Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods (2013)

The issue in these sorts of franchised based on power levels and combat is there comes a point where stakes basically become irrelevant because characters become too powerful. Characters like Superman have enough trouble with their awesome power short-circuiting how many narratives can be told with them, and they have their own hills to climb with narrative handicaps and layered characterisation needed to keep things interesting. A franchise like Dragon Ball struggles more, because multiple characters have such high power levels. Conflicts become restricted to a kind of lockstep where things have to be proportionally raised, then basically fought out in the same way.

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“Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods” entertains in spite of that because it focuses on fanservice and humour. The plot is light and the stakes never really even pushed as serious. The film seems more concerned with the odd inventive visual (the external road across the heavenly planet with pink sky in the opening is lovely and striking), endearing character beats (particularly with the families of the main fighter characters), and prissy humour with its antagonist and his henchmen. It feels more like a love letter to the franchise and its fans than an attempt at seriously trying to “raise the stakes”. The direction was wise and considered in that way. Some of the more infantile humour in the director’s cut dragged on, a shame considering the thing pulses along nicely otherwise, but apart from that the film feels quite pleasantly unified in intent. Two and a half dragonballs, and a god of destruction.

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