet Earth – is going to get in his way!

If you’re expecting a thrilling barrage of super-powered action from Battle of Gods though, then you might well be disappointed. Most of the plot revolves around Bulma’s birthday party, and the action seems thinly spread over what is a fairly short movie – although this release does include the director’s cut, which adds an extra 20 minutes to the runtime.

This being said, the light-hearted antics that take place throughout the movie are certainly entertaining, and pretty much everyone who’s anyone in the Dragon Ball universe is present. Long-time fans of the series will surely relish the chance to share one last story with their favourites. If your favourite part of Dragon Ball Z was the off-the-wall comedy and extremely eccentric characters, you’ll get a lot more out of this than the pure action enthusiasts.

Even the main bad guy, Beerus, seems more comical than truly menacing. Rather than providing any true villainy, he just gets right into the festivities, and seems more like a God of Stuffing His Face than a God of Destruction. While it’s definitely a change of pace from the kind of shonen enemy that we’re all used to, it causes the film to feel a bit weirdly paced, and you might be finding yourself scratching your head and wondering when the confrontation that’s been built up so much right from the opening scene is actually going to happen, if at all.

When the action scenes do show up, however, they are visually outstanding, making great use of the theatrical budget and modern animation techniques to increase the battles in scale, ferocity, and of course the pure speed that Dragon Ball Z is famous for, far beyond the earlier adventures. Some of the climactic set-pieces make use of CG backgrounds and effects, which end up looking a little odd when paired with the classic art style, but all in all, the visual elements of both action and non-action scenes look spectacular, managing to feel traditional, but with vibrant new colours and sharp animation.

However, once the novelty of Battle of Gods fades, the story feels a little empty and directionless. Although Akira Toriyama, creator of the Dragon Ball manga, was closely involved in its production, and it was widely publicised as the only movie to be part of the series’ official storyline, it still suffers from the same symptoms of other filler content – nothing happens that will make a significant impact on fans of the series, and newcomers to the world of Goku will more likely be left wondering what all the fuss was about, rather than checking out the original series.

These criticisms aside, though, the movie feels less like an intentionally important part of the canon, and more like a nostalgic celebration of the franchise, with a supposedly extra-formidable villain thrown in for the sake of having some flashy fight scenes. If you’re a seasoned veteran of the series who’s missed their favourite Saiyans since the last adventure, you’ll probably be happy to while away an hour and a half with this. While Battle of Gods is far from perfect as a story on its own merits, it does serve as a nice bookend for everything in between this and that very first scene of Dragon Ball.

Though it isn’t without its shortcomings, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods manages to deliver everything you’d expect from the movie, in a short but sweet offering.
SCORE: 3/5
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