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Movie Review

Not to be judgey, but it seems like raising your son with a shock collar isn't the best of parenting techniques.

Granted, Broly is a handful. He was deemed too powerful for the planet Vegeta when he was just a toddler and ejected from his home world to Vampa—a ruinous world filled with gigantic vampiric spiders and massive creatures who look, when they're not out and about, like putting greens.

His father, Paragus, rushed off after him when he learned what had happened. But the man discovered that his little boy was more than capable of taking care of himself already, before most of us even knew how to tie our shoes. "You've taken down a monster and eaten its leg!" he says as he watches the boy suck mucus from the aforementioned appendage. "That's my son!"

It's another indication of why Broly was punted from Vegeta in the first place. His battle skills were apparently off the charts, which made him a godlike "Super Saiyan," a supercharged warrior from a nearly extinct race. (Broly's home planet was destroyed shortly after he left by Frieza, Dragon Ball's height-challenged antagonist.) Only a few folks escaped, and they all have some pretty remarkable abilities, including the ability to transform into stronger, more colorfully-coifed versions of themselves. Why, fellow Vegeta castaways (and Dragon Ball protagonists) Goku and Vegeta have been transforming for decades now.

But Broly's own super powers proved to be even too much for his rather strict pops, so he cut off Broly's tail to keep him from changing. (Apparently, it helps.) And if Broly gets so mad that he changes anyway? Paragus fitted him with a shock collar. Push a button, and Broly's shocked into semi-docile submission.

That's how the father and son lived for years—eating spider legs, avoiding putting greens, dad shocking son if he got out of line. But someone had to stumble on Broly and his pops eventually, and so they did. Cheelai and Lemo, two lackeys in Frieza's ever-growing corporate pay, happen upon the pair as they seek new recruits.

Boy howdy, what a recruit Broly is.

But no matter how big Broly looks or how many packs his abs are packed with, Frieza's not going to be impressed with the guy until he sees him in action. Why not pit him against those two constant thorns in his side, Vegeta and Goku, who are currently on Earth's "ice continent" looking for a Dragon Ball?

'Course, to power up Broly enough to fight Dragon Ball's dynamic duo, Frieza might have to make him good and angry.

And you wouldn't like Broly when he's angry.

Positive Elements

Naturally, this would-be bout will eventually endanger the whole of planet Earth, and Goku would rather not see Earth destroyed. Good on Goku. Also, Cheelai takes issue with the way that Broly was raised, which is probably nice, too.

Spiritual Content

We hear references to the godlike Super Saiyans. Broly's whole existence, in fact, was thought to be something of a myth for a good long while, and it seems that part of Frieza's motivation to destroy the planet of Vegeta was to get rid of this truly legendary threat. And indeed, the powers of these Super Saiyans might even make Thor, god of thunder, quake in his cape. They can fly and lift massive weights even when they're not transformed. When they are, they can whip up force fields and shoot colorful energy thingies and sport all manner of martial coolness.

Goku and Vegeta are buds with Beerus, referred to as a literal "god of destruction." In this movie, though, he's sequestered solely to literal babysitting duty. He's served by an "angelic" attendant named Whis.

Piccolo, a green-skinned, sensei-like guy, shows up, too. In the Dragon Ball mythos he's a reincarnated being. Here he says, "What in the name of the multiverse is going on?"

The dragon who lives in the titular Dragon Balls has the power to grant wishes, including immortality.

Sexual Content

Cheelai is a shapely, green-skinned mercenary whose animated outfits show off her animated body (including significant cleavage). One guy makes a pass at her and, when Cheelai resists his advances, he turns aggressive—threatening to take her away by force. (Broly puts a stop to the suggested sexual assault.)

Broly and others often fight (and nurse injuries from those fights) without shirts. We see Broly in a rather gratuitous shower scene (though not much more than his back is shown for a second). Whis is pretty effeminate.

Violent Content

Violence. Such violence. About the last half of the movie is one extended fight scene, with Goku, Vegeta, Broly and even Frieza getting into the action. It's all animated, of course, and technically no blood is ever shed. But to me, this intense, anime-style action can feel even more violent and jarring than "live action" superhero CGI mayhem.

Tons of furious fists and feet are thrown and thrown and thrown some more. We often see these implements of mayhem in slow or stop motion, hitting their target (often a face, contorted by the blow). People are thrown everywhere—to the ground, through the ground (where they fight amongst the lava flows in the earth's bowels) and sometimes, apparently, smacked straight into other dimensions. They crash through mountains (obliterating their peaks) and plunge into seas and nearly destroy the entire continent of Antarctica (where I'm presuming they're at) before they're done. They're literally screaming as loud as they can all the time as they fight, as is Dragon Ball tradition.

Part of the movie serves as something of a backstory for the whole Dragon Ball saga, and so we see (in flashback) Frieza's first visit to the planet of Vegeta, where he blows up a couple of towers. Later, he encourages all of Vegeta's residents back to the planet. Once he feels like he's gotten everyone who can be got, he blows up the world in a spectacular explosion. (Goku's father tries to ward off the blow with his own special abilities, but he's incinerated in the process.)

And there's no kind way to put this next bit: Broly's dad is a really a jerk. When he arrives on Vampa with one of his lackeys, shortly thereafter he shoots and kills said lackey. We also learn why Broly wears an ugly, smelly green pelt around his middle: When he was a kid, he befriended one of the gigantic, fanged, putting-green creatures, but Paragus didn't like it, so he cut one of the creature's ears off. That soured the relationship between it and Broly pretty severely, but Broly still wears the ear around his waist to remind himself of when they were friends.

We see another person shot through the chest. Vegeta and Goku spar like mad around the ocean. (All fun and games, of course, but quite violent, still.) We learn that the Saiyan warriors of Vegeta made their livelihoods by conquering other planets and selling them to the highest bidders. We hear about Friezan's penchant for killing folks under the slimmest of pretexts.

Crude or Profane Language

There's more swearing here than you'd expect from a PG cartoon. We hear nearly 10 uses of the word "d--n," four of "h---" and one or two each of "a--," "b--tard" and "crap." God's name is misused once.

Drug and Alcohol Content

None.

Other Negative Elements

Not everyone treats each other courteously here, that's for sure.

Conclusion

The Dragon Ball franchise has been in motion since before many of you were born. The anime classic started in Japan way back in 1984 and migrated to the United States about a decade later. Back then, American media thought of it as a kids' show—even though the original was never intended as such.

"The people who loved Dragon Ball in Japan in 1998 and 2000 were people of all ages, particularly people in their twenties who were reading these manga on the subway on their way to work," Chris Sabat, the English voice of Vegeta, told Wired.

These days, the fan base in the United States is much the same. When I saw the movie on Friday—early in the morning, I might add—some kids filled the seats. But often they were being towed along by twentysomethings, some of whom arrived wearing colorful wigs and Dragon Ball costumes. This wasn't the crowd you'd see for The Grinch. And these fans were clearly into it—catching every reference, laughing at every inside joke.

The franchise, similar to the Pokémon phenomenon, seems to grow and morph with each passing generation. But while Pokémon is relatively kid friendly (albeit with some Eastern mystical spirituality mixed in), Dragon Ball is rougher, rowdier and more mature. It still can feel kid friendly at times: Goku is a playful goof, and many of the characters seem imported straight from after-school cartoons. But you don't need to see much of Dragon Ball to realize that this franchise is more adult than it lets on: The first swear word drops in the first five minutes, the first murder in 15.

Clearly, the franchise has some appeal, and with Dragon Ball Super: Broly being the 20th film (!) in its history, many families are already quite familiar with its strengths, weaknesses and problems. But for parents who see the latest flick's PG rating and think it's fine to ship the kiddos off to the movie house for a couple hours, you might want to twice. And maybe even a third time, just to be sure.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Voices of Sean Schemmel as Goku; Christopher Sabat as Vegeta; Vic Mignogna as Broly; Christopher Ayres as Frieza, Piccolo and King Vegeta; Sonny Strait as Bardock; Emily Neves as Gine; Monica Rial as Bulma; Kara Edwards as Goten; Dameon Clarke as Paragus

Director

Tatsuya Nagamine ( )Naohiro Shin ( )

Distributor

20th Century Fox

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

January 18, 2019

On Video

May 27, 2019

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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