While it took a while, it’s time to take a look at the (at this point) newsiest Dragon Ball Z film. The franchise has somewhat of a checkered past with movies with most them being non canon filler featuring Goku going Super Saiyan for the first time…again or beating up a new strong person whose never brought up again until their eventual return.
But with this being an theatrically released film, the creators wanted to do something big and thus The Battle of the Gods was released. Let’s find out just how much they put into it.
Battle of the Gods takes place years after the events of GT with Son Goku (Masako Nozawa/Sean Schemmel) traveling between his life on earth and the afterlife at will. On Bulma’s birthday, a great powerful god of destruction, Beerus (Koichi Yamadera/Jason Douglaus) wakes and the both King Kai and the Grand Kai worry that not even Goku can stop his destructive power.
Once the two meet, Beerus defeats Goku easily and moves onto earth with only Vegeta (Ryo Horikawa/Christopher Sabat) left to defend the planet. While Vegeta and the rest of the Z fighters are able to keep him occupied for a while the god soon fights his way through earths mightiest heroes quickly.
With Goku recovered its up to him and the rest of the Saiyans to band together and harness the power of a Saiyan god to challenge Beerus before he destroys earth.
Seeing how this is the first franchise film since the Dragon Ball remake 17 years before, a lot of care and energy went into the production of the film. The animation is clean and the character designs of the Beerus and his servant Whis are interesting and fit into the wacky sci fi world of Dragon Ball.
The film also has some solid direction with sweeping camera angles used during some of the bigger fights scenes as well as some interesting set-ups with dialogue scenes. Speaking of fight scenes, the choreography is top notch as well and end up being the most memorable part of the film.
That being said, the fights are few and fair between. The majority of the films focuses on the nostalgia and comedy that you’d expect from a Dragon Ball franchise. Despite this being something the original Dragon Ball series is known for, this time the comedy seemed to bring the film down more often than not.
For example, during the middle of the film, while Beerus is coming to earth, we’re reintroduced to Emperor Pilaf and his crew, still in child form after the events of GT. While this section is a nice call back, it ends up taking the majority of 30 minutes. When you factor in the running time of 85 minutes that’s a lot of time to kill on goofy characters from the past that have nothing to do with the overall plot.
Past that, the film doesn’t’ really play with the serious nature of a god coming down to destroy the planet. While I understand that Goku has killed an evil god Piccolo by literally ramming through him, this should give the characters some pause. Instead the Z Warriors seem to just stand by and do little to stop any of the action thats taking place.
This lack of seriousness is even matched in the films villain Lord Beerus. While the character is the “strongest in the universe” (till the next guy shows up) he’s presented as a comedy character who seems to be more interested in stuffing his face than destroying things. As this could be seen as a foil to Goku who acts the same way, Beerus seems uninterested in his goal, thus leaving me to question why he’s there.
Due to this lack of focus, none of the characters with the exception of Goku and Vegetta get enough screen time, including Piccalo who continues his trend of being useless in any film or story arc past Freeza. Even staples like Krillen is left to more or less stand silently in the background while Beerus eats sushi and talks about blowing things up.
This film feels like it wants to be a love letter to the Dragon Ball franchise and has all the trappings at times, but it’s bogged down by too many script and story issues that kept driving me out of the film. Couple that with an ending that just solves itself and this film felt even more useless than any of the non-canon films that feature characters like Cooler or Lord Slug.
Was it fun to watch? Yeah, at points. Did I laugh? From time to time. But, is it a film I’d watch ever again? Probably not.
If your a fan of the franchise than it’s a given that you own this in some form, but past that, this is a pass for average anime fans.
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods was produced by Toei Animation and distributed by Toei Company and 20th Century Fox. The series is based upon characters created by Akira Toriyama.