Dragon Ball Super: Broly Review

Richard Petro

twitter @ThePetroProject

January 22, 2019

     It’s been a long wait but Dragon Ball Super: Broly has finally come our way.
     When it was first announced that the next Dragon Ball film would be bringing back (and making canon) Broly, I felt of two minds about it. A part of me wasn’t very excited, as I felt the character was very bland with no personality, and coming off more like a Gary Stu than anything else. On the other hand, though, seeds were sown for what the character could be, and should have been. I always felt that the initial film appearance of Broly was a missed opportunity, and there was enough there to brew up some ideas about how to make him an interesting character with an interesting story. The trailers that were released were fantastic, showing that the film was going to build on more than simply the character of Broly and his father, Paragus, but also some backstory involving Frieza and the Saiyans. With excitement levels at a high, how did the movie itself turn out?

     Dragon Ball Super: Broly is, to cut right to the chase, a phenomenal addition to the legacy that is Dragon Ball. The choices made here are all interesting and expand upon things in ways that I don’t think many really may have expected. Akira Toriyama himself came onboard to handle the writing, and his take on Broly is fantastic. I wanted to build to it, discussing some other aspects first, but the main draw for this film has always been the title character. All of my hopes for what the film may do were given to me, with Broly himself becoming not just a very likable character, but one that has enormous amounts of depth. There are some very real, depressing things here that fill in his backstory, making him incredibly believable and, honestly, a very sympathetic character.
     The themes and issues that the character and film explore are ones that I’m not sure many thought we would get, at least not at this level.

     The film begins in a prologue to events, with Planet Vegeta still in existence as a young Frieza is put in charge by his father. Soon enough, King Vegeta learns of baby Broly’s existence and, jealous that the child has a higher power level than his own son, gives a very valid reason for launching him into exile; his power level is so great, that there is a chance he may not be able to control it and doom those around him. His father, Paragus, does not take to this too well and takes off after his son’s capsule to rescue him.
     Fast forward 40 years, with Goku and Vegeta on the hunt for the Dragon Balls, knowing Frieza’s men are looking for the final one in Antarctica. Meanwhile, two of Frieza’s recruits, Cheelai and Lemo, end up discovering Broly and his father and take him back to Frieza, who is interested in the power showcased by the younger Saiyan and reveals that King Vegeta’s son is still alive, so Paragus may still take his revenge. The group arrive on Earth, and the Saiyans all meet…

     That’s a very condensed version of the on-goings, as I didn’t want to get too much into it. While there aren’t necessarily a massive amount of surprises and turns within, this is a Dragon Ball film built solely on its storytelling. The way that Broly is developed is superb, and he has many great character moments that lend towards the tension of the proceedings. In a film that has a God of Destruction on the same planet that could easily take out the threat, one may wonder where any tension may come from, but it is very obviously in the fact that we don’t know what’s going to happen to these characters, and we don’t want anything to happen to them, especially Broly with what we learn and see him go through.
     The relationship between Broly and Paragus is also incredibly well built, with the choices Paragus makes being very understandable. Paragus himself is a deep character, without his feelings towards King Vegeta not being the only importance to him. With Broly and Paragus’ characters being developed the way they are is what leads to a lot of good, deep conversations about the events presented, mostly about parenting and the issues Broly himself exhibits, as he is simply a character that suffers from some numerous side effects.
     Most importantly, the film very much keeps Broly as the real main character here. This is rightly his film and his arc, and in turn it becomes one of the best that the series has seen.

     Broly and Paragus aren’t the only great characters here, as the Frieza recruits Cheelai and Lemo may be some of the best new characters introduced to the series in a very long time. Lemo is hilarious with his aged, been-doing-this-for-far-too-long attitude, but Cheelai is, rightly, the one that really ends up being the main supporting character here. Her sympathy for Broly is believable, seeing that he is mainly a victim of circumstance and unfair treatment, wanting to genuinely help him escape the situation he is in. She’s incredibly sweet and kind, but also hilarious and spunky, her attitude and personality going a great way in not just building her as a great character, but being a good enough character that she doesn’t get lost in the background of Broly, Paragus, the usual characters, and the fighting set pieces.

     Cheelai has a lot of great moments that are not only sweet but hilarious as well, with the film being a lot funnier than I think many may have expected. But the real MVP in terms of supporting characters here may very well be Frieza. Frieza, like almost always, is incredible here.
     He not only is the reason for some of the funniest moments in the entire runtime, but he is also given some fantastic character development in touches over the course of the film, with his plans for the Dragonballs being one of the greatest, funniest moments in the series as a whole. He is incredibly egotistical and deliciously snarky, which is Frieza at his best. If there’s any reason to go into the movie cold and being surprised, it may possibly be for his moments alone, with the best one being towards the climax.

     And the climax. Oh boy the climax. The fight sequences in this film are simply spectacular. There’s a moment after the initial prologue section of the film where we see Goku and Vegeta training/sparring for fun that alone is incredibly beautiful and wonderfully choreographed. The film only keeps getting better and better from there. Once Broly is unleashed, it is one masterfully made and executed set piece after another, culminating in a moment between the two strongest individuals in battle that must be seen.

     There’s a lot to discuss about Dragon Ball Super: Broly amongst fans, and all of it great. I can’t see anyone who is a fan of the franchise coming away disappointed. It is beautiful to look at, incredibly well written, fantastically choreographed with some of the best action we have seen from the series, and filled with some great humour and touching moments. It does feel like it is a new high for the series, with the issues and themes it tackles being very serious and deep, and it does so successfully. The character work presented and the changes/expansions to the backstory are all interesting ideas that work, going so far as to touch on something like the Saiyans acquisition of scouters. I hope someday we’ll be able to have a longer discussion video about it, as there is a lot I still haven’t talked about even in a non-spoiler review, but the only thing I can say now is that this is worth every minute we’ve waited for, and if the series continues to grow and explore stories in this way, we have many more incredible works ahead.