Reviewby Luke Carroll,
Dragon Ball Z Remastered Movie Collection V01
DVD - Dead Zone/World's Strongest
The first two DBZ movies remastered!
The Dead Zone - Gohan has been kidnapped! To make matters worse, the evil Garlic Jr. is gathering the Dragonballs to wish for immortality. Only then will Garlic Jr. be able to take over the Earth in order to gain revenge for the death of his father. Goku rushes to save Gohan, but arrives at the fortress just as Garlic Jr. summons the Eternal Dragon! Krillin and Piccolo try to help Goku, but their combined powers are no match for Garlic Jr., who creates a "Dead Zone" to suck the heroes into oblivion! Suddenly, Goku begins to show his hidden power, but will it be enough?
The World's Strongest - The sinister Dr. Wheelo has been freed from his icy tomb! With his dedicated and devious assistant Dr. Kochin, these mad scientists are plotting to unleash their fearsome biotechnology and take over the world! Of course there's one hitch in the plan... Dr. Wheelo exists only as a brain in a jar! The evil doctor must seek out a body on Earth that is as strong as his mind is amazing! Dr. Kochin and his android henchmen kidnap Piccolo and Master Roshi to determine who is the most powerful fighter on Earth! Goku, Gohan and Krillin rush into action to save their friends, but Dr. Wheelo's minions are more than a match for them in battle. It looks grim when Piccolo falls under the disembodied villain's control, and Wheelo's next target for mental domination? Goku! Will our heroes keep their wits about them long enough to be victorious or will they lose their minds?
Back in a simpler time when the only worry in my life was about having my homework done the next day, I loved two things more than anything else- the local fish and chips and Dragon Ball Z. Every morning would begin with me plonking in front of the television screen awaiting the next new episode, and every night would end with me searching the internet for as much information as I could on Goku and co. Like many kids, I bought into the card game, I bought the movies as soon as they would come out, and I would constantly wish that my Ki would one day form into a balls on my hand. As time went on however, and the series was repeated for the umpteenth time in preparation of the newest season to be shown, I began to lose interest. Not only were there other anime titles that began to catch my eye, but they made Dragon Ball Z look outdated. Funimation eventually realised this, and to the excitement and outcry from fans, decided to go back to their original prints and remaster the once loved show in a bid to bring it into the 21st century. With the new look series already seeing its sixth season being released onto shelves, the focus has finally been given to the classic movies. But does this remaster really warrant a new purchase?
For those who have yet to see the movies, The Dead Zone is a 40 minute long action romp focusing itself Garlic Jr. and his desire for immortality using the Dragon Balls. After defeating Piccolo and kidnapping Gohan, Garlic Jr. amasses the rest of the Dragon Balls quickly and soon grants himself immortality. With the doom of the planet seeming imminent, Goku steps onto the scene with his eyes set on getting Gohan back, but instead is drawn into fighting Garlic Jr.'s minions and with the aid of Krillin and Piccolo, fighting Garlic Jr. himself. With immortality on his side though, Garlic Jr. isn't planning on going down without a fight.
The World's Strongest follows very much the same plot outline as the first film. Running in at just under and hour, we are first introduced to Gohan and Oolong in the mountains tracking down a mysterious figure collecting the Dragon Balls. They arrive too late however as this mysterious figure, revealed later as Dr. Kochin makes the wish of bringing his mentor Dr.Wheelo back from his icy prison. Following his freedom, the pair set on finding the world's strongest fighter for Dr. Wheelo to take control of, as the accident he was in prior had left him with only a brain. After coaxing Master Roshi to visit the pair, they soon learn that he is no longer the strongest fighter on the planet, and that Goku has now taken the title. Luckily Goku is already on his way to see the doctors, completely unaware that he is about to face the fight of his life, literally.
As I mentioned in the first paragraph, Funimation's remastering was met with much excitement and outcry from fans. The aging Dragon Ball Z was finally going to get a face lift, but instead of simply cleaning up and improving the images, Funimation decided to crop the top and bottom portions of the show to bring it to a 16:9 widescreen ratio. Claiming that this was 'the way it was meant to be seen' only served to anger those who knew the show was originally made and intended to be viewed at a 4:3 fullscreen ratio. The movies however are a slightly different case entirely. They were made in 4:3 fullscreen at first, but were designed to be seen and released in Japanese cinemas as 16:9 widescreen, utilizing black bars to cover the top and bottom of the images. What this has meant basically is that Funimation's remaster is merely recreating what the Japanese saw in cinemas rather than cropping out original material that was 'meant to be seen'.
In saying that however, how does it actually look? Well for someone who has grown up with the original fullscreen releases, this remaster is certainly a breath of fresh air. The colours are more vibrant than they have ever been and much of the grain has cleared up. The aforementioned cropping also becomes a thing of the past after a few minutes. That said though, the age of these two movies still manages to show through at times, and there are a few instances where the remastering process really hasn't cleaned up a scene as well the others. Overall though, the remaster certainly brings a fresh coat of paint to the aging movies and once you get over the lack of fullscreen it'll be hard to go back to your old discs again.
On the audio side of things, we are treated to no less than three choices between the films. The first being a 5.1 English dub with Japanese music, the second is the same 5.1 English dub but with US music, and finally the third is the original Japanese mono track. As expected, the two English tracks come across as quite well done, with clear voices and good use of directionality throughout the films. The Japanese mono track on the other hand comes across as quite muffled in comparison, surprisingly sounding worse most of the time than what was included in the original releases of these films. Another interesting thing to note is that in the English 5.1 with Japanese music track, both the opening song and Gohan's insert song have not been included in either film despite them clearly being present on the Japanese mono track. It's quite a surprise considering the Japanese ending theme managed to make it across both films unscathed.
With the original voice work of these films having been done by the Ocean Group, Funimation have seen fit to go back and bring some continuity to the sets by redubbing them over with the more commonly heard cast lead by the one and only Sean Schemmel. As you would expect the English work is of very much the same caliber we've become used to over the years, so those who have enjoyed the English cast of late will be right at home with this release. The translation job does manage to become quite loose at times though, but it rarely treads far enough off the beaten track to lose the overall meaning. If you're one who enjoys the Dragon Ball Z dub of late, then this effort will please you immensely.
Sadly the same cannot be said for the extras, which are a little on the slim side unfortunately. Included on the disc is a handful of Madman trailers as well as a commentary track for the first movie conducted by director Chris Cason and actor Chuck Huber who does the voice for Garlic Jr. It is worth noting however that the US release included not only the exact same extras content that we received, but that Madman managed to conveniently fit both the movies onto a single disc rather than splitting it onto two dvds which is what occurred in the US.
As a big Dragon Ball Z fan of old, you can say I was a little skeptical going into watching this dvd. Having grown up with the old fullscreen releases, the prospect of seeing these movies remastered and cropped to widescreen certainly had me more than a little worried at first. It's not exactly all too often you get to see one of your favourite shows brought back to life with such a different face. So is this release worth it for fans? Well if you were lucky enough to own the last uncut releases of these movies (with remastered fullscreen footage), then there really is no need to upgrade; however if you're in the boat of wanting a much crisper copy and can stand not having it in fullscreen, then this release is certainly something to look into.
©2008 BIRD STUDIO/SHUEISHA, TOEI ANIMATION. Tree of Might Film © 1990 TOEI ANIMATION CO., LTD. Lord Slug Film Film © 1991 TOEI ANIMATION CO., LTD. Licensed by FUNimation® Productions, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : C
Story : C
Animation : C+
Art : B
Music : C+
+ The movies never looked this nice, Decent action scenes
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