‘Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods’ (2014) review: A return to form, filler and all

‘DBZ: Battle of Gods’ sure to please longtime fans

It’s been, what? More than 17 years? That’s far too long a time to wait for my fix of “Dragon Ball Z” feature films. The last time I got to catch one on screen, I was 8, Bill Clinton was president, the Unabomber was arrested and only 16 percent of America used the Internet. Quite a bit has changed since then.

But you, “Dragon Ball Z,” you haven’t changed in any significant way. I really couldn’t be happier about that.

The latest entry into the DBZ stable, “Battle of Gods,” released in 2013 in Japan, netting some 1 million tickets sales within a week. But it finally made its way statewide in August, dubbed by all those familiar voices from the past. (The DVD/Blu-ray version of “BoG” hits shelves Oct. 7.)

To those who know me, it will come as no surprise as to how excited I was to hear “BoG” was finally being dubbed and released in the U.S. I’ve been a fan of the anime series since I was a young boy, and it seemed for a while as if there wasn’t going to be another feature film. Which, to me, seemed a shame because of how immensely popular the anime was and fervent following it still possesses today. So, imagine my glee when I discovered that not only would some of my favorite characters return but that our heroes could be up against their greatest foe yet: a god of destruction whose powers allow him to destroy entire solar systems.

Directed by Masahiro Hosoda from a story by Akira Toriyama, the man behind the original manga, “Battle of Gods” brings back all our favorite characters to face the threat of Beerus (voiced by Jason Douglas), the feline-shaped God of Destruction who has awoken from his decades-long slumber. The danger stems from Beerus’ decision to investigate a prophecy regarding a Super Saiyan god whose abilities rival that of his own. And since there’s only one Saiyan (an alien race from the planet Vegeta trained in powerful martial arts) who could possibly fill that role — Goku (voiced by Sean Schemmel, who also voiced him during the TV series), the series’ (and Earth’s) constant hero who’s felled villains across the galaxy — Beerus decides to visit our little blue ball in the sky.

The plot and antics that follow should be familiar territory for DBZ fans: Other, less-powerful heroes (prominently Vegeta, the prince of Saiyans) attempt to take on Beerus, only to be overwhelmed. Goku, with the help of his friends, inherits a power that keeps Beerus on his toes. All the while silly filler abounds, with a birthday party and young love story adding the bursts of comedy we’ve come to expect in any DBZ movie.

In the end, to say any more would ruin some of the nice twists “Battle of Gods” throws our way, but suffice to say the film will delight any fan of the acclaimed anime. And while some may bemoan the extended filler scenes, there’s simply too much fun to be had with those classic over-the-top battles and slapstick comedy popping up randomly. We even get to see Vegata dance; that’s a win in my book.

Four ‘there’s no bias here…’ stars out of five.

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Above, Goku and Beerus face off on the North Kai's planet in a scene from "Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods." (Photo credit: 20th Century Fox)

Above, Goku (in Super Saiyan 3 mode) faces Beerus, the God of Destruction, on King Kai’s planet in a scene from “Dragonball Z: Battle of Gods.” (Photo credit: 20th Century Fox)

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