In “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F,” the latest feature in the long-running anime franchise, the runty sycophant Sorbet revives the shredded super-villain Frieza, with a little help from the magical dragon Shenlong, thereby enabling Frieza to seek revenge on the Saiyan warriors Goku and Vegeta, who must heed the wise words of Beerus, the feline god of destruction, and Whis, martial artist extraordinaire, to save Earth from destruction. If any of that makes any sense to you, consider yourself among the many “Dragon Ball Z” aficionados likely to be amused and excited by this fantastical feature, which should have a long life in various platforms after its fleeting (yet profitable) run in North American theaters. But if you’re thoroughly befuddled by that plot precis — well, the movie itself won’t provide much enlightenment.
A strictly members-only entertainment for a dedicated target audience, “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’” will impress the uninitiated as very loud and very colorful, but not nearly fast-paced enough. Director Tadayoshi Yamamuro, working from a script by franchise creator Akira Toriyama, devotes an unconscionable amount of time on expository scenes that appear to exist solely for cameo appearances by personages that evidently loomed larger in previous “Dragon Ball Z” adventures. And the many battles that lead up to the main event are so repetitious, you may suspect you’re seeing the same handful of dust-ups in a continuous loop.
Worse, the climactic smackdown between good and evil seems to go on for days, despite some welcome moments of comic relief provided by the haughty and hungry Beerus and Whis. (Come to think of it, the latter character’s name is good for a few laughs, or at least some Beavis-and-Butthead-style snickers.) And the last-minute twist involving time tripping is a textbook example of an anticlimax.
In the interest of full disclosure, however, it must be noted that most other folks in the relatively sparse but vocally enthusiastic audience of the midweek screening attended obviously had a higher opinion of what transpired onscreen. Of course, some of these folks — and their parents — were decked out in “Dragon Ball Z” T-shirts, and brandished stuffed-doll versions of franchise characters, so perhaps they were not the most impartial of observers. Still, it was easy to share in the general laughter during a few random moments, especially when, after Frieza furiously annihilates soldiers who have displeased him, another character remarks: “Gee, I’m glad I don’t work for him.”
Another comic highlight: Shenlong, affronted by someone’s impudence, sternly warns: “It’s unwise to be rude to a dragon.” That might not sound terribly funny out of context. But in “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F,’” it’s the equivalent of an Oscar Wilde witticism, or a Neil Simon one-liner.