Reviewby Zac Bertschy, Dec 18th 2003
Dragon Ball Z Movie 8
DVD: The Legendary Super Saiyan [Edited]
Chi Chi and Goku are standing before the admittance board for Gohan's new school when King Kai summons Goku for an emergency. It seems there's an all-powerful new Saiyan ripping the South Galaxy to pieces! Meanwhile, a mysterious Saiyan named Paragus invites Vegeta to his homeworld, claiming that he's going to restore the Prince of Saiyans to his rightful place atop the Saiyan food chain. It all becomes a trap as Paragus' son, Broly, turns out to be the legendary Super Saiyan, a being of pure malevolence who is bent on total galactic domination!
What can be said about DragonBall Z that hasn't already been said? Either you like this sort of thing, or you don't. Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan (or ‘DragonBall Z movie eight’, for those of you that think American film franchises suffer from excessive sequels) is yet another theatrical DragonBall Z adventure designed to excite little boys. In terms of children's entertainment (otherwise known as the electronic babysitter), this film does exactly what it's supposed to do. Unfortunately, it doesn't do much else.
The story follows the same exact story as nearly every other incarnation of DragonBall Z: Goku and his gang of warrior pals have to take down some nasty villain who just so happens to be even more powerful than any other enemy they've ever fought. They spend roughly 30 minutes setting up a fight, and then spend the final 30 minutes fighting. There's a lot of posing, a lot of powering up, and a lot of energy balls being tossed around. Unfortunately, in this particular film, there isn't a lot of engaging story development or even the exposition necessary to make the viewer care one whit about what's going on. This time, they're fighting Broly, the ‘legendary Super Saiyan’ who for some reason is much more powerful than Goku and his friends. They spend a little time telling us Broly's back-story but unfortunately don't give him any reason at all to be evil (aside from the fact that this is DragonBall Z and Goku can't just eat and crack lame jokes for 70 minutes). It's as if the screenwriters knew that all they had to do was come up with a villain for Goku to fight, knew that all the audience wanted to see were muscle-headed, blonde-haired dudes beating the snot out of eachother, and thusly wrote a script that had zero motivation for most of the characters. It doesn't seem to matter who they're beating up or why they're beating him up, just that they're, you know, beating someone up. In other DragonBall Z movies (and especially in the series), they take the time to do a little story and character development, flesh things out, and make you care about what's going on. Sure, the fighting is excessive, but if you've watched enough of the series, you're hooked. For whatever reason, they seem to have just tossed aside that principle for this movie.
Of course, we know the bad guy has to threaten Earth at some point (which he does), we know Goku will wind up having to sap the power from his friends to defeat the enemy since he isn't strong enough on his own (which he does), and we know that the whole thing will wrap up in just over an hour (which it does). Why FUNimation is touting this as the ‘most anticipated DragonBall Z movie release ever’ is completely beyond me; it all seems totally by-the-numbers. Aside from Broly being the 'most powerful Saiyan ever!' (which I suppose is jaw-droppingly impressive to an eight-year-old), there isn't anything in this movie that hasn't been done before in other DragonBall Z movies and episodes. Heck, even the humor seems a little misplaced.
The entire film is a little awkward, but it doesn't seem like that's the fault of the Japanese production staff. FUNimation has once again removed all of the original music and replaced it with rock music that sounds like it came from a WWF soundtrack. The result is a lot of missed and late musical cues, some bizarre scoring choices and a whole lot of totally inappropriate lyrics playing over the action. Usually, if you remove the music from a film with a custom score and replace it with something else, the result seems a little off; a film's soundtrack is, oftentimes, what holds the pacing and scene composition together. Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan is completely devoid of impact, mostly because the music seems so out of place, which renders the entire film anemic and flaccid. For example, a fight scene will begin, and a rock song will start up. About a minute in to the fight, they'll cut to a brief comic relief scene, one that probably had appropriate music scored to it for the original Japanese release. FUNimation's version has some hardcore metal singer screaming about ‘no forgiveness’ or something over it. It's so awkward, it's almost surreal.
For being only an hour and change, the movie does seem to drag a little bit, but that's because it's so hard to care about what's happening on screen. The villains are given only the barest hint of development, and it's assumed that the viewer is already intimately familiar with Goku, Vegeta and the rest of the Z cast. Newbies to DragonBall Z will definitely want to sit this one out. I'm no seasoned veteran myself, and I found myself totally lost as to the motivations of some of the characters. Vegeta, for example, claims to be the ‘Prince of all Saiyans’ but spends the entire movie whining about how he shouldn't have to help Goku, only reluctantly helps fight Broly at the last possible second, doesn't bother protecting his own son, etcetera and so on. The character is so completely unsympathetic (even moreso than usual for his character), he may as well be a villain. They say the mark of a good series movie is if someone who's totally unfamiliar with the show can sit down and enjoy it. The plot isn't rocket science, but you apparently need a degree in DragonBall Z to figure out why some of these characters behave the way they do.
The dub is your average DragonBall Z dub. FUNimation's battle-worn English cast for this series knocks it out of the park in terms of catering to their audience, which is, of course, children. Overall, if you're already a huge DragonBall Z fan, you'll probably find something to like about this movie, even if it does seem to come up short in terms of story and character development (which are requirements for all good stories, regardless of context). Everyone else may want to either start from the beginning of the series and work their way down to this film, or perhaps find something a little less skeletal in terms of story depth.
Overall (dub) : C
Overall (sub) : C
Story : C
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : D
+ Big fun for longtime DBZ fans. Quality animation.
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