Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2019) Review
Redefining a Legend
The multiverse aspect of Dragon Ball Super (DBS) opened so many possibilities for the Dragon Ball franchise. Even though the character Kale was basically a female version of Broly in DBS, series creator Akira Toriyama took the ending of DBS as an opportunity to reboot the Broly character and inject a fresh version of him into an entirely new full-length motion picture. What’s extremely cool about Dragon Ball Super: Broly is that it is a reboot and a sequel all rolled into one film that finally solidifies two beloved Dragon Ball characters as canon.
While DBS: Broly does take place immediately after the events of the Universal Survival Saga and the Tournament of Power of Dragon Ball Super, it also reboots the origin of the Saiyans. DBS: Broly takes its inspiration from a mini manga Toriyama wrote back in 2014 entitled Dragon Ball Minus. In reality though, Goku’s origin is now a carbon copy of Superman’s. The two characters have always been similar, but now Goku might as well be the Japanese version of the Man of Steel.
Broly’s origin has now been altered a bit, as well. King Vegeta realizes that Broly has emerged as the only Saiyan more powerful than his son, so he sends him off in a pod to Planetoid Vampa. Broly’s father Paragus swears revenge on King Vegeta and calls him out on his jealousy before going after his son. Paragus spends the next 41 years training Broly as Goku grows up on Earth and Frieza becomes one of the most devastating villains in this or any universe.
Broly’s origin has now been altered a bit, as well. King Vegeta realizes that Broly has emerged as the only Saiyan more powerful than his son, so he sends him off in a pod to Planetoid Vampa. Broly’s father Paragus swears revenge on King Vegeta and calls him out on his jealousy before going after his son. Paragus spends nearly four decades training Broly as Goku grows up on Earth and Frieza becomes one of the most devastating villains in this or any universe. Once Paragus learns of Vegeta surviving the destruction of their home planet, he insists on using Broly for his vengeance with Frieza cheering from the sidelines.
At one hour and 40 minutes, this is the longest theatrical Dragon Ball film to date (the extended version of Resurrection ‘F’ is two hours and 10 minutes), but the writing of the film deserves to be mentioned. The Dragon Ball franchise has always had an issue with either wasting time with unnecessary flashbacks, long-winded speeches, or simply two guys staring at each other for multiple episodes. The Dragon Ball films that came before DBS: Broly aren’t much better with the majority of them clocking in somewhere between 45 and 60 minutes while every film had a storyline and formula that was similar to both its predecessor and its successor. DBS: Broly has an actual storyline that captures your attention from the get-go. The film has a way of referencing the events of the previous Dragon Ball series and movies without being overbearing. They’re brief, to the point, and serve a purpose. Dragon Ball Super: Broly may be the most well-written Dragon Ball adventure to date.
The first Dragon Ball Super film and 20thDragon Ball film overall expands on where the scouters came from and is the anime debut of Goku’s mom Gine. You also get glimpses at Nappa with Hair, Raditz as a kid, and a young Vegeta briefly acknowledging that he has a brother (Tarble from Yo! Son Goku and Friends Return!! may also be canon now). It’s also interesting to note that Frieza’s flesh is pinker and his appearance is more like how he looks in the manga. One of the big drawing points of the film is that this is the debut of the SSJ God form (pink hair) for Vegeta and yet he uses the transformation without any sort of explanation. However, thankfully the film explains why Broly wears that grass skirt the entire film and it turns out to be the most heartfelt moment DBS: Broly.
It’s funny that Dragon Ball Super: Broly makes a point to show that Bulma is equally as vain as Frieza and vice versa. Their plans for what they want to wish for with the dragon balls are hilarious. DBS: Broly feels like the franchise is going in a new direction while also keeping the best elements from the series you love to make it feel like a natural evolution. Goku being a total dolt and not being the most intelligent guy around is a major source of comedic relief as is Vegeta calling him an idiot repeatedly and being completely embarrassed by working with the likes of Kakarot. While Broly is still this monstrous force that is essentially uncontrollable, the character is more vocal than he’s ever been and he has a back story that invokes sympathy towards his situation.
The animation is a blend of hand drawn animation and a more computer generated style not unlike how the video game Dragon Ball Fighterz looks. The traditional animation is the most impressive with the Goku fight against Broly being a high point. Not only does Broly mop the floor with Goku, but the film actually shows you the fight from Broly’s perspective for this first person view of Broly flying, punching, kicking, and blasting Goku as they chase each other all over the Ice Continent. The CGI is a bit more bulky as the characters seem rounder and more muscular, but it dives into realities being shattered because of the battle being so enormously powerful and Broly also awesomely barfs ki blasts like Godzilla’s atomic breath.
It’s unusual that a film this good and this successful not only debuts in January, but is also this satisfying and masterfully crafted but here we are. Dragon Ball Super: Broly is easily the best Dragon Ball film to date. The animation is superb and the fight against Broly lasts for nearly half of the film (a solid 50 minutes). This is the film Dragon Ball fans have been waiting 20 years for. Touching and humorous with chill-inducing fight sequences that leave you gasping for breath, Dragon Ball Super: Broly is a reminder that Dragon Ball has so much left to offer for both long gestating fans and newcomers.
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© 2019 Chris Sawin