The first fifteen minutes of this film burst with so much uncharacteristic story for this series that it’s somewhat electrifying. It zips along with purpose and story to tell beyond incessant power-level-raising and clobbering.
The opening prologue very naturally and organically finds the seeds of good storytelling in old lore to retell a subjugation and Moses narrative in a way that feels earned and meaningful. The Saiyans and their culture is fleshed out thoroughly, protagonist Goku’s family gets a compelling story before being conclusively removed from the narrative, and an old villain that felt so lifeless and used-up in the previous movie is made fascinating and worthy of hatred again after further characterisation and backstory brought to life around them.
The titular character is bought to life gently, an antagonist certainly but hardly a villain. More new characters populate the film, helping distinguish it from the repetitive diminishing returns of its predecessors. Everything feels so much more considered and cinematic. The characters are more layered, the worldbuilding is more fleshed out, the plot has movement to it, and the stakes are actually tangible. It’s basically as perfect as a current movie in this franchise could possibly be. Thrilling and most enjoyable. Three escape pods and a giant cat-worm.