When you’ve killed off one of the biggest villains of the series, what better thing to do than to introduce a family member?
What They Say:
Saving the universe can be tiring business! So after their big battle with Frieza on Namek, Goku, Gohan, Krillin, and Oolong decide to take a little camping trip for some rest and relaxation back on Earth. But their peaceful weekend is soon interrupted by a menacing force. Frieza has a brother: Cooler! And with his powerful Armored Squadron, he has come to Earth seeking revenge.
Cooler will not rest until the man who destroyed his brother is vanquished, even if that means blowing up the entire planet! Goku was able to tap into his hidden powers and transform into a Super Saiyan once before. The question is, now that the Earth is threatened by Frieza's older (and stronger) brother, can he do it again?
The Return of Cooler
New Namek is besieged by an enormous evil entity - the Big Gete Star - a "living planet" of metal that sustains itself by devouring entire worlds. Fearing for the existence of his people, Dende, the new guardian of Earth, turns to Goku and his friends for help.
The Z-Fighters spring into action in an effort to save the new Namekian home world from this invading menace, but their fight won't be easy! The Big Gete Star has an army of powerful Cyclopean Guards at its disposal, and what's more, at the heart of this metal giant lurks an old enemy... Cooler!
What We Say:
The audio presentation of this release is rather good overall and is the kind of release that does its best to cater to all the different fans that have come to the show over the years. The original Japanese language is essentially preserved here in its mono form using a 640kbps encode. I’m not quite sure any higher would be useful but it does sound much better than any of the previous releases I’ve heard on DVD for it which typically ran about 192kbps. Not unlike the previous Blu-ray releases of other Dragon Ball Z movies, it’s the English language side that makes out the best as we get two Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mixes with its variable bit rate. The two mixes are rather different as one contains the original Japanese music (sans vocals for the most part) while the other is the one done originally with the US created music. Depending on which you’re a fan of, you’ll be happy with this release regardless since you can sample both in high definition audio. The 5.1 mixes are significantly better than the DVD ones as they have a lot more impact overall and a greater presence. At the same time though, they aren’t really stand out pieces to begin with so just because it’s in TrueHD doesn’t mean it’ll blow your doors off. It is a solid presentation all around for what was originally a pair of mono movies released back in the early nineties.
Originally in theaters back in 1991 and 1992 respectively, the transfer for these two films are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and are authored using the AVC codec. The experience for these two specials is really the same as we had on the earlier movie releases in the franchise in that the material is really limited by what it was. These features never looked great to begin with but these two in particular are looking better than the earlier ones with a lot less grain in general. I’m not looking for clean pristine presentations of films that have grain in them, so it doesn’t bother me so grain doesn’t make me cry. Unlike the DVD presentations of it though, it doesn’t result in noticeable blocking. The colors in general look much brighter and more solid than ever before and overall it feels more fluid. These films are not ones that I have any real expectations for and it reminds me of how they were when we first got them on DVD. It was great to have something new on DVD and to get a bilingual Dragon Ball Z flick, but it wasn’t going to win anyone over.
Using standard Blu-ray packaging, the cover art for this release mirrors that of the DVD steelbook and makes me wish the Blu-ray edition got the same thing. The cover artwork is alright as it has Coola from the second feature with a standard half length shot of him looking all serious. Below him is both the franchise logo and that of the two movies done in a similar fashion to the earlier movie releases. The consistency is definitely a plus in re-establishing these movies as part of a proper collection as opposed to a mish mash of things. The back cover is similar in its design as it has Goku in another pose from the show with a black background. There’s a bit more color here as there are a few shots from the show and a good bit of very small text to provide the summaries of the two features included. The discs technical features are clearly listed in an easy to read grid while the remainder of the information is kept to the bottom. Hopefully over time a proper technical grid will be developed that will keep everything in the same place for quick reference. The insert that is included with this release is simple in that it has a fold-out piece that shows the original cover artwork while the back of it talks about the transfer of the film. We do get some reverse side artwork that features a scene of Coola and Goku duking it out that’s spread out across both panels in full color of the keepcase as well.
The menus that FUNimation used in their first release was pretty weak but they’ve got things working much better here. The main menu has clips from the features playing along with the logo overlaid on top of it. The pop-up menu and the main menu navigation are one and the same so it has a good consistency there though they are fairly minimal in design. There isn’t a lot you can do theme-wise with this so the sleek approach works pretty well. Individual feature selection is available here and when you go into playing a particular feature, you can choose options there. Submenus load quickly and the trailers section is decently done. The only suggestion to mention here is to include the resolution next to the title for when high definition trailers start to be included as they <i>will</I> be the ones that are looked at.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The ninth and tenth movies of the franchise hit in a double feature set which is really nicely done overall as it provides for a pair of book end stories that shows some of the evolution that Goku has gone through. The first feature took place during the realm of the late 90’s episodes while the second one came in around the 130 or so range. The two features revolve around one central character, Cooler in the dub and Coola in the Japanese, who is presented in two very different ways depending on the feature. Though nothing is even final in the world of Dragon Ball Z, there is a sense of it in this one to some degree.
The opening feature is a fairly fun piece that’s rather predictable in that we’re introduced to a bit more back story featuring Bardock. It’s just a tinge that shows the last battle he fought against Frieza and how it sowed the seed that is Goku heading to Earth. Where the feature takes a different turn is in that another creature like Frieza is watching the events play out and opts to not destroy Goku’s craft. This relation, Coola, comments on how Frieza is rather soft for letting such a thing happen and that he’ll reap what he sows because of it. Naturally, we know how that turned out in the series and now Coola has come to Earth to put things right in regards to Frieza and Goku. His intent on finishing off the Super Saiyan’s once and for all is his main goal, but it’s one that has special meaning because of Goku.
It doesn’t take long for a fight to ensue, in the wilderness no less since Goku and a few others are off camping. Coola’s subordinates start the whole thing going, but once Coola shows up it takes on a very different feel as Goku knows exactly what he’s up against. With a forty-seven minute runtime, it’s a very short fight considering what happened in the main series, and that sort of reduces the impact of it all since you’d expect that Coola is at least as strong as Frieza was. It simply lacks the overall impact, which is to be expected, but it turns into a decent enough series of fights as Piccolo gets involved and Goku has to really hold his own against Coola. Gohan once again steals the show at times with his attitude and the way he gets around on his Haiya dragon.
Far more entertaining, and over the top, is the second feature. You know Coola is involved but it takes a little bit before he shows up. A strange cybernetic planetoid has come into contact with the new Namekiam home world and it’s essentially absorbing and eating it. With such a huge disaster at hand, they call out for help and Goku and several others head out there in a special Capsule Corp ship to help out. The Namekians find themselves being subjugated by a huge army of robots that are essentially processing and harvesting them for energy and are unable to resist overall. When Goku and the gang show up, they throw themselves right into the fight and start rumbling with every robot they come across. It’s a numbers versus power issue though and that’s problematic for the group.
Where the curveball comes in is in that Coola has been absorbed by this planetoid himself and has become one with it. And with his kind of personality, he’s dominated it so that he can control and utilize it in his efforts to get revenge, hence attacking this planet. Goku is rather stunned that Coola is alive after all that’s happened from the first feature but with his growth in abilities since then, along with some help from Vegeta, they’re able to deal with him rather handily. At least at first, before they realize there’s an entire race of these things now being manufactured. This certainly ups the ante for the fight and it gives it a very different feel from past matches where when they do this, it’s just a number of weaker powered creatures, even like the robots at the beginning of this feature.
In watching these two features back to back, and trying to put some imaginary space between them, they’re certainly fun enough. Coola is the kind of villain that makes sense in that he doesn’t take away from what’s come before and it adds something new to all of it. The downside is that because of the limited scope of the features, they’re unable to give him the overall impact and scale that he needs to truly be taken advantage of. With the Frieza saga having gone on as long as it did, this all feels like a blip on the radar rather than something with some significance to it. And that’s unfortunate since it could add a really good wrinkle to the entire franchise, rather than just a couple of solid if predictable entries in the movie series.
In the end though, with these features playing a bit out of continuity for a number of reasons, the main reason for watching these features is to see Goku kick ass all over the place. And he does that pretty regularly. It’s a little disappointing at times because he comes across as a bit de-powered from other stories but the movies seem to have their own little continuity all to their own. The Coola features are a fair bit of fun and I rather liked the family ties aspect of it with regards to Coola himself, but it was something they could have done a lot more with I think. FUNimation’s release is solid overall on the technical side and with the presentation, but it’s unfortunate they couldn’t eke out a few original extras for it at the least.
Japanese 1.0 Dolby Digital Language, English 5.1 TrueHD Language (Japanese Music), English 5.1 TrueHD Language (US Music), English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.