on May 24, 2008
I am a huge fan of 'Futurama'. I love its characters, its ridiculous situations... everything about it. It was the sharpest animated comedy on television (better than even the mighty 'Simpsons', which had already started to go off the rails slightly by the time that 'Futurama' first appeared). I have all of the episodes and have watched them to death, so I was delighted and excited when I heard that four new DVD movies were being made. And although it isn't 100% perfect, it makes a reasonable return.
I got my copy from US import (to get it sooner) and couldn't wait for it to arrive.
My main worry was that, after around five years out of production, that the sharpness of the original series would be lost. But I need not have worried. Although I wouldn't say that it is a classic example of 'Futurama', the characters and sharp lines are still very much on form.
The plot itself isn't really one of 'Futurama's best, but it has a lot of twists and turns and some good moments along the way.
The opening few minutes, as Planet Express goes back into business, are probably the best, and it's great to see our show "back on air". The minutes after that as the real story kicks in are good, and although things start to loose their way slightly later on, the gags hold up well enough to see things through.
Without giving too much away, the way that things are finally wrapped up and explained is pleasing, but you do have to pay attention and stick with it.
Leela and in particular Fry get a lot of screen time, as does Bender - who (being many fans favourite character) is very much used as the selling point of this DVD, even getting his name in the title. He has some good lines, but spends a great deal of the story suffering a computer virus and working for his crooked new bosses, which is a slight shame, as we don't get much of 'typical Bender'.
As others have commented, there is the sub-plot with Hermes - probably the dullest of the regular characters. But at least he had something to do here, and I personally didn't mind it too much.
As well as the main characters, there are a number of secondary characters from various episodes putting in appearances, and it's nice trying to name them all - however, I did feel that one or two of them were stuck in just for the sake of it.
The picture size is widescreen (it's a shame that the original episodes weren't in this format, as they would have looked great), and it looks really good. The animation for the most part is extremely sharp, and looks great.
Like the original television episodes (and the classic-era 'Simpsons'), it is one of those things that not only can you watch again, but actually improves from repeat viewings, as there are new little things and hidden gags that you'll notice each time.
The main drawback is, as a few other reviewers have said, is that the expansion to 90 minutes doesn't completely work in places. Later on, some of the story starts to feel slightly 'bitty', especially with a number of new timelines opening up that gets rather confusing upon first viewing. But I have to say, it didn't completely fall flat either. The expanded time gives more room for exploration into the various plots, and there are more than enough good jokes to keep things bobbing along.
If you are new to 'Futurama' then although you may still enjoy moments of this movie, some of it maybe be slightly confusing or lost on you; I'd say check out the original season by season box sets first, you won't be disappointed.
There are a nice array of extras on the DVD, including a commentary by various cast & crew, a live comic book reading (still comic book pictures with voiceovers from the cast), a few deleted scenes, a maths-in-Futurama lecture, and a whole episode of 'Hypnotoad'(!).
All-in-all, although not a classic example of 'Futurama', this is a welcome return to our screens - and while it maybe unfair to compare, I have to say, it comes off much better than the watchable but ultimately somewhat disappointing 'Simpsons' movie.
At very least, it acts as a warm up, and the next three DVD movies look set to be good ones.