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"Dragonball Z: Fusion Reborn" Finally Back to the Good Movies

imageAfter the mediocrity that was Bojack Unbound and Broly: Second Coming, and the complete and utter pile of crap known as Bio-Broly, it’s about time for the Dragonball Z movies to go back to becoming watchable, let alone good. Thankfully, things do in fact get better.

In an alternate universe where Mystic Gohan somehow defeated Majin Buu, a still-dead Goku competes in the latest Other World Tournament, where he once again faces Pikkon in the finals. However, their match is interrupted when the Spirit Cleanser at the gateway to Hell explodes, creating an evil beast known as Janemba. This creature destroys the barrier between life and death, allowing the dead to roam Earth once more. As Gohan, Goten, and Trunks deal with that, Goku takes on Janemba. However, he proves too powerful, especially when he reverts to a new form. To make things worse, even Goku’s Super Saiyan 3 powers are ineffective. There is only one chance Goku has to defeat the evil Janemba: Fusion with his life-long rival Vegeta!

imageAs one of the few DBZ movies to have the ending spoiled by the friggin movie poster (Movies 9 and 13 also do this), the writers needed to keep things interesting somehow. After all, why watch a movie when the front cover already says what’s going to happen (for those who are blind, Gogeta is created and kicks ass like a good DBZ one-timer should). Thankfully, the writers actually decided to do something creative and create a pretty enjoyable movie. The fighting is fast, furious, and fluid, with flying feats of fervorous fancies flashing across the screen at furious speeds. The humor is pretty funny this time around, especially when the Hitler-look-alike and Vegeta arrive, and the story, though not having many twists at all, works for a movie as simple as this. Granted, the plot isn’t central to most DBZ movies, but here it sets things up rather well and delivers very nicely. This more than makes up for the last terrible movie.

Unfortunately, it’s not perfect. While the Hell scenes are the focus to the movie, there are several cutaways to Earth, showing the other Z-Fighters fighting the dead. The only problem is the limited viewpoint. Gohan has a stand-off against Freeza, then promptly disappears until the end of the movie. In its place is the continuing chaos of Goten and Trunks taking on Hitler. It’s funny at first, but it would’ve been nice to see Gohan take on all the other dead villains (including Bojack, the Bio-Androids from Movie 2, and the Ginyu Force) or see what Piccolo, Tien, Yamcha, Master Roshi, Dende, and all them are doing during this crisis (none of the above actually appear in the movie, by the way). Bulma and Mr. Satan do make cameos, but their combined screen time amounts to about 3 minutes, making one wonder why they were even included. I know the whole point of the movie is to pimp the Fusions, since this premiered in Japanese theaters around the time Gotenks and Vegito appeared in the series, but that doesn’t mean we can’t see everyone else. Oh, right. I forgot, this is DBZ. Never mind.

imageAnimation is a bit special this time around. CG had started to become popular thanks to Pixar, and the Toei staff decided to use it to their advantage, as this is the first DBZ film to feature CG. Now, it’s mostly relegated to digital pans and fancy backgrounds, but it’s nice to see Goku and company enter the digital age. However, as compensation for this, we get some very crude drawings during the “Goten & Trunks vs. Hitler” scenes. For some reason, most of the characters are in a very thick outline, making it seem as though the staff just put stickers on the background instead of actually animating something. Combine that with the rainbow-colored cannon shells and you have something that looks like it came from a child’s coloring book. I don’t care if Goten and Trunks are silly, this kind of style doesn’t fit in DBZ. Thankfully, it’s never used again. At least the various Super Saiyans look cool and the staff at least tried to give Janemba some unique features to make him not look like the obvious Majin Buu clone that he is.

Vocals are pretty much the same as everything else DBZ, and you’ve likely made your opinions on these by now and this disc won’t change a thing. However, there is something that bugs me. It’s especially apparent early on in the movie, but many times the animation moves too fast for the voices to catch up, so it looks sped-up and just does not flow at all. It’s not just the English voice cast that has trouble, but the Japanese cast as well, and the Japanese cast also has that annoying trait where characters who are excited don’t make any kinds of noise at all, even though they’re supposed to be. But I do give props to the dub for one small dub change during the scene where Hitler first sees Goten & Trunks turn into Super Saiyans.

imageExtras? Hah! Though it may be a movie release, this is still a Dragonball Z release, and that means 0 extras. You’ve got trailers, generic character profiles, and FUNi’s latest insert catalog. I know most Japanese trailers really suck, but I do wish FUNi could’ve included it. Or hell, SOMETHING. I mean, wasn’t there a documentary about DBZ in Japan at some point? Why not try and grab a couple of them? Or how about a commentary? At this point, I’m desperate for anything. Come on FUNi, you’ve got one more DBZ movie to release (not including the re-dubs of Movies 2 and 3), please give us some actual extras on Wrath of the Dragon! Please?

Overall, this is a worthy addition for all DBZ fans, but it could’ve been so much more. Maybe if Toei had scrapped Bio-Broly, they could’ve made this movie better. Ah well, live and learn, I guess.

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