If you read my recent review of Bender’s Big Score, you’ll know I wasn’t exactly thrilled by Futurama’s first dvd movie. But like many things (such as relationships and less than average presidents), you always want to give it a second chance. Bender, Fry, Leela & others are fantastic characters and perhaps with the first film, they just had a bump in the road. We, as viewers know they can do better. They just have to steer clear of disgusting & annoying villains as well as confusing plots. Let’s hope that it holds together for the solid ninety minutes and see what pans out.
After the paradox correction of a million Benders creates a rip in the fabric of space, life has tried to return to normal. Fry is in a new relationship with a girl named Colleen. Amy and Kif (Zapp Brannigan’s side kick) get married. In a very funny bit, “Deathball” is used to win the right of exploring the anomaly. Upon reaching the rip in space, the Planet Express crew sends Bender out to investigate the situation. However, they quickly realize that electrical beings such as robots get zapped when trying to touch the anomaly but living beings are unaffected and can pass through.
Meanwhile, Fry (shortly after Deathball) realizes that Colleen has four other boyfriends and wants for Fry to move in the apartment. He does for all of one night before he realizes he needs a committed relationship. Bender is having troubles of his own, after to starts to stalk his hero Calculon and ultimately gets entangled in the fabled League of Robots when he tries to kill himself with a suicide booth. However, the story really starts when Fry, now depressed after leaving Colleen, decides to stow away on Zapp Brannigan’s ship. (who has been now commissioned to destroy whatever lies beyond the anomaly) Fry then decides to pass onto the other side. What he finds there is more than he expected and when he comes back to Earth, the people there may never be the same.
Perhaps I missed something, but this could have been renamed Bender’s Big Score Part II and I wouldn’t have missed a beat. But since it wasn’t, I have to evaluate it on its own. The beginning is a throw away and assumes that you had seen the first Futurama movie since they give you a very weak back story. Most Futurama fans such as me have seen the first movie, but when dealing with major plot points you have to be considerate of those chosen few who have not been blessed with the prior movie. However, with a strong movie (at least stronger than the first), we can forget little flaws such as this in a hope we get a sufficient movie to begin with.
The problem is we don’t. In fact I dare say it again, this is average. The first jokes are fantastic and the references are top notch (Stephen Hawking & Death Ball are awesome). However, 45 minutes later you realize there is still 45 minutes to go and the jokes have worn out their welcome. The cast of characters are still good to go but the story feels worn out and weathered. I did also enjoy Zapp Brannigan having a strong supporting role. I felt his character borders on spin-off possibilities but perhaps it is best we leave that where it is.
One main character I do have to comment on. Seriously, what is Fry’s problem with relationships? Is there some fetish I haven’t been alerted about that he has with? In Bender’s Big Score, he was having a relationship with a dolphin. In this one, he starts off with somebody who has to have five men to keep her happy. Then he has a relationship with something that could only be described as an alien octopus. I mean, you could say he was brain controlled but he really needs some therapist time and quick. (Is there a Zoidberg in the house?) Yivo as the pseudo villain/antagonist of the film is interesting but it leaves us with some really creepy imagery that tries to play off as funny material but is just disturbing.
The film is presented in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. Kudos to the team for provided yet another A quality picture, the kind we come to expect from Futurama episodes or the movies. Brilliant color is used and I honestly could not find anything but beautiful pictures scrolling across my hi-def television set.
The audio is provided in 5.1 English Dolby Digital and is about what you would expect out of your normal Futurama episode. Dialog is very clear and most of the sound effects sound loud and proud. Action does tend to stay in the center speaker with few surrounds, but most cartoon goers should not have a problem here. Subtitles are also provided in English, Spanish, and French.
- Audio Commentary with Matt Groening, David X. Cohen, Billy West, John Dimaggio, Maurice Lamarche, Michael Rowe, Claudia Katz, Peter Avanzio, and Lee Supercinski: Another strong & very funny commentary from the group. Good humor and it is an extreme pleasure to listen to people who care about their work so much. More pleasing than the film, sad to say.
- Futurama: The Lost Adventure (w/ commentary) 30:11: The cutscenes pieced together from The Futurama Xbox Game. Very appreciated and for the most part, they did a fantastic job of piecing this together. Quite the quality extra and makes me wish the game wasn’t so hard to secure for a decent price. The commentary is also very good and the participants also go into other video games they did voices for.
- Storyboard Animatic 21:45: Part One of the movie with complete Storyboard, good for upcoming artists and directions of animation projects to study. Subtle differences are to be found.
- Deleted Scenes 3:21: Six deleted scenes for you to enjoy in a variety of production formats (some are complete, some are storyboarded). I like how these were presented, but none was overly important to include in the final product.
- David Cross Featurette 2:01: David Cross supplies the voice of Yivo, the alien who loves a little too much. This very short extra is basically a highlight on his role. More footage would have been appreciated.
- Blooperama 2:11: Bloopers with the voice acting cast. Some funny stuff, I think I appreciate more the Shrek way of doing bloopers (for cartoons) with the animated characters screwing up as if they were real. A Futurama one would be very entertaining.
- 3d Models with Animator Discussion 4:10: The usual impressive 3d Model displays showing off the technical poweress of the Futurama crew.
- A Brief History of Deathball 2:02: A funny little extra that goes into the science that is Deathball. The joke is awesome but only if you actually owned one of these games as a kid. Truth is you could cheat on it like people did with Rubix cubes, but I wish I still had mine.
- Bender’s Game 1:59: The third movie in the series. This one seems to revolve around Dungeons & Dragons or Lego jokes. In comparison to the other two, I’m actually very excited to see this one. I hope I’m not disappointed.
My best emotion here could be described as frustration. I love Futurama, Bender rules and if I had a t-shirt with that on it, I would be so happy. But watching these first two movies have taught me that a show can be awesome but a movie of that show can lead to disappointment. Despite the strong performances, the script was just average here and the story while not confusing anymore didn’t lead anywhere. I hope that in the next movie if nothing else, that Fry would try to have a normal relationship and with something at least semi-human. The dvd was again top-notch and I appreciate the huge amount of work in producing a dvd for the fans. The fans of Futurama will enjoy this no matter what, even if I did turn a critic’s eye to this one. My only hope is that Bender’s Game saves the first two, it does look promising and I will be looking forward (hopefully) to reviewing that one as well. Recommended for Futurama fans only.