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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Movie Review: Futurama: Bender's Big Score

So here I am, all safe and sound in my beloved home of Entwistle. I'm here because of a "bank error in my favour." The company ran some numbers and figured I was owed a lot more days off this year than we all thought, so they figured that this was the best time for me to use them up!

So I'm chilling, relaxing, and getting all the Chrismta shopping done. However, while I was Christmas shopping yesterday, I couldn't help but pick up a DVD for myself that I'd been wanting to get for a couple of weeks now.

So, let's review this straight-to-DVD gem, shall we?

Futurama: Bender's Big Score

Directed by Dwayne Carey-Hill

Starring the voices of Billy West, Katey Segal, John diMaggio, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, Phil LaMarr, Lauren Tom, David Herman, Coolio, Mark Hamil, Al Gore, Tom Kenny, and voice acting legend Frank Welker.

Backstory: When Family Guy made its miraculous resurrection thanks to strong DVD sales and incredilby high ratings in reruns, many wondered when Futurama would be making a similar comeback. After all, Futurama suffered pretty much the same fate as Family Guy. The plan was announced that Futurama would be making its comeback in a series of four straight-to-DVD movies. Of course, the grand plan is to eventually chop up these movies into 4 episodes each, giving a long-awaited 16-episode season 5. And the first of those straight-to-DVD movies, Bender's Big Score, came out a couple of weeks ago.

Plot: After getting (their delivery license) renewed, the Planet Express crew makes a delivery to the Nude Beach Planet. While taking some time to enjoy the sun, they notice that Fry has a tatoo of Bender on his ass. Also, they unwittingly sign their personal information over to a gang of nude Internet scammers. The scammers then use this info to take over Planet Express. That's also when they discover the secret of Fry's tatoo: it holds the key to paradox-free time travel. Using this, the scammers reprogram Bender to loot of all history, all the while using their insidious spam to con all of Earth! Can Fry, Leela, and the rest of the Planet Express crew save Earth from the scammers and restore the timeline? Oh, and throw in a great homage to The Terminator, and the latest monkeywrench in the Fry/Leela romance in the form of a man named Lars Filmore.

What I Liked: Ye gods, this thing makes tons of in-jokes and references to Futurama episodes. It's neat to see the origins of certain things, even if they are treated as throwaway gags. And, it's just funny as hell. Mark Hamil piloting a TIE fighter. How Al Gore lost the 2000 election. Again with Gore: "At last! I get to save the world with deadly lasers, and not deadly slide shows." And, best of all, four words: solid gold Death Stars.

What I Didn't Like: As part of the grand scheme to eventually chop this up into 4 TV shows, it is a bit episodic.

Final Verdict: Funny, funny, funny.

3.5 Nibs

DVD Bonus Materials: In this straight-to-DVD package, you get all this to enhance the film:
  • Running commentary with the voice cast and crew
  • Futurama Returns! - A live reading of one of the comic books, by the voice cast.
  • Everybody Loves Hypnotoad - A complete episode of the 31st Century's favourite sitcom
  • Deleted Scenes that never made it past storyboards
  • A Terrifying Message from Al Gore - the special trailer for An Inconvenient Truth that starred Al Gore and Bender. This also has a running commentary featuring Gore and Futurama's creators.
  • Bite My Shiny Metal X - A lecture from a math professor that demonstrates that most of the equations and math jokes in Futurama are actually legitimate math equations!
  • The first draft of the script
  • Character designs for the new characters in the film
  • 3D models and turnarounds of the spaceships
  • The special 5-minute trailer whipped up for the San Diego ComicCon.

And, just one last reminder that the second film, Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs, comes out this spring.

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