Futurama fans, this is it (for the foreseeable future, at least). It seemed no sooner did we hear of the announcement of four DTV features that would bring us the Planet Express crew back than we were already settling down to watch the first of the outings. Now, with three of them already in our belt, we settle down for the fourth installment, which takes our crew to all-new heights, the exploration of old relationships and the introduction of an all-new destiny for Fry. Oh and there’s plenty of Bender as well.
All the other galaxies will be green with envy! In this all-new Futurama extravaganza, mankind stands on the brink of a wondrous new Green Age. But ancient forces of darkness, three years older than time itself, have returned to wreak destruction. Even more shocking: Bender’s in love with a married fembot, and Leela’s on the run from the law – Zapp Brannigan’s law! Fry is the last hope of the universe… so if you’re in the universe, you might want to think about going somewhere else. Could this be the end of the Planet Express crew forever. Say it ain’t so, meatbag! Off we go, Into the Wild Green Yonder!
Anyone who knows me knows how much of a Futurama fan I am. It is easily one of my favorite animated series of all time and I eagerly await each one of these DTV installments. Unfortunately it seemed that with each one that came out, I gradually became less and less entertained by them. Bender’s Big Score was a riot, simply because it was nice to have the show back again. Beast was entertaining, if a bit stretching it in storyline and Bender’s Game was my least favorite of the bunch, with a weak string of jokes that didn’t even really start getting funny until the game world began. On top of that, it seems Mom jokes were getting redundant and boring.
And then enters Into the Wild Green Yonder. I didn’t have high hopes for this film. Hell, aside from what was on the Bender’s Game release, I never saw another still or trailer for the film. My interest in the Futurama films had waned and I really just wanted the series to return to episodic format, as it seemed (to me, at least) that the writers simply couldn’t find a suitable story to stretch into the four-episode length that each movie was. So needless to say I wasn’t exactly jazzed about the film, but I wasn’t adverse to watching it either; as slow as the previous films got, they were still Futurama and a thousand times better than any other comedic piece of animation that was out there to watch.
I say all of this because I want it to be absolutely clear that when I say Into the Wild Green Yonder was not only my favorite of the Futurama DTV’s but also some of my favorite Futurama writing ever, that this was a truly special outing. Every joke in the film felt fresh and landed perfectly, every sight gag was timed beautifully, and, most importantly, the films plots weaved in and out each other wonderfully without any redundancy or unnecessary sidesteps. Simply put I haven’t had this much fun watching Futurama since I watched the series (for the first time) on DVD as each volume was released. I can’t put my finger on what makes this film so enjoyable, but Into the Wild Green Yonder is such a perfect mix of throwbacks to past episodes and new takes on old jokes that it was nothing short of an absolute delight to watch. I found myself laughing from the start of the film and I didn’t stop until the end; every scene had a myriad of jokes bottled up inside of it and even the more subtle ones made me laugh. At one point, in a fit of laughter from a string of already hilarious jokes I actually pounded my desk from laughing so much at a simple slapstick moment with Zoidberg. Everything I love about Futurama was in full form in this “final” outing.
And it really did kind of feel like a final send off, as the film wraps everything up in a neat little bow, while still leaving it open-ended for another series of DTVs (or new season of the show…please!) if Fox sees fit. Whatever the result ends up being, Into the Wild Green Yonder sends the series off with a bang. Hilarious jokes are abound, the animation is top-notch, the voice actors all bring their best game (including Katie Segal, who I felt was a bit weak in Bender’s Game) and quite honestly, this is what I first imagined when I heard about the DTVs: ninety minutes of non-stop laughter.
Overall if you’re a fan of Futurama, I’ve no doubt this will rank up there as some of the best the series has offered. I may be overselling this one, but after the disappointment I’ve felt from the past efforts, I really can’t recommend this one enough. Highly Recommendedfor everyone, fans of the show or not.
This final film comes packed in a standard (but colorful) Blu-ray case, complete with an insert noting the importance of firmware upgrades as well as a set of four Futurama post cards. Disc art is of the nebula that much of the film revolves around, while menus for the set are elaborate and well done. Overall this is a fine presentation for the film and I honestly hope we see the first two films on Blu-ray soon, as I’d like to have a proper row of the films on my shelf (right now they’re divided up between DVD and Blu-ray rows…I’m anal like that).
In terms of visuals…well, really, what do you expect from this? The film is absolutely brilliant looking, with an always vibrant color palette allowing the visuals to pop off the screen. The AVC (@35mbps) encoding is quite frankly flawless, with an always beautiful picture to accompany this hilarious film. If you want to show off what pixel-by-pixel perfection looks like, then merely pop this disc in and pause on any one of the films many frames; while the detail may not be as insane like an animated CGI outing, the simplicity of absolute clarity that comes from standard 2D animation is unbeatable. Not to mention the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that sounds absolutely amazing, with a robust surround mix as well as plenty of subwoofer output during the films more frantic segments. Also included are English SDH, French, Spanish, Cantonese, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish subtitles.
Plenty of extras are included (almost all of which are in high-definition) and include:
Commentary with Matt Groening, David X. Cohen, John DiMaggio, Maurice LaMarche, Patric M. Verrone, Michael Rowe, Lee Supercinski and Peter Avanzino
Video Commentary (BonusVIEW)
Storyboard Animatic (SD)
Matt Groening and David X. Cohen in Space! (SD)
How to Draw
Bender’s Movie Theater Etiquette
Zapp Brannigan’s Guide to Making Love at a Woman
There’s plenty to pick apart here and as you can see there’s only two extras that aren’t in standard definition. The only Blu-ray extra that’s here is the alternate video commentary (it’s the same as the audio-only one, but, obviously, with picture-in-picture). As expected, the commentary is an absolute blast to listen to, although the absence of Billy West is a bit of a downer. Still, it’s a fantastic mixture of joking and genuine insight into the production of the film, so all in all it’s definitely worth a listen.
The remainder of the extras are a mixture of short and quick pieces that cover everything from the voice recording to the animation studios. None of the segments are terribly long, but they’re worth checking out if you’re a fan of the series. Besides, the commentary more than makes up for any lack of a real making-of anyway. Plus there’s deleted scenes (that’s the “Golden Stinkers”), so those wanting more of this film will be appeased.
Overall, Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder is by and far my favorite of the DTV films. It hits all the right notes and the extras are adequate and pleasing. Highly Recommended.
Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on February 24th.