Monday, June 23, 2008

Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs

The Planet Express crew is back in action in this second new direct-to-DVD feature. Following the events of the first film, Bender’s Big Score, the gang find themselves faced with a gigantic rip in the fabric of space near Earth, which isn’t so bad by itself until a gigantic tentacle monster starts coming through it. Surprisingly, the monster seems to be more interested in spreading good vibes than global destruction, offering an intergalactic nirvana to all willing to embrace him. There’s also a new romantic interest for Fry played by Brittany Murphy, as well as Bender’s complete infatuation with Calculon that leads to his entrance into a secret robotic society intent on wiping out all of humanity. Professor Farnsworth battles his old nemesis Doctor Wernstrom, and Kip and Amy engage in a bizarre marriage-like ceremony on Kip’s home planet.

Those are only some of the subplots, and with so much going on the film sometimes fails to juggle everything successfully, but still adds up to an entertaining final product. The best part is that it really feels like Futurama, a fine continuation of the original series rather than a pathetic cash-in attempt, thanks entirely to the return of the original cast and crew.

Like the first movie, this new disc is jam-packed with special features that include:

- A full-length commentary track by the production team and cast
-“Futurama: The Lost Adventure” – an episode-length adventure produced for the 2003 video game, also includes audio commentary by the production team and cast
-Meet Yivo! (the tentacle monster) featurette with David Cross
-A Brief History Of Deathball featurette
-Blooperama: the Futurama cast at work in the recording studio
-An overview of the 3D CGI models used in the film
-Deleted scenes and storyboards
-A sneak peek at the next Futurama movie, Bender’s Game

The “Lost Adventure” is easily the best treat for fans, in spite of its dated video game graphics. The creators produced more than an episode worth of in-game cinematics and used the original cast members and writers, so if you can get past the creaky CGI graphics you’ll find what amounts to a previously unknown episode ready for your viewing pleasure. The apparently crappy actual gameplay is almost completely removed from this feature, leaving just the amusing cinematics neatly edited together.

With two movies down and two yet to come, the Futurama team is still firing on all cylinders and looks to continue their successful run based on the early scenes from the next film. It’s hard to believe that the real end of the line might be fast approaching when the fourth film is released next year, but for now we have a great new adventure and the promise of more to come.



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