One fateful night in 2014, Akira Toriyama tossed and turned in his bed. Sweat poured from his forehead as he struggled to come up with an idea for the fifteenth Dragon Ball Z movie: “If I don’t submit a storyboard soon, those Toei bigwigs will have my head. They’ve already declined the Mr. Satan origin story pitch, as well as Rise of the Planet of Oozaru, Majin Chichi, Zombie Broly, The Misadventures of Icarus, and even Yamcha’s Revenge. Well, guess I have no choice. Blue-Haired Goku vs. Drag Queen Freeza it is.”
In an interview with V Jump Magazine, Toriyama claimed to have concocted the premise for Resurrection: “F” while listening to the song “F” by Maximum the Hormone.
A small blue-ish man uses the Dragon Balls to resurrect Freeza’s entrails which the man then puts into a regeneration chamber so that Freeza can come back to life, turn Gold, and fight Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Goku <– the official name.
Along with the groundbreaking storyline, MtM’s metal manifesto inspired a bout of headbanging that irreparably damaged the manga-ka’s long-term memory banks. Toriyama forgot that Freeza already tried and failed to exact his revenge on Goku during the Android Saga (not to mention his unofficial brother’s spoiled attempts to do the same in both movie five and six). The third time wasn’t the charm and, turns out, the fourth wasn’t either.
We open with a descent into the Home For Infinite Losers–foreshadowing the audience’s experience for the next ninety minutes. King Enma, having sentenced Freeza to an eternity of cacoonment, subjects the former Dark Lord to endless cute-torture at the paws of a stuffed animal marching band, a gnome, and a sexy playboy fairy. The humorous introduction accomplishes two things: sets up Toriyama’s next one-shot, Bimbo the Hell-Fairy, and showcases some of the worst visuals in the history of the Dragon Ball franchise–stomach-churning CGI models and animation quality on par with or below the first two arcs of Super.
Sorbet and his Dodoria/Zarbon doppelgangers oversee Freeza’s former planet piracy operation. Although the infrastructure has crumbled, Sorbet drastically improved the outfit’s Useless Character Radar. The generic henchmen instantly locate the most annoying characters in the Dragon Ball universe–Pilaf, Shuu, and Mai. The ever-lessening difficulty of the Dragon Ball fetch quest (once requiring an arc’s worth of time and toil), compounded by the Z-Crew’s refusal to lock the orbs away in a secure facility, results in the brain-dead trio summoning Shenlong for Sorbet in a manner of moments.
Shenlong, the ol’ jokester, claims that he cannot resurrect Freeza because “that being’s body was cut to pieces long ago.” Toriyama loves making arbitrary wish rules to either bring people back to life or keep them dead, but this one so blatantly opposes every Dragon Ball precedent it could make any fan chortle in disbelief. Characters have suffered decapitations, dismemberments, detonations, incineration by the fires of a dying planet, and obliteration by all manner of energy balls only to have Shenlong resurrect them with pristine wish-bodies. Regardless, the Freeza Federation’s cutting-edge regeneration technology, capable of filling plot holes of any size, reconstructs our villain via one of his writhing flesh-hunks.
Meanwhile, Gohan and Piccolo wallow in a purgatory of adult responsibility–sensing the general evilness of the baddies’ ki and acknowledging Shenron’s summoning before grunting and retreating back to their hollow existences. Indeed, the Z Warriors could have stopped this nefarious plan before it began. Even Yajirobe, at least as powerful as Planet Namek Freeza at this point, could’ve popped out from behind a boulder and sliced Sorbet in two. But the Namekian, clearly exhausted from a hard day of rocking Pan’s crib with his foot, does nothing.
Despite Goku’s ability to instantly transmit himself and all his friends anywhere in the universe, tune in to the King Kai FM newsfeed, or otherwise sense the birth of every malevolent deed, the monkey brothers frolick across Beerus’ pleasure planet for the first half of the film. Toriyama grants Tracksuit Gohan and his pouch of human cannon fodder ten minutes (three to six hours in Dragon Ball time) to pummel some power-level-challenged Freeza henchman before daddy arrives.
The animators ramp up the graphics during battle sequences but only ever manage to match the visual quality of later Super arcs. The CGI-laden throwdowns resemble a not-as-pretty Dragon Ball FighterZ match. Undeterred by his staff’s lack of skill, Toriyama whips out his trump card: the handy-dandy Transformation Twister Spinner. He flicks the arrow and it lands on blue. To demonstrate the Creator’s ingenuity, a reviewer must construct a pictorial history of Goku’s hair color:
After refusing to transform and tiring themselves out for no apparent reason, Goku and Freeza once again decide to stop fighting at “50% Maximum Power” and “go all out.” Only the minor characters seem to fear for their lives–Whis and Beerus stand off to the side, aloof, and only willing to intervene if the premier matchup compromises their access to strawberry sundaes. Vegeta and Goku, too egotistic to fight together, take turns wasting time with their foe–each Saiyan risking their own lives and the lives of everyone on the planet because they never learned how to share.
Freeza, radiant from the epiphany that working out makes one stronger, “transforms” (gets gold and purple skin)–all thanks to a strict six-month training regimen:
- 9 am to 10 am: Over 9000 morning kegels.
- 10 am to 12 pm: Using Sorbet for Death Beam target practice.
- 12 pm to 5pm: 5 million laps in an Olympic sized swimming pool filled with beet juice.
- 5 pm to 8 pm: Soaking in a hot tub filled with molten gold.
- 8 pm ‘til bedtime: Curling up next to a bonfire of burning animal carcasses and writing potential names for the new transformation in his notebook: “Hm, let’s see–The Gilded Goon? Nah, too tacky. Mr. GoldiPurps? Not menacing enough. Super Freeza God Super Freeza? No, but I’m close. Very close.”
Only another pictorial history can fully encapsulate the results of his training:
Unfortunately, Freeza falls into a trap familiar to many first-time gym-goers–focusing on weight-training and neglecting cardio. Freeza lacks the required stamina to use his marvelous makeover for revenge purposes. However, the indomitable schemer falls back onto Plan B–letting Sorbet use his laser pointer to blink Goku to death. Yes, despite the Saiyan’s ability to absorb energy balls with two thousand times the explosive force of a hydrogen bomb, our hero crumbles from the equivalent of a Taser shock.
Not to worry, Vegeta saves the day and–oh, wait, his Sermon on Pride gives Freeza enough time to destroy the Earth’s core. Dumb and Dumber’s intellectual bankruptcy finally rewards the Cold One with a “W.” Earth and all its miserable inhabitants vaporize into space dust. Thus ends Resurrection “F.” Toriyama casts off the shackles of shonen tropes and plunges the franchise into a Dark Age of–
Toriyama: Time Travel Staff.
Animators: B-but, sensei, don’t you think it’s a bit lazy to fix everything by going back in–
Toriyama: Lazy? Do you realize who you’re talking to? I’m the guy who invented Super Saiyans just to keep from having to fill my characters’ hair in with black ink. Now hurry up and draw the staff before I make GT canon!
And they all lived happily ever after.
Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection “F” scores an F for creativity. Toriyama puts all of his ducks in a basket full of color-swapping gimmickry and fumbled plays for nostalgia. With its stale premise and staler visuals, the fifteenth movie provides nothing but material for an impending Super recap arc. A reviewer can only wait with bated breath for the arrival of the sixteenth movie, tentatively titled Dragon Ball Z: The Birth of the Super Saiyan Ultra Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Instinct Master.
Good For: Dragon Ball completionists.
Bad For: Everyone else.
And, please remember:
~ Don’t Shoot the Messenger