Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2019) Review: An Aquired Acid Trip
If you were a certain age, specifically 8, growing up at a certain time, specifically the late 90s to the early 2000s, there was one show you were unable to escape. Dragon Ball Z. The show that chronicled the adventures of Goku, a protagonist who is equal parts Superman, and Jesus all mixed into one spiky haired strong man. Sent to earth to avoid being hunted down by his planet’s authorities, Goku remains one of the only survivors of his race, the Saiyans. For years, Goku reigned as the strongest there was. That is of course, until the subject of this new film arrived: Broly.
Those unfamiliar with the mythos can relax. ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly’ does a reasonable job with catching you up to speed on the two characters you’ll be following the most. Goku and Broly. The first 20 minutes is devoted to what began their stories. Broly being marooned as a child on a volatile planet where the only source of sustenance is a viscous yellow liquid, and Goku having been sent to earth with the love of his friends and family. It’s a retelling of the Charles Dickens classic ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ if instead of the French Revolution, it centred on two super aliens throwing each other into mountains.
After that 20 minute grace period, the film essentially throws you in the deep end and hopes you can swim. There’s a quick montage of 20 years worth of Dragon Ball Z stories, and then you watch as Goku interacts with an 11 foot tall blue man(?), a human sized purple Egyptian cat who is known as a “God of Destruction”, then goes off to find the seventh dragon ball, which, if collected with the other six, will summon the mystical dragon Shenron to grant the collector one wish.
On the one hand, I have to admire the filmmakers complete diregard for the general audience. On the other, it’s like taking an acid trip through the mind of a hyperthinking child. The shift in the landscape of what was and what wasn’t on the table for the movie was jarring to say the least, especially after what was a reasonably understandable first 20 minutes. Viewers will be blameless if they’re lost by the film after this point. Fortunately, if you do manage to stick with it, it rewards you for the struggle.
That reward comes in the form of superbly animated, extremely stylish fight sequences. ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly’ is essentially a versus movie for Gods. One who is trying to find his place in a world that moved on without him, and the other who has to be the strongest there is for the good of the universe. And his ego. That’s not bad as far as character clashes go, and it speaks to the real meat of the movie. As much as I enjoyed it, I will admit that after a while you do wonder just how long the fight will go on for. It’s hard to maintain stakes in a fight where the two opponents are more or less limitless. It’s like watching one kid say he has infinity money but then the other one say he has infinity and one. And so on.
Ridiculous as it is, ‘Dragon Ball Super Broly’ is an entertaining and engaging film. There are several moments that feel very much like a children’s tv show, especially in the exposition laden dialogue. But the movie is surprisingly self aware and has very strong moments of character that can be appreciated even from a newcomer’s perspective. The animation is slick when it needs to be, albeit a little choppy when it doesn’t. All that matters really is the fighting, which at the end of the day, was more than solid entertainment.
Rating: half Price