on 22 March 2009
Having been a big fan of Futurama the series, it was great news that there were to be feature-length episodes. For what it's worth, I thought that Bender's Big Score was a really good start, Beast With A Billion Backs held its own as essentially an extra-long episode, and Bender's Game could rival the others once it got into its pace.
Unfortunately, I'd say that Into The Wild Green Yonder is the weakest of the DVDs. Whereas Bender's Game was a well structured story that picked up once it reached a certain point, this is more all over the place and inconsistent in its humour and quality. It brings some minor characters more into the frame but these aren't developed much so don't work as well as the old favourites.
The humour is still in the vein of the Futurama feature-length episodes (slightly different to the series) but focuses less on the big laughs and more on progressing an impressively multi-stranded storyline and on satirising capitalism and environmentalism.
All that said, there are a lot of little laughs in the episode, some good visual silliness and a typical Bender side story which I felt absolutely steals the show from the Fry-focused storyline.
If you're a Futurama fan and have seen the other feature-length episodes, it's worth getting this. If you haven't bothered with the feature-length episodes or you're coming to Futurama for the first time, this isn't where to start.
on 19 February 2009
If you already own the boxsets of Futurama, and have enjoyed the movies, its probably a safe bet to say you can stop reading here and buy this. You wont be disappointed. The last of the 4 straight-to-DVD movies is undoubtedly the best, with the team back on form for the last (?) outing for the crew.
The plot, in standard futurama fashion, manages to evolve and take its time, rather than jumping in and rushing. For fans of the series, there are a number of clever in-jokes, and several long running plot lines are wrapped up. As well as being one of the funniest pieces of film I've seen in a while, with the Robot Don's appearance being particularly good, there are some genuinely touching moments, with a conclusion that is both heartwarming and emotional, and will leave many fans with a lump in their throat.
So is it the end? The conclusion is suitably satisfying, while being left open enough to be continued. So here's hoping....
on 24 February 2009
Could this be the end of Futurama? Let's hope not!
From 2003 - 2007 we have had to not only put up with no Futurama but awful Simpsons episodes, despite the fact it isn't funny anymore!
With the successful sales of the first 3 DVDs and a satisfying and EPIC conclusion to this 'season', all we can do is keep our fingers crossed for more of the Planet Express crew!
Buy this DVD!
on 28 February 2009
Where do you start when writing a review to what could possibly be the last episode in a truly classic series. Expectations were high for series 5 when the films were announced and these expectations weren't met (in my opinion).
A good place to start would be by my views on the series and the films. I've been a huge Futurama fan since 'Space Pilot 3000' in 1999 right up to the final episode 'The Devils Hands are Idle Playthings'. Every episode was a gem exploring complex themes, honouring established sci-fi while poking fun at it and delving into new realms of alternate reality. At the center of the show were the characters which gave the show heart and an emotional attachment to these 2D animated characters. More than most TV programmes (animated or not) you felt a connection to the characters.
I recieved the news of series 5 been released in the form of straight to DVD films with some trepidation but more Futurama is better than nothing. And so, my thoughts on the three previous films.
Benders Big Score: The first film was cleverly written and, due to the time travelling nature, required multiple viewings to get all the jokes. It wasn't until you know how it ends that you can appreciate some of the scenes and jokes throughout the film. The film had the usual madcap sci-fi themes and the characterisation was brilliant. Further exploring Fry's feelings for Leela (feelings that span 1000 years) almost brought a tear to my eye. There are so many in-jokes that only a futurama fan would get it's unbeliebable, but a futurama newbie would appreciate the film as a whole. Overall 8/10
The Beast with a Billion Backs: On first viewing I was dissapointed with this episode. My main concern was the lack of emotional pull that the series was renowned for. The film seemed to lack the interaction between certain characters and a divergence from established character personality traits. Upon further viewings I appreciated the film on different levels but still dont rate it highly. Overall 6/10
Benders Game: The less said the better. Ridiculous plot, no charaterisation and poorly parodies other films, namely Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. Although a redeeming feature is that you learn some important facts about beloved characters. Overall 5/10
And now for the main event, Into the wild green yonder. Like most fans of the series I'm a fan of the stories, the absurd sci-fi mumbo jumbo, the themes consistent throughout the episodes but most of all the characters. In these respects the film delivers in spades. Each scene has something a fan couldn't resist but grin out and quite often laugh-out-loud at. One instance is Hermes's derision of Labarbara's attempt at one of his famous rhyming exclamations ('Sweet something of someplace', for example).
Out of all the films, this one brings the best out of all the characters (with the possible exception of Professor Farnsworth). The film centres around Fry's inabilty to have his mind read (due to his lack of the Delta brainwave since he got 'nasty in the pasty' and he is his own granfather). Fry's ability to read the minds of others isn't fully explained or explored but his apparent opposition to Leela leads to some friction between them which finally resolves to the conclusion we have all been wainting for.
I really don't want to give much away but this film has a satisfying ending. Not everything is wrapped up suitably but trying to wrap up 4 series of stellar episodes in 4 films isn't an easy task. But this film does a decent job and hints at the possibility of more to come.
Now for the Blu Ray disc review
I have literally never seen an animation look so good. The outlines are sharp, the colours are bright and the motion is smooth. I watched it on a 1080p Panasonic 42 inch Plasma and loved every second. It's not eye poppingly brilliant but it is crystal clear and the only way to watch the finale of a cult sci-fi series. I've watched the DVD's upscaled to 720p (via PS3) and there is no comparison. This Blu Ray wins hands downn in visual clarity. Overall 9/10
The sound is presented in DTS. I have a 7.1 system and noted some sublime ambient sound in certain scenes. The majority of the film is dialogue and so comes from the front speakers but the sound is always sharp and clear with few surround sound effects. Overall 8/10
This film is a must for all Futurama and sci-fi fans. The four films didn't live up to the heights of the series but this is well worth the extra money for the blu ray. Go on, treat yourself. You know you want to.
on 6 June 2009
Matt Groening's second most successful animated series still pops up from time to time with feature-length specials, despite the parent show ending some years ago. After the brilliant `Bender's Game', I found this latest offering ever so slightly disappointing; less coherent, less imaginative, and perhaps a little tired; I nonetheless enjoyed it from start to finish, as there is still enough surreal humour and invention, and plenty of cheeky references, to make this a highly entertaining 90 minutes. It was still better than 'The Beast With a Billion Backs', but hopefully - as it seems to be - this isn't the last we'll see of Fry, Leela, and the Planet Express gang.
The DVD extras are adequate but nothing to write home about. `Docudramarama: How We Make Futurama So Good' is probablly the best thing here, as it showcases Lauren Tom (Amy) taking viewers on a step-by-step process of how an episode is created, mixing fact with fun.
`Louder, Louder: The Acting Technique of Penn Jillette' briefly shows the magician at work doing his voiceover segment, since he appears as himself in the film.
` Matt & David In Space' pointlessly follows the co-producers as they head off for a day of zero-g weightlessness aboard the famous plane used expressly for such purpose. A short feature on storyboarding for the movie and a couple of superfluous clip selections from previous DVDs, finish the extras off.
on 15 July 2010
It was a good film all in all but I did find the plot a bit strange at times. This film had to be amazing as it's basically the last ever Futurama but for me it could have been better. The start of the film was just like an ordinary episode and I was starting to find it better than the first 2 films. The whole "Legion of Mad Fellows" really confused me and I don't think that the fry sub-plot was really that good.
The film didn't really have a 'Wow' moment in it and after seeing the ending lots of times, I still don't know what to make of it. I just think that they rushed the ending and I would have preferred it if it just ended like normal, with the twist of Fry and Leela together still there. I felt that the black hole cliff-hanger was just a bit too 'big' of a cliff-hanger for me. But that's just my opinion.
Out of all of the films my favourite was 'The Beast With A Billion Backs' then 'Benders Big Score' then 'Into The Wild Green Yonder' and finally 'Benders Game' as my favourite! As much as I enjoy watching Futurama, I think the films have marked that it has ended its course. I would give it 4.5 stars
on 25 February 2009
In all my reviews for these films I thought they were great at the time only to find the subsequent film better. I think I gave a couple of the others 5 stars when compared to this one they by no means deserve it.
This is the first film that feels like one of the episodes. The jokes come thick and fast and provide many laugh out loud moments. A couple of times my housemates and I were laughing for so long that we had to rewind to hear the bits we'd missed. There are lines in it that are still making me chuckle as I write this.
The end is a bit odd and perhaps unnecessary but I suppose it does fit as a possible farewell from the writers.
There are a couple of special features that had an amazing sounding description but turned out to be disappointments. For instance one of them is "Zapp Branningans guide to making love at a woman" which is just a bunch of clips from the series of things he's said to Leela. Likewise "Bender's movie theatre etiquette" is merely the seen from "Raging Bender" in series 2 dubbed over with new dialogue.
In summary: This film is very good. Buy this and don't bother with the other films unless you feel overly compelled and the sooner they make a new series the better.
Fourth and final release in a series of feature length futurama movies. Since the only people who will read this will be fans of the show there's no need for me to go into details about it for anyone who isn't.
And despite the fact that some seem to have been disappointed with the quality of the first three you'll doubtless have brought them and will buy this anyway, so you'll know that it's four episodes of twenty two minutes duration edited together into one long movie.
In this one fry gains the ability to read minds and falls in with a secret sect. Amy's parents wreak ecological havoc in the quest to build bigger and better casinos and golf courses, and leela takes affirmative action to protect the environment.
But somewhere out there, an ancient evil is lurking...
This didn't sound the strongest plot but in many ways it's the best written of the four. things click in the second episode and it all comes together very well afterwards.
But even so there's the usual quickfire humour and pretty much every joke works so there's enough to keep you entertained in the meantime.
Since this is the last of this batch and there's no guarantee that there will be any more, the ending has to wrap things up and also leave it open for the show to return if possible. And it manages to do just that in a scene that will make you gasp and leave you desperate for more. And you'll be so absorbed in your reaction that you won't initially notice that kif's uniform changes colour for no apparent reason.
This will make you laugh, it will make you smile, and it will make you desperate for more. Please come back futurama. I miss you already.
The sole language track on the dvd is english.
and the subtitles are english danish finnish norwegian and swedish.
the extras are:
a commentary from some of the cast and crew
storyboard animatic: the first of the four episodes in rough drawing form, with all the dialogue but no music. This actually has a to be continued moment at the end which you wont see in the movie by virtue of it being edited together.
docudrama: how we make futurama so good: a short and totally made up spoof documentary [presented by 'dvd bonus features that nobody watches productions'] showing you how they make the show. not really. but it's very funny.
louder louder!: a very short feature showing magician penn jillette who guests in this recording his part. quite fun to watch.
golden stinkers: five very short deleted scenes that can be watched individually or all at once. they only add up to roughly six minutes in total, and some don't have finished animation but they're all very good.
matt groening and david x cohen in space!: a short film showing how two of the production crew took a flight on a plane that lets you experience zero gravity. well worth watching and it will make you fancy doing it yourself.
how to draw futurama in 18 very difficult steps: eleven minutes worth of film showing how the animators draw four of the characters. not much humour in this despite a few efforts so it's really only of interest to those who want to learn the art.
3-d models with animator discussion: just what it says. short film of spaceships and other big things from this showing how they were animated. short enough to keep the interest.
benders movie theatre etiquette is a fun little bit of all new film showing how you should/shouldnt behave in the cinema. well worth a look.
zapp brannigan's guide to making love to a woman uses clips of zapp from old episodes with a new voiceover to give his guide to relationships. not quite as funny as the above bender item but still worth watching.
I managed to find two easter eggs on the dvd:
watching it on a computer and moving the pointer over the right of the special features screen when you have it at the point where you can select to watch louder louder! will light up a symbol. click on this to see film of actor billy zane improvising some dialogue that was forced on the production team by circumstance.
and if you move the down button on the controls when on the special features screen as far down as it will go you can get to see a short bit of animation drawn by one of the animators on rather rough paper. you'll see what I mean.
Hopefully not the end for the show, but a good release to go out on
on 29 April 2009
"Into the Wild Green Yonder" does indeed have some moments of the high humour one would expect of the Futurama crew. There are arguably several strong leitmotifs present; such as a broadly anti-megalomaniac bent and a clear eco-friendly theme which have been continuing elements in the Futurama series.
Annoyingly though, there is only miniscule reference to previous events - such as the portentous end-note of "Bender's Game." And, for what is espoused as the grand finale for the entire Futurama canon, there was no convincing wrap-up of the series, no all encompassing conclusion and little by way of involvement of key but supporting characters. Mom, Morbo, Nixon, Lrrr et al had disproportionately minor roles relative to Leo and Ines Wong, whose characters appeared thin and under developed: a telling sign they make worthwhile feature in only two or three previous episodes. Furthermore, there were too many new elements to the story. The much hyped (amongst Futurama followers) explanation of the "9-Guy" was disappointing, the link to the lead character in this case tenuous. It would have perhaps been better to avoid explanation of such minutiae and leave it for speculation, in the vein of the better Futurama episodes. The recurring theme of mini-golf is one which, whilst it has its amusing points, becomes tiresome and forces this review to ask why, of the pantheon of science fiction available to spoof, mini golf was chosen to finalise one of the most followed cult sci fi series.
Drawing on the last note, where more sci-fi spoofing would have been better in the theme of the episode, it would also have been better suited to the humour. In "Into the Wild Green Yonder," the humour is overtly slapstick, which may be to the tastes of many but is far below the multi-layered humour of the best Futurama.
This all said, the episode is overall entertaining and a good way to spend 90-or-so minutes. Personally, I would argue that it lacks the re-watchability of some of the better episodes, but mekes convincing eco-related notion. I think "Into the Wild Green Yonder" would have made an excellent single-episode, compact and concise and dispensing with the filler so evident here.
on 8 March 2009
It looks like this is going to be the last Futurama for a while, possibly forever. Now I had very low expectations for this, after the complete shash that was served up with Bender's Game it seemed like Fox was not only kicking a dead donkey in hope of amusement, but forcibly dragging it through fields of barbed wire. As you can imagine, highly distasteful and painful to watch. But Wild Green Yonder is something different. OK, the plot is sketchy at times, one or two gags fall past the post and Bender often seems relegated to light one-lining duty. However, the material is solid stuff, there are some moments of outstanding comedy, and others of pure sci-fi brilliance
It also features the welcome guest voices of Seth MacFarlane and Snoop Dogg. Not only that, but it's capped off with a liberal scoop of that Futurama, warm-inside, outlandish sentimentality which has been missing from the last two DVDs.
Long-term fans will be pleased to know that all major loose ends are tied up nicely before the ninety minutes is up and the ending leaves continuation open.
Overall, this Futurama movie leaves you fullfilled in a way that I thought had finally disappeared from the series. Sure, there are nits to pick and all that, but when the credits roll I defy any long-term fan not to feel those goosebumps on your neck stand on end, because despite the rough patches it's gone through recently, 'Into the Wild Green Yonder' takes this beloved animated series out on a high note. A deserving ending to the series... if indeed this is the end... If it is: Goodbye Futurama We'll Miss You