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Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero Review – Wasted Potential

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I’ve been a fan of the Dragon Ball saga since the 90s when I was able to watch all the original series on Toonami (yes, that includes GT). Then when Super came out, I ended up binging and watching all three of his movies. So when the last one was announced, I was excited, especially when it turned out to be more of a Gohan and Piccolo movie than Goku and Vegeta like the last three movies. However, as this Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero review will show you, there’s a difference between setting a goal and achieving it.

Let’s start with a big question, that of the calendar. Because from what we’ve seen in the trailers, compared to what happens in the manga, it’s actually kind of hard to figure out where that is in the timeline. Then again, Dragon Ball Super loved its skipped timeline. We know this takes place after Broly, and Pan (Gohan and Videl’s daughter) is 3 and a half years old in the movie, so let’s just say it’s a year or two after the Broly movie, to OK ? We know this comes after Broly not just because of age, but because we see Broly training with Goku and Vegeta on Lord Beerus’ planet and we can see he’s not as wild as in his own movie, but he still has work to go. Honestly, as a big fan of the Broly movie (it’s the best of the lot in my opinion), I’m sad we haven’t seen more of him and his growth. But oh well.

Anyway, with these three, Beerus and Whis doing their own thing, it meant Earth was a bit vulnerable…

Which was ironically a good setup for the return of the red ribbon army, who really is an OG villain for Dragon Ball, so I really appreciated how they helped bring new viewers up to speed with a lesson of quick history, all the while revealing who we’re dealing with now via Magenta, Dr. Hedo and so on. Dr. Hedo is the grandson of Dr. Gero (the man who made Android 17 & 17 as well as Cell), and he had a very simple motivation for joining his grandfather’s old organization: he needed money to make androids. An agreement is reached and work begins.

This brings us to Piccolo and Gohan. Piccolo is his best “grandfather” with Pan, but also seems to bail out Gohan and Videl with their parental duties (not sure what he thinks about that…). Piccolo is particularly upset that Gohan is focusing more on his teaching career than his training. But Gohan (like others) is okay with that because if they need help, they can call on Goku and Vegeta… right?

Not enough. Because when Dr. Hedo’s creation, Gamma 2, attacks Piccolo and Piccolo learns of the Red Ribbon Army’s return, things kick into high gear…sort of.

You see, this is ironically where things start to go off the rails. Because as stated, Piccolo isn’t happy that Gohan isn’t doing his training, so when he infiltrates the villain layer and finds out they want to kidnap Pan… he actually helps them do it! All so he could give Gohan a “reality check” and get him back into fighting shape. It’s… quite dark. Sure, Pan is for it, but she’s also 3 years old and will clearly do anything Piccolo says (which is scary in itself). I was all for Gohan getting the lion’s share of the job here, but honestly, the movie doesn’t do him a lot of favors because most of the time… he looks like an idiot.

What you would think after the Tournament of Power arc where everything was almost wiped out, he would be a little more serious about things. But instead, he acted more like Goku than ever before! Including complaining about not having his glasses on, being clumsy like Goku can be, and more. Goten does it, it’s good because he looks a lot like his father, but Gohan is supposed to be different, but he didn’t act like that. Much to Piccolo’s chagrin more than once in this movie.

As for Gamma 1 & 2, I honestly didn’t mind them overall, and they played well in terms of personality and brotherly behavior towards each other. Gamma 1 is serious and Gamma 2 is show-off and reckless. It’s a trope, but it plays well. That is…until just like Gohan, their potential is wasted. We see them in a few fights before the main climax, but they’re either fast or not as good as they could have been. Then when the truth is revealed that they have been tricked, they stop fighting immediately as if nothing had happened.

Listen, I know it can be difficult to create good villains like Vegeta, Freiza, Majin Buu, etc. But we already had a “these androids aren’t that bad” arc, they even refreshed it with Android 17 in Dragon Ball Super with 17 winning the Tournament of Power and choosing to restore all universes with his wish! So it was a bit strange to retread so much ground with characters we’ve only just met.

Unfortunately, this led to another bad thing in terms of retreading. We all knew there would be an “ace” up the sleeve of the Red Ribbon Army, and it turned out to be… Cell Max. Yes, they brought Cell back, but instead of the Perfect Cell that seduced many, we got nothing more than a brutal monster. An unstoppable brute of a fighter… where did we JUST see that…? Yes Broly. Except Broly was cool, and Cell Max… not at all. Or at least not in a way that makes it memorable like the OG Cell was. The fights with him were pretty good, but overall it wasn’t a twist or a highlight that was worth it in the end.

I want to give props to the musical score of this film. They had great themes that felt like a mix of anime themes and blockbuster superheroes. So nice work on that, it helped me get into fights at key times.

One thing that I’m sure some of you will be curious about in my Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero review is the visuals. It is the first Dragon Ball film to adopt 3D in this way. How does it hold? I would honestly say it was…incoherent. At times it felt like the anime we’ve been watching for decades now. But other times, it felt like watching cutscenes from a video game. Sometimes that wouldn’t be a bad thing, but for a big blockbuster movie, and especially given the visual quality of Super and its anime and previous movies, I wish it had been a bit more polished and less obvious that it was dot 3D.

Don’t get me wrong, when did it work? It worked. Some shots and fight sequences were excellent. Additionally, the 3D world allowed for some special shots that we couldn’t have gotten in the 2D anime style without serious effort. But other times it showed we were looking at a 3D production and…honestly, we didn’t really need it given how good Broly is.

A plus I will give them are the transformations we get for Piccolo and Gohan. Piccolo was by far the MVP of the movie, and his transformation into Piccolo Orange was cool, even having him pull out a move he hadn’t used since the literal OG series was a nice callback too. Gohan’s was cool too, but it felt forced compared to Piccolo’s (or Goku’s Ultra Instinct) and as soon as it happened it was gone and it wasn’t talked about or explained nor even named!

Another very important difference that I want to name here is that of tone. If you watch the movie Beerus, the movie Frieza, or the movie Broly, you knew things were going to be serious at most points in the movie. But with Super Hero… they took the comedy too far for it to be taken seriously. For example, Bulma had very… animated shots in terms of the camera. Then we found out that she used the Dragon Balls for shopping and cosmetic surgery.

Oh, but it didn’t stop there. When Goten and Trunks randomly show up (alongside Krillin and 18), they do a failed merge (because of course they do…) and get their pants ripped, so we stare at their butts for minutes. Did we really need it? I don’t think we did. Also, why was Krillin so insulted? It has long been proven.

I think for me the biggest issue was the feel. When I watched Resurrection F, and especially when I watched Broly, I FELT the intensity of it all. Sure, it was slow to build, but once it started, it didn’t stop. You were supposed to FEEL that Broly was the ultimate threat, and they showed it in various ways, and demanded epic levels of power-ups and fusions to stop him. Here though, the Gammas were stopped very easily due to their “hero parts”, and honestly, Cell Max could have been stopped if not for Gohan’s transformation if you think about it. Gohan then says that even with Goku and Vegeta, they might not have been able to beat him, and I don’t believe that at all considering their power and ability levels.

Ultimately, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero was an interesting Dragon Ball story. But in truth, it would have been better as a multi-episode arc where things could have been built better and the payoff more significant. I’m sure some Dragon Ball fans will like it. But for others, especially those who want Gohan to FINALLY step into the role of the most powerful Saiyan in the world… you’re probably going to have to wait a little longer…

Dragon Ball Super: Superhero Review

Summary

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero delivered on some of its promises, including a story about Gohan and Piccolo. But it wasn’t enough to live up to what had come before, and it was just plain weird at times.


  • Dragon Ball Super: Superhero Review