Goku is about to enter a new level of power.
If you’re a fan of Dragon Ball Z then you will probably be familiar with its formulaic narrative: a new form (or fusion) is often the answer to an overpowering enemy. There is a brief moment of self-awareness when the movie acknowledges this as it recounts the victories of Goku. This movie delivers us that formula, but with a take that is both fresh and unique. Battle of Gods reignites the franchise. It is an exciting and light-hearted movie, and an unmissable opportunity for the fans.
Beerus the God of Destruction has awoken from his four decadal slumber. After learning of Frieza’s death he travels to Earth in search of an arch-rival prophesised to appear: the legendary Super Saiyan God.
The movie opens with a brief recap of past events, capturing the development of Goku (Sean Schemmel) throughout the series. It is reminiscent of the flashbacks that commonly preceded a Dragon Ball Z episode. The narrator states: “Time after time, new enemies arose, redefining the meaning of strength. Yet Goku always answered the call. He became a Super Saiyan.” Indirectly, the movie tells us the movie is about Goku while foreshadowing a new transformation.
The story begins with the awakening of Beerus, whose presence, as the title implies, bodes destruction on the universe. The Kai’s, essentially the binary opposites of Beerus, are troubled by this, even more so by the idea of him meeting Goku. This is the premise of the movie’s conflict: when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.
But the naivety of Goku is revealed rather humorously in his nonchalant response to their panicking. The prospect of fighting Beerus excites him.
Unfortunately, for the Kai’s, the temperamental Beerus shares the want for challenge. In fact, it was the reason for his awakening. He seeks to fulfil a prophecy of battling Goku whom he believes to be a god. Beerus is also accompanied by his humorous attendant Whis. The two begin their travels across the universe in search of their god. It is, however, when the two finally meet. Beerus is disappointed to learn, after an easy victory, that the prophecy may have been incorrect about Goku. But he is not done is his mission and assumes Earth may hold the answer he needs.
Though the movie is over 140 minutes, the time didn’t feel wasted. The same can’t be said for the characters. There are characters I felt deserved a bigger role. An example would be the Supreme Kai’s. Despite their significance to the mythos, they only have a few scenes which is only used to deliver a small piece of exposition and push the story a little. It seems like their potential is wasted. There is a scene where the characters learn the origin of the Super Saiyan God. I would have preferred this information to have come from them.
There is a minor arc with Emperor Pilaf and gang who are up to no good again. Though they provide comedic value to the story, they don’t offer much else besides a piece of exposition which could have been delivered through any of the main characters. Instead its delivery is contrived for plot convenience. Their presence in the film seems unnecessary.
The character of Whis is also underdeveloped, even more so than Beerus. He spends most his time satisfying his appetite alongside Beerus. Whereas Beerus at least undergoes some form of development. Whis remains in stasis. This is a waste of his potential considering his importance to the story. The same can be said for Beerus who spends a large portion of the film inactive.
The film does utilise humour to good effect. Character personalities are often exaggerated for laughs producing many wacky and slapstick moments. This includes falling over, anguished and prolonged screaming, slaps and flamboyant stances. Maser Roshi’s pervert gimmick will never tire. There is also humour between Beerus and Whis as they often antagonist and goad each other.
To present the antagonist in such a comedic light contributes to the reinventing of the Dragon Ball formula. Beerus is different from previous villains. Dangerous? Yes, he’s essentially a time bomb ready to destroy a galaxy or two for the most frivolous reason. But he isn’t characterised as an evil monster bent on revenge or world domination. The movie even acknowledges this. He’s a necessity.
The plot is fairly simple and almost entirely character-driven. The formula used on Goku is also echoed in Vegeta, keeping their rivalry alive. But its execution is rather inconsistent with the mythos and comes across as a plot device.
The fight scenes were enjoyable particularly the final battle between Goku and Beerus. Goku’s transformation into a Super Saiyan while the song Hero by Flow played was the easily the spotlight scene. Sean really gave us a brilliant performance, capturing Goku’s innocence and righteous anger.
Overall I have good esteem for this movie and I think it would be an exciting addition to one’s collection.