Who would have thought we’d hear Bender say “We’re back, baby”? I know I didn’t. I was disappointed when Futurama was canned, but, when these direct-to-video movies were announced, I couldn’t be more happy. And now that the dust has settled and this first feature-length adventure for the Planet Express team is deemed a certified hit, I think it’s a good time to look at the first new Futurama adventure in years. Does it live up to the hype? Well, I suppose we should dive into the synopsis and then onward with the review!
Uncancel your plans for the future — Futurama is back! In this all-new, feature-length epic, evil nudist aliens send Bender on a rampage through time, forcing him — slightly against his will — to steal all of Earth’s priceless historic treasures. Will the heroic Planet Express crew save the planet? Will Leela find true love? Will the ancient and terrible secret of Fry’s buttocks be exposed? All will be revealed in Futurama: Bender’s Big Score, the greatest adventure of our time, and also the greatest adventure of several other times! In the words of a certain beer-fueled robot . . . “We’re back, baby!”
As a huge fan of the series, it goes without saying that it is simply great to have the series back. Once the new movie started up, it was as if they never left. The movie picks up basically where the series left off. Yes, there was a chunk of time that passed, as explained by the Professor (which includes a dig at the Fox Network), but, the movie just gets passed that and continues on with the plot. And what’s the plot? Well, it’s explained above in the synopsis, but, as the movie unrolls, it becomes more complicated than that. In fact, I’d have to say that this is one of the most complex Futurama stories ever, and boy, do the creators just revel in the complexities on display here. And they have piles of fun. We see Bender revisits parts of the past, including a few moments from Fry’s era and, in a hilarious sequence, when he was frozen.
Of course, all of this circles around the mysterious tattoo on Fry’s butt which has appeared, and the code it holds within. Toss in some evil alien nudists looking to loot history, and you got a pretty fun story. And yes, your head will spin during the whole thing, but, in the end, it all adds up. Trust me, it does.
And as much as I applaud this movie, I do have a few nitpicks. Without spoiling this move for the few who have yet to see it, the events of this movie does have repercussions on some of the past episodes, including the one which spotlighted Fry’s dog. Like I said, I don’t want to spoil it, but since that episode, “Jurassic Bark,” was one of my absolute favorites, I was disappointed this episode took some of the wind out of it. And while the Fry/Leela relationship is at the center of this picture, I was surprised to see where it started. If I remember, Fry had one Leela over at the end of the series, but here, they’re acting their usual self, with Fry pining for Leela and Leela trying to score herself a man (which she does, and this new character is just as involved in this story as the main characters). Like some of the best Futurama episodes, this movie has a strong emotional core that really adds to the story.
However, the twist on the new character and Fry and Leela’s relationship does make for an interesting twist, even if it is somewhat predictable. Still, the creative team is trying and that, in itself, it to be recognized. So on top of that, there’s also a host of character cameos and a lot of hilarious moments. The movie continues to show off Futurama‘s smart comedy, always biting and never lacking. The writing also continues to excel, with a complicated plot that comes off as both hilarious and ingenious. On top of that, this movie actually makes a difference in the shows continuity and whether that’s good or bad, that’s up to you to decide. Still, any way you write it, Futurama: Bender’s Big Score is hilarious and a welcome return for Futurama fans.
So, while the movie itself is a winner, is the DVD top notch, as well? As can be expected, the audio and visual are pretty excellent for the film. The video isn’t as good as I’d hope, but it better than broadcast quality (i.e., what you’ll see when Comedy Central begins airing this movie as “episodes). The extras are, of course, pretty excellent. We kick off with a packed commentary By Matt Groening, David X. Cohen, Billy West, John DiMaggio, Phil LaMarr, Claudia Katz, Dwayne Carey-Hill and Ken Keeler. After that, we get a cool featurette called “Futurama Returns! A Live Comic Book Reading By The Futurama Cast Featurette. Afterwards we get arguably my favorite extra – a whole episode of Everybody Loves Hypnotoad. It is pure awesome, and really should be checked out. It’s worth it, folks. After that we get the “A Terrifying Message From Al Gore – Animated Promo For An Inconvenient Truth,” an online which originally premiered a few years back in time for Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth movie (with commentary by Al Gore, Matt Groening and David X. Cohen). Rounding off the collection is a bizarre “Bite My Shiny Metal X – A Mind-Shattering Futurama Math Lecture” featurette, which is exactly what it sounds like. There’s also a featurette on the original first draft of the movie’s script, new character and design sketches, the five-minute Comic-Con promo, and a smattering of deleted scenes. All in all, a pretty rounded collection.
It’s great to have Futurama back, and this movie is an excellent return to form. While it may have a couple missteps, as highlighted in the review above, it’s just an excellent movie from start to finish. It’s hilarious and brings us back to speed with our favorite employees of Planet Express. Futurama: Bender’s Big Score comes totally Recommended. It’s filled with smart comedy, laugh-out-loud comedy, and a great touching story underlying the whole thing. It’s just a great movie, and to see all of these characters back, it’s a real treat. It’s unbelievable that after so many years of waiting, Futurama is back, and it hasn’t lost a single step.
Futurama: Bender’s Big Score is now available on DVD.