×

Film Review: ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly’

The latest anime feature in the decades-old franchise is strictly for diehard fans.

Director:
Tatsuya Nagamine
With:
Voices: Sean Schemmel, Christopher Sabat, Vic Mignogna, Christopher Ayres, Sonny Strait, Jason Douglas, Ian Sinclair.
Release Date:
Jan 16, 2019

Rated PG  1 hour 41 minutes

Late in “Dragon Ball Super: Broly,” the 20th Japanese anime feature in a 35-year-old franchise that also has spawned scads of TV series, trading cards, video games, mangas, and limited-edition collectibles, a supporting character complains, “I don’t understand a single thing you’ve said the whole time.”

If you’re among the heretofore uninitiated drawn to this new Dragon Ball extravaganza, which has been dubbed into English and booked into 1,440 North American theaters, you may often find yourself experiencing similar frustration as you struggle to make sense of a patchwork plot that seems derived from various strands of the ongoing mythos, and is filled with apparently major characters whose backstories are only fuzzily defined.

On the other hand, the impressive opening-day box office — more than $7 million on Weds., Jan. 16 — for “Dragon Ball Super: Broly” indicate that, if this is indeed strictly a members-only attraction, well, anticipation must have been strong among the initiated to compel that kind of turnout on day one. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

Scripted by series creator Akira Toriyama and direced by Tatsuya Nagamine (a veteran of the “Dragon Ball Super” TV show), this latest movie begins as the evil Frieza — introduced here as an undisciplined adolescent who takes over the family business of intergalactic tyranny — destroys the planet Vegeta because its inhabitants, known as Saiyans, might pose a future threat. Broly, a Saiyan infant with super-warrior potential, gets away before the big bang, and spends his formative years with his father on a desolate planet called Vampa. During this period, two other young Saiyan refugees — Goku, hero of the “Dragon Ball” franchise, and Vegeta, a prince from the destroyed planet — survive and thrive on Earth, where they spend most of their time training to become champions by kicking each other’s butts with frat-boy exuberance.

Goku and Broly wind up facing off in Antarctica, in a numbingly repetitious smackdown (involving fierce punches, vicious kicks, fiery power blasts and cacophonous grunts) that takes up nearly a third of the movie. During the early stages of this battle royale, the retro look of the conspicuously under-animated visuals — which have been deliberately stylized to mimic the property’s magna roots — has an undeniable nostalgic appeal. But that’s not nearly enough to keep things interesting.

It comes as a relief when the overmatched Goku joins Vegeta in a “fusion dance” (no, really) that combines the two of them into a single entity named Gogeta, so that all the sound and fury actually can be brought to a quietus.

Not surprisingly, no one of any real importance dies during the course of “Dragon Ball Super: Broly,” thereby guaranteeing the franchise can continue apace. Indeed, the final scenes are so obviously open-ended, and fraught with promises of things to come, that the filmmakers might as well have concluded with a title card: “Stay tuned for our next exciting episode.”

Popular on Variety

Film Review: ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly’

Reviewed online, Houston, Jan. 18, 2019. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 101 MIN. (Original title: “Doragon Bōru Sūpā: Burorī”)

Production: (Animated — Japan) A Funimation Entertainment release (in U.S.) of a Toei Entertainment production, in association with Fox Intl. Prods. Producers: Norihiro Hayashida, Rioko Tomonaga. Executive producers: Kozo Morishita, Akio Iyoku.

Crew: Director: Tatsuya Nagamine. Animation director: Naohiro Shintani. Screenplay: Akira Toriyama, based on characters created by Toriyama. Camera (color): Yosuke Motoki. Editor: Masahiro Goto. Music: Norihito Sumitomo.

With: Voices: Sean Schemmel, Christopher Sabat, Vic Mignogna, Christopher Ayres, Sonny Strait, Jason Douglas, Ian Sinclair.

More Film

  • A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

    Film Review: 'A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon'

    No asteroids are hurtling toward Earth in “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon,” though a flying frozen pizza does softly slice the top off an elderly shopper’s hairdo: That’s roughly the level of quirky peril we’re talking about in the latest outing from Aardman Animations, and as usual, the British stop-motion masters cheerfully prove that [...]

  • Slam

    Film Review: ‘Slam’

    The disappearance of a fearless female Palestinian-Australian slam poet triggers suspense and powerful social and political commentary in “Slam,” an outstanding slow-burn thriller by expat Indian filmmaker Partho Sen-Gupta (“Sunrise”). Starring Palestinian actor Adam Bakri (“Omar,” “Official Secrets”) as the missing woman’s conflicted brother, and leading Aussie performer Rachael Blake as a troubled cop, Opening [...]

  • Igo Kantor

    Igo Kantor, Producer and Post-Production Executive, Dies at 89

    Igo Kantor, whose Hollywood career took him from Howard Hughes’ projection room to supervising post-production on “Easy Rider” and producing B-movies like “Kingdom of the Spiders” and “Mutant,” died Oct. 15. He was 89. Kantor, who was born in Vienna and raised in Lisbon, met “Dillinger” director Max Nosseck on the ship to New York. [...]

  • The Lion King

    Average Movie Ticket Price Falls 4% in Third Quarter of 2019

    Average ticket prices for the third quarter have dropped 4% to $8.93, down from Q2’s $9.26, the National Association of Theatre Owners announced today. However, compared with the third quarter of 2018, ticket price has risen 1.1% from $8.83. The summer box office is down 2.13% from 2018, though the third quarter box office is [...]

  • Tilda Swinton to Preside Over The

    Tilda Swinton to Preside Over Marrakech Film Festival

    Tilda Swinton, the iconoclastic British actress and producer, is set to preside over the 18th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival, succeeding to American director James Gray. Swinton, who won an Oscar and a BAFTA award for best supporting actress for “Michael Clayton,” has been leading an eclectic acting career. She has collaborated with [...]

  • The King Netflix

    Middleburg Film Festival Brings Hollywood to Virginia

    For the last seven years, audiences have flocked to the Middleburg Film Festival. Running October 17th – 21st, and situated in the wine-country hills of historic Middleburg, Virg., the festival usually highlights some of the year’s buzziest titles, and 2019 is no exception. “We’re a smaller festival with fewer overall screenings than other events, so we [...]

  • Kelly McCormick and David Leitch'Fast &

    'Wheelman' Director to Helm 'Versus' From David Leitch, Kelly McCormick (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Wheelman” director Jeremy Rush is in negotiations to helm the action movie “Versus,” with Kelly McCormick and David Leitch producing. Rush will direct the Universal movie from a script penned by “Three Musketeers” scribe Alex Litvak and “American Assassin” writer Mike Finch. Plot details are being kept under wraps, though it will follow the genre [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content