Thanks to Madman Entertainment NZ, Attack On Geek was invited along to the highly anticipated New Zealand Premiere of Dragon Ball Super: Broly last weekend and being a Dragon Ball aficionado, Ben Wilson, couldn’t contain his excitement and insisted on being one of the first in New Zealand to watch the film. Here’s his exceptionally detailed yet completely spoiler free review of the film.
Dragon Ball is well acquainted with the idea of obscenely strong foes. Most of the villains inevitably are just that – so Goku and Vegeta (but mostly Goku) can inevitably use a tried-and-true desperation technique and fuse or something. Broly is a canonical remake about the eponymous character, who, more than anything, embodies a torrential force of raw power. That’s probably a good phrase for this movie too.
Though as you wouldn’t expect, Broly is surprisingly restrained for its first half. The original didn’t let things like story get in the way of a beatdown, but this retcon shows considerably more care for setting the stage of who the saiyans were, who Broly, Kakarot, and Vegeta are, and also who they are to each other.
That’s because Broly is treated as more than just an unstoppable force of legend. He’s gone from a psychopathic mass murderer to a compassionate and reluctantly violent boy with latent abilities – which he partly was in the original movie. It’s the same kind of revisionism that saw Dragon Ball Super poking fun at its characters and historical flaws from Dragon Ball Z – the kind of self-reflection a 20 year hiatus can give – which makes the character of Broly now feel like a work of self-correction and the better version of who he probably should’ve been.
Then you get to the really fun stuff – where the film drops its restraint to become what I could only describe as a super saiyan disco. When you have a character as famously primal and powerful as Broly, you’ve gotta show something equally as brutal as his reputation – and Broly is thus far the pinnacle of Dragon Ball brawling. It makes the rest of the series battles look passive compared to its hyper-active action. The entire confrontation has a super sonic kineticism as the screen swiftly and relentlessly follows every savage superhuman move with unforgiving tenacity, while somehow being entirely comprehensible, and infinitely more entertaining than a line of z-vanishes.
The whole film actually has a very different aesthetic – looking like something between Akira Toriyama’s normal work and a Studio Ghibli piece – forming a pascal look of sorts that’s better suited for the energy-careening light show this movie is ultimately about.
I once heard one of my friends say, ‘I’ve never seen Ben take anything as seriously as he does Dragon Ball’. I wholeheartedly agree with him, but unfortunately that makes writing about it really difficult. Dragon Ball has been rather influential for me – being uniquely positioned during my youth to perpetuate ideas of perseverance and discipline. I almost can’t help but come at it in equal measure with the same determination it helped foster in me; tonally unsuited as that may be for a series with plenty of goof. Dragon Ball Super: Broly is what I imagined modern Dragon Ball would be like; a fiercely next-level display to match the intensity its characters so often postulate – and the best Dragon Ball movie thus far.