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Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of Gods (2013)

Comebacks after a long absence can be tricky. Get it right and you can satisfy fans old and new, but get it wrong and you can end up pleasing no-one. Battle Of Gods saw Goku and the Z Warriors return in their first new adventure in seventeen years. So, was it worth the wait?

Some time after the events of the Buu Saga, the galaxy is seemingly at peace. Until that is, an all-powerful God Of Destruction by the name of Beerus awakens. Hearing tales of Freiza's defeat at the hands of Goku, he sets off to track him down, and the whole world is in peril once again.

Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of Gods was the first of the new Dragon Ball saga that continued in Dragon Ball Super. It arrived in Japanese cinemas in 2013 and was produced by Toei Animation. It was directed by Masahiro Hosoda and based on a story from original creator Akira Toriyama (who also co-wrote the screenplay).

Introducing a new character like Beerus, and giving him quite so much screen time could so easily have backfired. Luckily, the cat-like creature is a fine addition to the Dragon Ball universe, who fits in perfectly. While a considerable threat, he's also a great deal of fun, with the banter with his servant/teacher Whis being a particular highlight.

Also new is the animation. Technology has come a long way in seventeen years, so this movie has received a definite visual upgrade. Still recognisably the same style but with a lot more polish- as befitting a theatrical production. With the possible exception of some occasionally ill-blended 3D CG, Dragon Ball has never looked better. Definitely go for the Blu-ray version if you can.

The film's master-stroke may be combining the epic planet-threatening storyline with something much more character-based and down-to-earth. The arrival of Beerus coincides with Bulma's birthday party, giving a perfect excuse for all the characters you love to get together. Fans will get a kick out of getting another chance to catch up with their favourites. Even Emperor Pilaf and his minions (from Original Dragon Ball) get in on the fun.

The movie is also full of the series' trademark humour. There's plenty of laugh-out-loud stuff here, and the English language script from Funimation is easily among the best they've produced.

This is all without even mentioning the franchise's most famous element- the action. Frankly, great as the rest of the movie may be, all this would mean little if this latest outing whimped out in the action department. No need to worry though- Battle of Gods delivers in spades. Thanks to the introduction of a new Saiyan God level Goku unlocks, this offers perhaps the most spectacular action in the whole franchise.

The movie is a perfect blend of the new with the old DBZ you know so well. Essentially, this plays out as a loving tribute to the whole franchise from beginning to end. It even kicks off with a retelling of the events of the whole Dragon Ball saga (with the exception of GT), recreated with modern animation. Even the end credits are perfectly judged, accompanied with scenes from the original manga.

Battle Of Gods recalls the best of the franchise, while also setting up a new era for the Dragon Ball Universe. An absolute must for any Dragon Ball fan!


IN A NUTSHELL:  Battle Of Gods is everything you could have hoped for- and more. Other franchises take note: this is how you do true fan service.