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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Dragon Ball Z Double Feature - Dead Zone / World's Strongest
Dragon Ball Z Double Feature - Dead Zone / World's Strongest
FUNimation // Unrated // May 27, 2008
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted May 28, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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The Show:

So many things are better because they come in pairs. Where would the world be if socks came one by one or if shampoo didn't have conditioner? With that in mind FUNimation has been packing Dragon Ball Z movies together with some amount of success.

Given their revisit to the series with an uncut widescreen presentation (yes, yes, insert purist rant here) it has renewed interest in the classic and somewhat tired franchise. If you have been following DBZ lately then you have undoubtedly seen the Broly films packaged together on Blu-ray and the Trunks/Bardock movies presented in similar fashion on DVD. With their latest release FUNimation takes us back to the original two thematic endeavors that started it all.

While Dragon Ball Z enjoyed a total of thirteen episodes before the franchise finally called it quits, the first two films have kind of fallen into obscurity. This is mostly due to the fact that Pioneer had a hand in releasing the film a while ago and FUNimation took over some time after that. Most recently we saw Dead Zone (the first film) on DVD in 2005 but the feature is much different this time around; at least cosmetically.

The first Dragon Ball movie takes place some time before the events of the actual series. Gohan is still a whiny brat, Goku and Piccolo are still enemies, and a little tyke named Garlic Jr. was still a serious threat. In this film Garlic Jr. arrives looking for some Dragon Balls and once he gets his hands on them all hell breaks loose. His ultimate goal is immortality and to do that he "kills" Piccolo and kidnaps Gohan. Naturally some familiarities of the series come into play here as Goku charges after his son and Kami appears with the involvement of Piccolo.

With 41 minutes to tell its story and fighting taking up the bulk of its runtime it's safe to say that Dead Zone is more or less an extended episode of the show. Sure the animation is slightly better and yeah the fighting is pretty darned cool but if you're looking for some actual depth you're going to be disappointed. I always enjoyed Garlic Jr. in the series but as the main villain of a feature length film his involvement seems kind of silly. Still, if you take this movie for what it is then it's not a bad prequel story with some better than average presentation values. DBZ fans will undoubtedly appreciate it more than the uninitiated but I can't imagine newcomers would be blindly stumbling into this release to begin with.

The second film, The World's Strongest Dr. Wheelo is back and looking for a new body. The story here basically features more fighting as the doctor attempts to get his hands on a powerful warrior's body. Naturally his sights narrow in on Goku but not before Piccolo is brainwashed and Goku and friends are put through the ringer. With just about an hour worth of time to play with this story offers much more in the way of eye candy but sadly the story once again falls kind of short. There's more dramatic moments to keep your brain entertained though in the end it's the action, not story that takes over the experience.

At the end of the day whether or not you'll appreciate this release depends solely on your experience with the Dragon Ball franchise. If you're a fan you'll most likely be interested in this DVD for the "improved" presentational merits. With that being said people who loathe FUNimation's new widescreen touch-up job may grumble about the picture being cropped and whatnot. Judging the films solely on their entertainment value this release comes recommended for fans of DBZ. Both movies are essentially extended episodes but there's no denying they embody the essence of the series.

The DVD:

Video:

Both Dead Zone and World's Strongest are presented on DVD in much the same way the remastered show is. The original material has been brought through one filter after another to clean up the picture and it definitely shows. While both films maintain a certain worn look with grain, dirt, and some faded colors there's no denying that the transfer contains an overall vibrancy and is much sharper than you'd imagine a twenty year old image would look like. The aspect ratio for both films is presented in anamorphic widescreen to give a somewhat more theatrical appearance.

Audio:

Both films feature original Japanese language tracks with mono output and English 5.1 offerings with selections for original Japanese music and updated English tunes. When it comes to this series I have always been a fan of the original Japanese content and though the mono track is definitely more subdued I found the dub to be much more palatable. With that being said the English offerings are much better in the technical department with a greater sense of immersion. Unfortunately even that 5.1 selection isn't quite as robust as it could have been.

Extras:

With trailers included on both discs you're not getting much in the way of extra features here. Well, okay, there is an audio commentary for Dead Zone but it is without a doubt one of the worst commentaries I have ever listened to. Chris Cason (ADR Director) and Chuck Huber (voice actor for Garlic Jr.) sit around and regurgitate useless banter over the film. The only time they actually talk about the movie is when Chuck stops to point out that one of his characters is speaking. It's so obnoxious that this release would have almost been better off without it.

Final Thoughts:

Another Dragon Ball Z two pack has hit stores and this one keeps FUNimation's new line of DBZ treatment going. You could look at this as DBZ for a new generation because the widescreen transfer definitely isn't for purists of the franchise. With that being said the uncut presentation of both films is a nice touch and the packaging is definitely slick. As for the quality of the films? Well, they are basically just extended episodes though World's Strongest does up the dramatic ante a tad. Your mileage will vary with this release but consider it recommended.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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