This definitely wasn't the Dragon Ball movie I was expecting. The main villains are the Red Ribbon Army (again), which really has me wondering if they can really only rehash only villains for these movies. I get that people like Frieza and Cell, but they just introduced a MULTIVERSE of characters to choose from and we go back to The Red Ribbon Army? Hard pass. Putting that aside, I went into this movie with low expectations, but was curious to see how a Gohan/Piccolo (but really only Piccolo) led movie would go. The beats were annoyingly familiar for an android arc. Fast and slim androids are the enemy. Fast and slim androids team up with heroes to try to defeat Cell. I would have gladly taken a Pride Troopers/Z Warriors team up movie versus whatever this movie was trying to do. Here are the basics.
The animation is new, and looks great. The colors really pop out and make the energy shooting off the fighters feel dangerous. But I wouldn't call this new style an improvement over the old animation, I consider Battle of Gods to have superior animation, the fight between Goku and Beerus was beautifully animated, as you can see below!
I think the best part of this movie was the animation, they went with a new style and while it deviates from the original style, it is great they tried and the Ki blasts really benefit from it.
I know. It's a DBZ movie. Plot isn't necessary. But this movie lacks a whole lot of fights, and focuses a LOT on the plot, so here we go. This movie should have been called "Detective Piccolo", as a huge chunk of runtime focuses on Piccolo infiltrating the Red Ribbon Army to discover their nefarious plots. The movie also has a style I could attribute to campy 80s movies, as characters are introduced with silly title screens. I didn't hate any of it really, the humor was pretty good and the characters and how they related to the Android arcs of Dragonball and Dragonball Z were pretty interesting. But like I said, it's a DBZ movie, so the action needs to make up for dozens of minutes of exposition and Gohan being a bad dad. Which THAT is a whole thing the movie glosses over, that Gohan has become his Dad essentially, neglecting his child in order to pursue his passion. I won't spoil it, but the last fight scene of the movie (pre credits) also lacks punch, as we see a predictable sacrifice followed by what SHOULD have been a sacrifice that called back to the first episodes of DBZ, but then didn't. This movie seemed to just want to introduce a few transformations (that weren't earned, as usual, I don't even remember the last earned transformation in this show, they don't really train anymore), and to show us what Goku and company are up to with Whis and Beerus. There are really only two good fights in this movie, and the last fight is boring, as it's essentially The Z Warriors vs. a boring Godzilla. I honestly found myself more interested in Detective Piccolo and seeing how he was setting Gohan and the Red Ribbon Army up. But it's more than suitable for DBZ fans, and I can't imagine any fan of the show will walk away hating this movie. The only thing I hated about it was the sexualization of characters, another DBZ legacy that needs to go away. There's literally a FULL frame of Bulma's butt, literally her shaking it in front of the camera while she is looking for something. I felt like DBZ KIND OF stepped away from that in Tournament of Power when they "cured" Roshi of his lust, but I guess we had to take a few steps back.
The whole reason we go to see DBZ movies. The few fight we get to see are either incredibly Dr. Brief or we only get to see a chunk of it. The running joke is Goku and Vegeta are having the training battle of a lifetime while the movie is happening, and we get to see about a minute of it, and that minute of fighting is probably the best in the movie. They also did Vegeta dirty by not showing his fight with Goku. The first Piccolo fight is brief, and the following ones aren't really special either. The Gamma characters are cool, but really the only thing unique about their fighting style is their blasters, which shoot concentrated Ki. As beautiful as the animation was it didn't really matter since the fights were basic. I love Dragonball Z and always have, but this movie is just alright. The fights were fine. The last fight wasn't good, definitely some cool moments during the last fight, but overall small vs. big doesn't really work.
The animation and for some reason the plot are the most enjoyable aspects of this DBZ movie. The focus on Gohan and Piccolo is a breath of fresh air, and keeping Goku and Vegeta out of the main story doesn't take away from it at all. With that being said, the fights aren't memorable, and the main baddie at the end is boring and unoriginal. More could have been done for this movie if Gohan and Piccolo had taken on a multiversal foe rather than the Red Ribbon Army of all groups. Dragonball Super: Detective Piccolo is worth a watch, but is in the middle of the pack as far as DBZ movies go.