Dragon Ball Z is a phenomenon. Fifteen years ago, DBZ was the juggernaut of anime. The popularity was so high in fact, that most credit the Dragon Ball franchise as the main reason for the popularity of anime as a whole. Nearly two years ago, Akira Toriyama decided to make the first Dragon Ball related animation in 18 years, after an insanity of fan demand, FUNimation has finally licensed both versions of the film for North American audiences. Does Battle of Gods live up to the hype?
Sometime between the ten year gap between the end of the Buu saga and the world martial arts tournament that capped the Z series, our heroes are enjoying peaceful times by enjoying a day at Capsule Corp, celebrating Bulma's (voiced by Monica Rial) birthday. The only absence, of course, is Goku (voiced by Sean Schemmel), who's busy training his life away on King Kai's (also voiced by Sean Schemmel) planet.
Elsewhere, a god with the likenesses of a cat, Beerus (voiced by Jason Douglas), dubbed the God of destruction, is awoken from a several decade long slumber by his assistant, Whis (voiced by Ian Sinclair), due to the premonition of a mythological figure called the "Super Saiyan God." Upon being awoken, Beerus discovers that Frieza, one of the most ruthless villains in the galaxy, has been defeated, by a saiyan no less. Beerus concludes that the one whom defeated Frieza must be the super saiyan god. Along with Whis, Beerus decides to track down the saiyan whom defeated Frieza: Goku.
Goku, through King Kai's telepathy, finds out about Beerus being awoken and in typical Goku fashion, is overjoyed at the prospect of finding a new challenge, despite King Kai's warnings against doing so. King Kai's fears become realized when the god of destruction appears before them.
Once again, Goku being Goku, he jumps at the opportunity to challenge Beerus to a fight. Goku powers up to super saiyan 3 and is baffled that Beerus has remained in the same stance, calm and collected, since he arrived. Goku attacks but can't land a single hit, and with a flick of his finger (literally), Goku is put into the ground, unconscious. Beerus deduces that Goku can't be a super saiyan god with such pathetic strength. Whis informs Beerus that there are several more saiyans gathered together on Earth. Beerus decides to visit Earth eventually making it to Bulma's birthday party. With Goku out of commission, it's up to Vegeta (voiced by Chris Sabat) to defend the earth against the god of destruction. Is he up to the task? Can Goku make it back to Earth to defend his friends and planet? What and who exactly is the super saiyan god and can it stop Beerus from destroying the Earth?
Included with this set are both the original 85 minute theatrical cut, and the 106 minute uncut edition. There were some pacing issues in the original 85 minute cut (the comedy material), so the 106 minute cut can be a bit overwhelming at times, especially since those extra 20 minutes are almost exclusively comedy segments. The biggest mistake in the 85 minute cut is that the Pilaf material runs too long, taking away 10-12 minutes in one long sequence from the movie. In my opinion, they should have trimmed that down, and kept in some Beerus' backstory they cut out and the scene where Hercule is drunk and challenges him, the only scene in the entire film where Hercule actually speaks. Regardless, I loved every minute of it admittedly due to my own personal nostalgia. I was thrilled to see Goku and all of the characters again.
+ Excellent dub. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this is Sean Schemmel's best work to date, he does fantastic work here and proves why he's widely considered to be the definitive Goku. Jason Douglas is the other standout of the film, perfectly capturing the playful yet terrifying nature of the villain, Beerus.
+ Nostalgic for Dragon Ball Z fans.
+ Perfectly balances elements of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z.
+ Surprising ending.
- While a lot of the fight scenes are fluid and excellently done, there are a couple that are a bit uninspired.
- The film feels bogged down at some points, especially in the Emperor Pilaf sequences.
- A movie really only for the established fan base.
Video and Audio:
The visuals on the newly animated Dragon Ball feature are simply amazing. Battle of Gods is presented in a 1.78:1 presentation. The action sequences are wonderfully fluid and beautifully animated. The color palette that's at use is utilized effectively, the colors are bright, bold and sharp. The film has the same art style as the series, but with a polished updated feel to it. You can tell that the studio certainly put every penny they could into this gorgeous production.
As per usual with FUNimation there are two different audio tracks used for this release, The theatrical editions are both presented in a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track for the Japanese and English dubs. For the uncut edition, it features an English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 track.
For Dragon Ball Z, quite frankly I'll never watch the Japanese version over the English (one of only two shows that are the case, the other being Cowboy Bebop), but for the sake of the film, I watched both versions. I never particularly cared for the Japanese track for the series, although I respect them, and it's pretty much the same here. Fir the Japanese tracks, the standout performers are the Seiyuu's for Vegeta and Beerus. The English dub work is excellent, the best it's ever been in fact, with Sean Schemmel delivering his best work in the Dragon Ball franchise to date. The mix is great with it's utilization of the soundtrack. The film has a more upbeat feel to it, and the score is appropriate to that throughout. There were no signs of any audio distortions or dropouts.
- The voices of Dragon Ball Z unveiled: A near twenty minute behind the scenes featurette showing the process of dubbing the film with some of the voice actors including, Sean Schemmel (Goku & King Kai), Christopher Sabat (Vegeta, Piccolo, & Yamcha), Jason Douglas (Beerus), Ian Sinclair (Whis), Kyle Hebert (Gohan, Narrator, and Ox King), Kara Edwards (Goten and Videl), Sonny Strait (Krillin), John Burgmeier (Tien) Monica Rial (Bulma), Josh Martin (Majin Buu), Chuck Huber (Emperor Pilaf), Cynthia Cranz (Chi-Chi and Mrs. Brief), Meredith McCoy (Android 18), Brina Palencia (Chiaotzu and Puar) and Mike McFarland (Master Roshi.)
- Behind the scenes: Battle of the voice actors - a featurette that showcases the dubbing process of the final 10 minutes of the fight sequence between Goku and Beerus.
- Textless closing theme.
- U.S. dub trailer.
- Trailers for other FUNimation titles such as Dragon Ball Z, Attack on Titan, Toriko, Fairy Tail, Code;Breaker, The Devil is a Part Timer! & a live action Street Fighter film.
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods is one hell of a fun flick. For any fan of the Dragon Ball franchise, you need to check it out. The brand new film takes all of the best elements of both Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, combines them and the result is a film full of nostalgia, fun characters, some legitimate laugh out loud moments (although a lot do fall flat at the same time), and slick action sequences. It's a film that showcases perfectly why the Dragon Ball franchise has such long lasting popularity. Highly recommended.