Directed by: Tatsuya Nagamine
Runtime: 100 minutes
Just when you thought the power level of these guys couldn’t get any higher, they do. Since I was a teenager, I have absolutely loved the Dragon Ball world. From Dragon Ball (a little before my time), Dragon Ball Z and now Dragon Ball Super, somehow Akira Toriyama continues to find new transformations for his beloved saiyans, Goku and Vegeta.
At the announcement of its release, I was absolutely ecstatic to see yet another famous Saiyan again: Broly. Broly was first introduced through the film Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan. In this telling, Broly was a young Saiyan baby who slept in a pod beside Goku (then known as Kakarot). As Goku would cry continually, Broly developed a deep hatred towards him, and his immense power would eventually drive him insane. He was always a rather sympathetic villain, and this instalment is no different.
In Dragon Ball Super: Broly, we are taken straight away to a familiar storyline, as we see Freeza preparing for the destruction of Planet Vegeta. This may have seemed slow for a few fans who are quite familiar with this plot, but it did give a good background on the character’s motivations and introduced us to a modified version of Broly’s origin (a key element in the understanding of his character). As the film continues, hints about the events of Dragon Ball Super are dropped, but rarely enough to confuse the audience. Naturally, the heroes must clash with Broly in order to save the planet.
Goku and Vegeta were solid characters throughout, however the normal issues I have with this series were also prevalent. Goku and Vegeta would not use their entire power until right at the end of the fight. While this might seem like a trivial issue, it was frustrating to see the fight evolve slowly, allowing Broly to catch up to their power, while risking planet Earth. They may not be the brightest (Goku) or most caring (Vegeta) characters, but they do love Earth. Vegeta also seemed to take a backseat in the middle of the film, which is very unlike his character—while Vegeta has learnt some humility in the series, he would never back down on a fight to let Goku battle. This seemed like yet another plot device to delay the fight even further.
The development and change in Broly’s storyline was something I was worried about. However, I thoroughly enjoyed his character arc in this film and felt like the changes were far more effective than his original arc. Broly has been one of the few sympathetic ‘villains’ of the series, while simultaneously being an absolute psycho. His intense eye contact and absolute loss of control was explained as a human form of the Oozaru transformation. This did an excellent job of explaining how Broly could keep up with Super Saiyan God Goku and Vegeta for even a second and was a nice story nod to previous transformations. The relationship with his father, paired with the sympathy of his newly found friends was touching and allowed the audience to feel conflicted while Broly fought our heroes. His intense power was evident throughout and I couldn’t help but jump in my seat when his ‘berserker’ mode was unleashed.
The animation style has come a long way since the original Dragon Ball saga. Some of the explosions and attacks in this film felt like they were real, and the smoothness of the energy blasts were incredible. While the complaint of Dragon Ball Super and glitching animation is also valid here in this film (the fusion dance scene in particular was awkward), the fight scenes have never been so immersive. As a frequent sufferer of motion sickness, I didn’t feel ill, but with the new animation style allowed the viewer to take flight with the characters and follow the action more closely than before.
Goku was loveable as always and the series suffered the same animation issues and character depth as usual. It didn’t break new ground or reveal any new abilities, but overall this film brought exactly what you would expect from a Broly Dragon Ball film.