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Movie Review: 'Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods' Packs Just Enough Punch

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Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods

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Dragon Ball Z is one of those things I was into a long time ago, roughly around the time of the last feature film seventeen years ago. It's easy to see why so many love it. The animated series is just as goofy as it is battle-heavy and power-obsessed, starring a large cast of colorful spiky-haired characters with names that sound like they should belong to Monchichis. I didn't so much grow out of it as grow tired of the "powerful bad guy shows up, Goku grows in strength to beat him" formula. The new film Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods doesn't stray from the script too much, but fans looking for the silly fun and epic planet-destroying fights they are accustomed to will walk away happy.

This is undoubtedly the weirdest Dragon Ball Z story I've ever seen and that's really saying something. The emphasis is clearly on comedy this time around, even the bad guy isn't necessarily someone you want to see defeated. The all-powerful Super Saiyan named Goku is at the center of everything, as usual, and he's in search of a fight to really test his amped up power levels. Fortunately he finds a willing opponent in Beerus, the feline cat god of destruction. Yeah, you read that right: the feline cat god of destruction. Beerus is the most powerful fighter in the universe, capable of blowing up planets with a mere gesture...but somehow he manages to still be kind of likeable. Maybe it's how he attends Bulma's birthday party and eats up all the food, marveling at every delicacy. Or maybe it's how everyone humiliates themselves to keep him happy enough to not blow up the Earth. Even the mighty and arrogant Vegeta is forced to embarrass himself (think showtunes) to stay on Beerus' good side.

And that's really the bulk of a pretty nebulous story that doesn't seem to be about anything but goofing off with these characters. There's a silly subplot involving poor Emperor Pilaf, he and his companions reduced to children, and their fruitless quest to attain the wish-granting dragon balls. Piccolo, Trunks (whose hormones are raging apparently), Shenlong, and nearly every minor (read: unimportant) Dragon Ball character makes an appearance mostly in humorous roles, and whether you find it funny will probably depend on your familiarity with the series. But when the cherubic Majin Boo refuses to share his pudding with Beerus, well then it's Earth that has to pay the price. Told you this stuff

Who would have thought that pudding would be the cause of the Earth's destruction? It's the cherubic Majin Boo who puts the world in jeopardy by refusing to share his pudding with Beerus. To save it, Goku must prove he's got the power of a Super Saiyan God in order to give Beerus his first real test. From Super Saiyan 1, 2, and 3 to turning into giant apes, there have been so many transformations Goku has undergone that it's hard to keep track. And really, none of them make a whole lot of sense. This is just the case of Goku needing to power up yet another level to win a battle, and at some point it loses meaning. What's interesting in this case is Beerus, who is legitimately beyond anything Goku has ever faced before, and without giving anything away it's safe to say no Saiyan has faced anything like him. Akira Toriyama created Beerus specifically for this film and he's probably the most unique character introduced into Dragon Ball in quite some time. Even the animation, a kinetic mix of 2D and CGI technology, is an exciting twist on what we're used to seeing and it gives all of the epic battles a little extra pop.

If you don't know a Chaozu from a Chi-Chi then this movie probably wasn't on your radar, anyway. Dragon Ball Z fans will find 'Battle of Gods' has leveled-up visuals and enough humor to pack the punch they're looking for.

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods is having one final showing tonight, August 11th, at the Angelika Mosaic and Angelika Pop-Up.

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