By this stage I don’t think anyone’s expecting anything new from Dragonball. I don’t even think Dragonball has offered anything new to Dragonball. Though I have heard complaints to this very point; criticisms that either ignore or aren’t conscious of its narrative groundwork. As discussed in my Battle of the Gods review, Dragonball is foundationally about escalation and finding ways of seemingly, but not actually, reinventing such.
The Resurrection of Frieza is not a revisionism, even after twenty years, but it is everything you wanted.
(This movie only received a limited theatrical release, so I’m going to assume that most of the people who wanted to watch it already have.)
Dragonball Z had a more intense demeanour than its predecessor. The threats weren’t local, they were cataclysmic, and the circumstances more dire. There was little time for laughter. But if the two latest remodels have demonstrated anything, it’s that Dragonball is ready to take itself less seriously. Considering it’s often given a stigma of muttering cacophony, I count this new-found self-awareness as a very good thing, and not an unwanted deviation from idealised nostalgia. Such a long hiatus has evidently given Toriyama a slew of creativity and playfulness.
This may be because I watched Dragonball Z as a youngin, but I don’t remember it with such well-spoken wit. Twenty years of rest and reflection would give anyone new perspective, because The Resurrection of F has unexpectedly incisive insight into its characters that Dragonball sparsely observed. It has enough discernment to play with expectations and create a more intelligent Dragonball that enjoyably explores its world with hindsight, like its fans have been doing for the past two decades.
That’s probably also the reason it’s made of fan-service. Nigh all of it be action; it reawakens what is arguably the most favoured villain for a quasi fan-fiction battle, and gives Vegeta his coveted satisfaction. As petty as that may seem, it also happens to be very petty fun. Narrative pandering tends to be more understandable after this length of time.
Yes it is creatively conservative and catered to please, but while the journalist in me might plea for integrity, the DBZ junkie is completely satiated. Resurrection of ‘F’ so accurately provides what everyone wanted from a sequel movie that it’s hard to find criticisms that aren’t just ramblings from cinematic commentary. Bar Goku being taken out of by a wretched, scurvy ray gun, and by a henchman no less, there’s little fault to be found (at least by an impartial person).
The only thing to be had in the critics-fishing pond is the same dilemma all artists must wrestle with upon looking at their finished work; it could always be better.