Dragon Ball Z is one of the most beloved animes for many children born and raised in the 90s. The show's blend of action, humor, and more action make it easy to see why the series appealed to my friends and I growing up.
I would race home from school everyday; school let out at 3:45, just in time to get home for the 5 o'clock showing during the Toonami block of animes carved out of Cartoon Network. Any time some activity would interfere with my ability to sit at home and watch DBZ would result in unreasonable anxiety. I still vividly remember every disappointment I have had from my mom not being able to grasp how a VCR's record button works. Sure, I would program it myself to record at a specific time but without fail one of my younger sisters would manage to mess that up as well (this explains why I probably had as many VHS tapes full of Lizzy McGuire as I did DBZ). So naturally when I heard their was a new animated feature coming to North American theaters I knew I wanted to see it. Would it suck? Maybe. But I felt the film had a good chance of succeeding based on nostalgia purposes alone. The verdict? Probably better than I thought it was going to be.
Yes, the nostalgia was at full maximum; I was grinning from ear to ear for the first 30 minutes just from how I, at 23 years old, was sitting in a theater watching Goku and Vegeta turn Super Saiyan, a feat I had not seen for many years (my DBZ watching is not quite of prime importance in my life right now). However, the film manages to work by also being pretty funny. There were a number of jokes that worked as both laughing at and with the movie. I do not really remember Dragon Ball Z having quite as much humor in it from when I watched the original series as a kid but I was pleasantly surprised by the direction they took. The action is also top notch for the most part, featuring smooth transitions between animation and CGI.
The negatives are probably what you would expect. The story is not awful by Dragon Ball Z standards, but the film feels like it never truly takes off. The film amps up from time to time but there is no true climax; the "main" fight feels little different than any other fight throughout the movie. The main antagonist is a cool idea but having an actual god that literally cannot be beaten takes some of the dramatic weight out and Super Saiyan God felt a bit lame as well. None of these negatives were enough to make this a bad movie and this is a definite recommend to any fans of the franchise.