Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Futurama: Bender's Big Score (2007)

Futurama: Bender's Big Score (2007)

'Futurama', surely one of the funniest comedies ever to grace the idiot box, was unjustly brought to an end back in 2003. Now, due to enduring interest in the series, it has been resurrected as four straight to DVD movies (which will also be broadcast episodically with additional scenes), the first of which, 'Bender's Big Score', was just recently released.

The show is set in the 31st Century and revolves around the bizarre exploits of the 'Planet Express' delivery company, which is composed of a wacky bunch of characters like Fry the pizza delivery boy from the 20th Century, Bender 'Bending' Rodriguez, a lewd robot, Leela, a tough cyclops woman, and Dr Zoidberg, a giant crab-like physician, among others. The plot of this new release is quite convoluted but it basically revolves around Internet scammers taking over the world and getting rich, and also using an equation that allows one way time travel to the past in order to plunder treasures from Earth's history. The time travel elements - they are actually handled quite well - will make your head spin towards the end, but the plot is effective in reintroducing a lot of the world and characters of Futurama. There are are several subplots, like the one involving Hermes the accountant being decapitated and having his head in a jar, and the more significant one about Fry's love for Leela (a weird continuity non sequitur given how the series ended).

Futurama is a bit like the Simpsons, only more visually inventive and over the top, and I think considerably funnier. The gags fly at the screen non-stop, both visual and verbal, and while some of them in this DVD movie are more miss than hit the overall impact is overwhelmingly positive. The show is still as smart, inventive, and witty as it ever was. There are also plenty of nods to the series throughout that are fun to spot for fans. The length of the episode seems to be a bit detrimental to its quality however; I think this sort of show works best in small chunks. The writers are also guilty of being a little slow paced at times, like with Fry's journey into the Arctic. The cast, however, have no problems and seem to have slipped back into their characters with ease and don't miss a beat - they're as funny as ever. And visually, the animation is about on par with the series, nothing more and nothing less (as far as I can tell).

While it doesn't quite reach the heights of the best of 'Futurama', 'Bender's Big Score' is still pretty darned good and golden for any fan of the series. Hopefully some of the flaws in this initial foray will be ironed out in future releases; whatever happens, I'm keenly anticipating them.

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