After 30 years of universe building, Dragon Ball has a bit of a conundrum. Creators and fans alike love paying homage to the series' long and complex history, but from its inception, Akira Toriyama's world has always been all about forward momentum
With each new storyline, the world view expands, and almost invariably (forgetting, as most of us are wont to do) a new foe is introduced, one that proves to be more powerful than anyone ever imaged.
And with ever grander villains, once great heroes almost invariably discover that they're no match for cosmic world destroyers, leaving them as little more than helpless bystanders.
In a sense Resurrection 'F' attempts to play both sides of the aisle, bolstering the powers of full-blooded Saiyans Goku and Vegeta (really, the only heroes still capable of continuing to go head-to-head with the newest breed of cosmic riff-raff), while still parading a broad cross-section of familiar faces across the screen - beginning with that old standby, The Pilaf Gang, who help set the wheels of the story in motion.
For those wondering how the series would top a villain like Beerus, the God of Destruction, the answer is that they haven't really - for now at least. Through their self-interested bumbling, Pilaf trio resurrects fan favorite Freiza, a long-running primary antagonist who has been out of commission for some time, on account of being banished to hell. By casting Freiza as the villain or the 19th animated Dragon Ball feature, the film presents a familiar return to form after the god battling antics of the last film.
It's a bit anticlimactic, in a sense, the Super Saiyan God-empowered, blue haired Goku and Vegeta doing battle with an old villain from way back when, but thankfully the filmmakers do an expert job building tension, all while bringing a slew of familiar faces back into the fray as Gohan, Piccolo, Kuririn, Master Roshi, Tien Shinhan and robotic sentinel Jaco do battle with a thousand or so of Freiza's matching minions.
It's one of the franchise's most spectacular scenes, a perfect showcase for both some old fighters who haven't had much in the way of screen time of late and the series' shiny shiny new animation. After the dust clears, Freiza naturally showcases his power without breaking a sweat.
From a sheer spectacle standpoint, the final battle is perhaps a touch anticlimactic - though the stakes are certainly higher as Goku and Vegeta take turns against Freiza. And while he's no God of Destruction, a few years in the underworld have certainly built up of their share of unresolved rage as the genocidal bad guy finds yet another level of transformation - a purple and gold affair that, at least for American comic fans, evokes cosmic destroyers like Thanos and Darkseid.
Resurrection 'F' is hardly the most epic of the series, but the film does an admirable job hitting all of the right notes - the character drama, the over-the-top dialog, the lighthearted moments, and, of course, the fights. So many glorious fights. The film is at once a love letter to longtime fans, while presenting a simple enough revenge plot and plenty of eye candy for the uninitiated.