Futurama: Bender's Game
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The third feature-length film in the Futurama series. Bender (voice of John Di Maggio) ends up locked in a padded cell at the Hal Institute for Criminally Insane Robots when a game of Dungeons and Dragons goes horribly awry; Mom Corps is up to its old shenanigans and driving up the price of dark matter; and Mom (voice of Tress MacNeille)'s ex-husband, Professor Farnsworth (voice of Billy West), has created, by accident, a crystal made of 'pure anti-backwards' energy. These three plot strands come together in a grand pastiche of Tolkein and Dungeons and Dragons which finds the characters living in an alternate universe known as Cornwood.
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Bender's become obsessed with DND, Dungeons and Dragons and finds he has no imagination. He wants to discover why he's never really had one, and with the help of the little ones, but soon finds himself immersed in their world.
Meanwhile Planet Express is in crisis as the price of dark matter goes up, so the team, including Dr Zoidberg and the Professor have to find out why Mom has decided to knock up the prices.
This isn't the best of the 4 films, I found it less amusing than the series - and I thought Bender didn't have a much of a leading role, as this was meant to be his film. I liked the way they explored Leela's anger, and I was surprised this hasn't happened before. The animation is still spot on, it's just the story that needs to be a bit more refined, as it wasn't as funny as other Futurama films, or TV episodes, and I felt Matt didn't have a dig at others as much as he used to.
The Blu-Ray disk is a dream, all the extras on the DVD are here, sadly, some are still in SD, but it's nice to have the audio and video commentaries - making this a bit special for Futurama fans. There's even a featurette on Dungeons and Dragons if you like the game. I especially liked the featurette on genetics and how they morphed the characters into others. I also liked the "How To Draw "Futurama" In 83 Easy Steps Featurette", that was pretty cool as a fan.
The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD, which is good quality, and the mix is clear and fluid. The image is also perfect, and I've never seen the characters look so good - a steady 30Mbit/s at the best of times. The BD-50 really pays off on this release, and looks miles better than the DVD release.
This is a great blu-ray, shame the feature wasn't a bit better.
Film- 3.5/5, Blu-Ray- 5/5, Extras- 5/5.
Fun storyline, good use of the characters and themes and fantastic animation all around.
Besides some small sequences that drag on a bit, I can't really find reasons not to recommend this to fans or anyone curious about the franchise.
In the beginning of the film you are first introduced to a Futurama version on "Yellow Submarine". I believe this is just symbolic of how crazy the upcoming scenes get. Whilst driving about in the Planet Express Ship, Leela, Fry and Bender run out of fuel and luckily Nibbler had one ball of dark matter, which was enough to get the ship to a petrol station. The same guy Sal (John DiMaggio) that always seems to be at one of these stations makes fun of the crew's ship. Sal states even though his ship is beat up, he won the Space Destruction Derby five times. Due to Leela's unrelenting anger issues, she decides to enter the derby and later returns the ship severely damaged.
Later, Dwight Conrad (Hermes Son voiced by Phil LaMarr) and Cubert Farnsworth (the Professor's son voiced by Kath Soucie) are playing a game of "Dungeons and Dragons". Bender thinking that it is a form of gambling, wants to join in, only to find out that it is nothing like that. Dwight and Conrad tell Bender that it is the kind of game that you have to use your imagination and anything will be possible. Bender is finally able to use his imagination, but causes him to go mad, believing everything that happens in real life is happening in "Cornwood" (fictitious Dungeons and Dragons land).
The Professor annoyed with Leela's anger issues, has a shock collar put around Leela's neck, so anytime she has any thoughts or act of violence, thoughts of sexual perversion and/or lies, she will be electrically shocked. Mom appears in an interview with Morbo discussing the "problems" of dark matter and that she hopes to take care of them soon. The Professor perturbed at the interview explains how he created dark matter as a usable energy source. He further explains that Mom has the positive crystal and he has a negative crystal that he cannot find. He says that if the two crystals come together, that it will make dark matter useless. Mom tries to avoid the destruction of dark matter by sending her sons as "Owl Exterminators" to retrieve the crystal.
The Professor sees past the boys ruse and finds out that his anti-matter crystal was being used as a die in the Dungeons and Dragons game. Bender having completely gone mad is submitted to the HAL Institute which cannot help his problem. The crew heads over to Mom's base to destroy her crystal. While, the professor is able to get the two crystals to come in close contact, which causes the dark matter to glow, it somehow amplifies Bender's imagination to send everyone to Cornwood.
From this point on the crew are each changed into a Dungeons and Dragon character or a "Lord of the Rings" character. Cornwood is essentially Lord of the Rings with Dungeons and Dragons theme to it. The rest of Futurama: Bender's Game tries to wrap up the convoluted story as much as possible. Overall Futurama: Bender's Game is very silly. This is a good thing as they brought back much of the Futurama humour and have many jokes about things you may have forgotten from the 1990's. I felt that this adventure is a big step in the right direction from Futurama: The Beast with A Billion Backs as this was actually funny. Futurama fans should enjoy this as long as they just relax and enjoy it as it is without preconceived notions and realise it is very silly.
Futurama: Bender's Game is presented in the 1.78:1 (16:9) format. The picture was crystal clear throughout and I could not find any skipping, frozen frames or blur in the picture.
The sound is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. The sound was very well done throughout, but since they decided to make this like the television series, you do not get much in terms of cinematic sound. The voice actors voices were always clearly audible in the centre speaker during the talking scenes, which for some films can sometimes be problematic.
The special features are rather dull. There are not too many special features and even when you think you find something good such as a deleted scene, it is just a story board with sound. The team that assembled this DVD got rather lazy as far as extra features go.
Special Features: 3
The first thing I would like to say to Futurama fans is: DO NOT watch this as if it is a film nor should you have ideas floating around in your head about how great/awful it will be. You need to just sit back and watch it as if you are watching the show and enjoy the silliness of this adventure. I found the part when the crew ran into Zoidberg in "The Cave of Hopelessness" and what happens to him reminiscent of Maria in the video game "Silent Hill 2". If you played the game, it may give you a chuckle, if not, you will enjoy it all the same. Whilst, I wish that Futurama: Bender's Game was produced as a film rather than a four-part TV series, it made me chuckle several times. I recommend this DVD/Bluray to fans of Futurama as it is a very silly one that makes up for the disaster that was Futurama: The Beast with A Billion Backs and I definitely recommend this to casual Futurama fans.
NOTE: A DVD was used for this review.