Anime fans in the United States will have to wait until summer, when Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' releases in theaters. However, it has been released in Japan over the weekend, and some critics have already managed to review the film.
According to a report from Anime News Network, Funimation hosted the North American premiere of the film in Los Angeles on April 11. However, a version of the film with an English dub is scheduled to be released this summer.
"Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' premiered on 658 screens in both 2D and 3D in theaters across Japan on April 18, although advance screenings were held before then," Anime News Network wrote. "The film is the first Japanese film to open in 3D IMAX Digital Theaters."
Akira Toryama, the original creator of Dragon Ball Z, told Anime News Network that the "F" in the film's title stood for "Frieza," a character revived in the film. He is also credited with the original concept, screenplay and character designs of the new movie.
"Toriyama noted that he thought of the title while listening to 'F' by rock band Maximum The Hormone, whom he came to know personally through a friend," Anime News Newtork wrote. "The song itself features Frieza as a motif, and is used as a "battle song" during one of the battle scenes in the film. The band originally released the song as its eighth single in July 2008."
According to Ollie Barder of Forbes, the film was directed by Dragon Ball veteran Tadayoshi Yamamuro, who has worked on almost the entire series of anime since the 1980s. Masako Nozawa, who is in her eighties, reprises her role as the voice of Goku.
"If you're surprised to hear that a Japanese lady is voicing a muscular Saiyan guy, then don't be," Barder wrote. "It's not uncommon for many of the major male anime characters to be voiced by women."
Richard Eisenbeis of Kotaku managed to watch the film in its original version. He noted that the latest Dragon Ball film picks up where "Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods" left off three years ago.
"One of Frieza's soldiers collects Earth's dragon balls and uses them to resurrect the intergalactic warlord," Eisenbeis wrote. "Then, while recovering in space Frieza trains and rebuilds his army for an attack on Earth to kill the two responsible for his defeat: Trunks and Goku."
According to Eisenbeis, the film's strongest point was in its choice of villain, the alien monster known as Frieza.
"Frieza is a well-known and developed character," Eisnbeis wrote. "If the film would have had a new villain, most of the movie's runtime would have had to been spent establishing the main villain as a threat and fleshing out his or her backstory. With Frieza, there is no need."
Eisenbeis added that this choice allowed the film to focus on the development of Jaco the Galactic Patrolman. Toriyama wrote a manga on this character back in 2013, which showed Jaco meeting 5-year-old Bulma, who repaired Jaco's ship, during the hunt for the Saiyan.
"In Resurrection 'F', it is Jaco who, after learning of Frieza's return, comes to warn his old friend and get her to contact Goku-and later stays to help protect the Earth (at Bulma's cajoling)," Eisnbeis wrote. "He is a welcome addition to the cast of the film, and it's great to see how someone who can't fly or shoot energy bolts from his hands can still go toe to toe with Frieza's men."
However, Eisenbeis wasn't a fan of the CG used in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F.' He thought it stuck out "like a sore thumb."
"It's distracting in many shots, especially those with random mooks floating in the background," Eisenbeis wrote. "However, while still obvious in the more climactic moments of Goku and Frieza's final battle, the skill of the cinematography overshadows the questionable quality of the CG."
Eisenbeis added that Goku transforms twice in this film. According to Eisenbeis, transformations are quite rare in the "Dragon Ball Z" series.
"In the series, new transformations were something rare-over the course of 291 episodes, only three major transformations were introduced," Eisenbeis wrote. "Now, we have had two in as many movies. It tends to rob much of what makes the transformations so special if they are thrown at us so readily."
Even though the film had some deep flaws, Eisenbeis thought the movie was still enjoyable to watch.
"While the first half of the film is filled with great action, comedy, and a fun new character, the film loses its momentum once the main battle begins and tension all but disappears," Eisenbeis wrote. "So while there is some fun to be had, Resurrection 'F' is far from the grand return Dragon Ball Z's most iconic villain deserved."
Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' with English subtitles is expected to hit U.S. theaters sometime this summer.