Futurama: Bender's Game DVD: Review By Brian Gallagher

Futurama: Bender’s Game is another funny straight-to-DVD continuation of the popular series, but it’s not quite as funny as the last one. Still, if you’re a Futurama fan, this disc will likely be a welcome addition to your collection.
  • OVERALL
    3.5
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Picture
  • Sound
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
Some great voice work, animation and a lot of pretty funny stuff here. Some great special features as well
THE BAD
They try to cram WAY too much into this movie and they should've made this easier to follow. Some of the features weren't that great either.
THE FEATURE
After the second straight-to-DVD Futurama installment, {DVsXoAtzKQZAxs||Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs}, made a pretty decent Futurama fan out of me, I was actually looking forward to the third of four planned DVD's, {DVc56hgeWlLkfd||Futurama: Bender's Game}. From the preview I saw on the second disc, it looked like they were poking fun at the fantasy genre a bit and I was pretty psyched to check this out. When I did finally see this, though, it wasn't quite as funny as I'd hoped, but still rather entertaining.

This film basically focuses on two separate tales that come together, with Bender's newfound obsession with imagination that he thought he never had and the roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons, and the Planet Express crew trying to take down Mom's evil empire over dark matter, the fuel they use to power their ships, and the timely theme of crazy increases in fuel pricing. Bender comes across some of the youngsters in the ship playing Dungeons and Dragons and discovers that he has never really imagined anything before in his life. When he harnesses the power of imagination... he pretty much goes wild, of sorts, taking to the name Titanius Anglesmith, FancyMan of Cornwall, and he becomes obsessed with slaying imaginary things in the real world, oftentimes with disastrous results. The other story starts off with a few rednecks making fun of the Planet Express ship, which ticks off Leela and gets her to enter a demolition derby contest just to spite the rednecks... despite Professor Farnsworth ordering the crew to not waste so much fuel. With dark matter prices rising and rising, they set off to stop Mom - who Farnsworth used to work for - and put an end to her little dark matter operation.

What makes this one not quite as good as the last, is there's actually way too much going on here. They pile on subplot after subplot in this 88-minute affair and they really needed to trim the fat a little bit here. The main throughlines of the story were solid, and the Futurama timely brand of humor is still well intact, poking fun at the rising gas prices, roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons and even ripping on Lord of the Rings a bit here. They have a pretty nice little twist as well, as we go to this mysterious land of Cornwall (in semi-confusing fashion, however), but, it really just seems there's way too much going on here and a lot of this needs to be either cut, condensed or simplified.

The voice work is great as usual, with the Futurama crew of Billy West, John DiMaggio, Katey Segal, Tress MacNeille, Maruice LaMarche, Phil Lamarr, David Hermann and Frank Welker still at the top of their game. We also get a couple of great guest voices in George Takei as himself (in a great bit at the demolition derby where he's blaming Scott Bakula for tanking the Star Trek franchise) and Rich Little as the announcer of the derby.

{DVc56hgeWlLkfd||Futurama: Bender's Game} is, overall, another entertaining journey through this bizarre world, but it isn't quite as good as the last entry. I'm not sure what will happen after the fourth and last planned DVD, {DVJCyMLLA4mRNQ||Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder}, or if they'll make more DVD's after this... but they should really not to be so ambitious with these if they do try to make more.
THE EXTRAS
We do get a healthy amount of features on this disc and it gets started with a Storyboard Animatic. I've never really liked these things before, because it's just a bunch of concept art strung together as the real movie with some cheesy sounds. It's about 20 minutes long and there really isn't much difference between the material here and the film itself... besides the fact that it's just storyboards with no animation, which is even less of a reason to watch this.

Futurama Genetics Lab is next and it's an interesting little game of sorts where you can see what happens when you crossbreed two different characters from the show. They have Fry, Leela, Zoidberg, Bender, Morbo, Professor Farnsworth and that toad thing whose name I can't recall and you just click on two of the characters and hit the Merge button to see what they'd look like if they actually crossbred. Some pretty funny... and creepy stuff on here.

Next up is D&D&D (Dungeons & Dragons & Futurama) and this little featurette talks about the influence that Dungeons & Dungeons had on the series and this film. We hear from executive producer David X. Cohen and two of the writers of the show. We see some clips of Futurama episodes and shows these parts where they show D&D references that are peppered throughout the show. It's a cute little seven-minute featurette that shows how this game had an impact on the show, the movie and those who created it.

How to Draw Futurama in 83 Easy Steps is next and they actually do show someone draw some of the characters. They start with Zoidberg and assistant director Derek Thompson actually drawing Zoidberg from scratch, telling us his process along the way. Next is Rich Moore who shows us how to draw Leela, and he starts out by calling his assistant Leela to draw her for him. The last one is with Dwayne Carey-Hill, the director of this film, shows us how to draw Bender. It's about eight minutes long and it's an interesting look at how to draw these characters from scratch.

3D Models with Animator Discussion is next and this just shows us some of the ships from the demolition derby sequence, with some unnamed animators talking over it. It's kind of funny here and there, but you could probably skip this five-minute featurette.

Next up is a Deleted Scene entitled Cup or Nozzle, which is where the kids on the ship go to some ice cream-like shop and are asked if they want a cup or the nozzle. It's a minute long and not worth watching.

Blooperama 2 give us some outtakes from the film. Obviously, they're outtakes from the recording session and it's interesting that they actually have everyone in the room together, but they aren't really that funny and it's just under two minutes long.

Bender's Anti-Piracy Warning is next and this little minute-long thing is actually well worth watching. They're riffing off those "You wouldn't steal a ___" movie downloading commercials and this one has the announcer asking Bender "You wouldn't steal this, would you?" and Bender replying that he'd pretty much steal anything. It's a pretty funny little minute, folks.

The last thing we get here is a little preview of the fourth (and last?) of these straight-to-DVD Futurama titles, Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder. It's only about a minute but, from the looks of it, does seem that they might make this the last one after all. We shall see in February though...
THE VIDEO
The disc is presented in the widescreen format, in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio.
THE AUDIO
The sound is handled through the Dolby Digital format, with a subwoofer channel.
THE PACKAGE
OK, I just got a screener disc with no packaging on this one, but the front cover features Fry atop Leela when she's turned into a half chick/half horse thing, with Bender in his knight regalia and a dragon. Not sure what's on the back though.
THE FINAL WORD
Futurama: Bender's Game is another funny straight-to-DVD continuation of the popular series, but it's not quite as funny as the last one. Still, if you're a Futurama fan, this disc will likely be a welcome addition to your collection.

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