The movie is hilarious and they surely don’t skimp on the trimmings with a bounty of wonderful special features that any Futurama fan will be sure to enjoy. This disc might have just made a new Futurama fan out of me.
  • OVERALL
    4.0
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Picture
  • Sound
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
Wonderful voice acting, terrific writing and a plethora of special features.
THE BAD
Not all of the gags are hits and some of the special features are lame.
THE FEATURE
I've never really been a TV guy and Futurama is one of the many shows that I never caught on the air during its initial run on Fox and even the subsequent airings on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup. Yes, I've seen parts of episodes before, and they looked pretty funny, but for TV, something has really got to blow me away for me to follow it regularly. Now the series is off the air but it lives again on DVD with a new DVD series. First up was Futurama: Bender's Big Score last November and now the second straight-to-DVD film has just been released, Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs. Even for a guy who never followed the show, I thought it was pretty damn funny and quite an entertaining ride.

The movie basically starts out with a giant hole being ripped in the sky, a scientific anomaly, if you will. All are puzzled by this strange occurrence and once they realize that they can't send anything mechanical through the hole (after a valiant effort by Bender), they send Fry (Billy West) out into the void where he discovers a huge tentacled creature, Yivo (David Cross) lies on the other side and the tentacles start coming after all the human inhabitants. However, people really dig the tentacle, in a cultish sort of way and Fry is the new Pope-ish figure trying to get everyone to convert to the tentacle, while Leela (Katey Sagal) still remains skeptical.

There is some pretty damn funny stuff here, folks. The writing from Michael Rowe, which was overseen by creators Matt Groening and David X. Cohen, is as sharp as ever, poking satirical fun at many aspects of our culture. While the same old gang in the voice cast is back, Billy West, Katey Segal, John DiMaggio and many others, we get a fresh helping of guest voices as well. David Cross was just perfectly cast as the voice of Yivo, the tentacle title creature and likewise perfect casting with Brittany Murphy as Fry's promiscuous girlfriend Colleen. Also look for even smaller parts from Dan Castenella as Robot Devil and Stephen J. Hawking as himself... well, as his own floating head.

For a guy who never really watched the show that much, I must say I was quite entertained by Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs. It features some deft wit and a colorful cast of characters that really bring the laughs home.
THE EXTRAS
We get some very nice features on this straight-to-DVD disc, and it gets kicked off with a Futurama episode that very few have seen. Futurama: The Lost Adventure is a full-length episode that was used in production of the Futurama video game, and apparently, according to my interview with co-creator David X. Cohen, you only see this piece if you finish the whole game. While it features the same sort of humor, the characters are presented look like they're from the video game, not the cartoon. They even cut to parts that are from the actual game itself, mainly whenever there is a brief "action" scene. The story deals with Wernstrom selling Planet Express to Mom and the whole universe falling out of order, and it's a nice little bonus episode for the fans.

Storyboard Animatic is up next and it's basically a bunch of the old storyboards with a lot of the normal sounds and dialogue from the movie. It's interesting to see some of the original concept sketches and everything, but it's a little weird. It takes us through the first 21 minutes or so of the movie and it's a bit much. It's kind of like watching the same movie over again... just with plain sketches and none of the bells and whistles. Kind of odd.

We get some Deleted Scenes next and some of them are just the storyboards or animatics. There are 6 in all and only one is an actual deleted scene, with color and everything. The irony is that the color one is the worst one. The alternate opening is pretty funny, actually and about half of these are funny. Still, they're all only a little over three minutes long, so they're worth a look.

A David Cross Featurette: Meet Yivo is next and it's a nice little featurette with Cross himself describing the character, during his voice-over sessions, and parts of the movie intercut in. It's only two minutes long but it's a funny look at a very funny guy who, apparently has 9 human senses. Hilarity.

Blooperama shows us some bloopers from the voice actors as their trying to record certain parts of the movie. It's only two minutes long and it's not terribly funny but it's interesting to see the environment these voice actors work in. Not the best on here but it's only two minutes...

3D Models With Animator Discussion is next and it's just a bunch of storyboard/digital things of different parts of the movie with commentary from... well, we don't really know. It's a lot of tech jargon and it's kind of boring, actually. Each little segment is only about a half-minute to a minute long and the whole deal is just over 4 minutes long. Unless you're an animator, I'd skip this one.

Next up is A Brief History of Deathball, which is basically a bunch of designs with some commentary with director Peter Avanzino talking about the Deathball game that they play to settle scores, and such. It's essentially that game you play as a kid where you swivel the board and try to get the balls to drop through the holes in the board. This one is short and sweet too, only a few minutes, and it's semi-interesting.

Last up we get Bender's Game: A Sneak Peek At The Next Futurama Epic. It looks pretty dang funny, as usual, and it looks like they're poking fun at the fantasy genre (especially Lord of the Rings amongst others). Like usual, it's only a few minutes long but it gives you a nice glimpse into this upcoming disc, that, according to the end of this featurette, will come out in late 2008.
THE VIDEO
The disc is presented in the widescreen format, in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
THE AUDIO
The sound is handled through the Dolby Digital Surround Sound 5.1 format.
THE PACKAGE
Well, I just got a screener disc, but the front cover, from what I've seen online, features Leela's character being held by a big tentacle (King Kong style-ish) with Bender, Fry and Amy all looking up in horror, and stuff. Not sure what's on the back though.
THE FINAL WORD
Overall, this is a damn fine disc. The movie is hilarious and they surely don't skimp on the trimmings with a bounty of wonderful special features that any Futurama fan will be sure to enjoy. This disc might have just made a new Futurama fan out of me.

Do you like this review?

Comments (7)

  1. Courtney O.

    Pretty sweet!

    6 years agoby @chickflickFlag

  2. Brian Gallagher

    Haha yes, I wouldn't doubt it if was an ongoing Futurama theme. I interviewed David X. Cohen twice and that wouldn't surprise me:)

    Thanks for the props. Should have more reviews up today.

    Peace in. Gallagher out!

    6 years agoby @gallagherFlag

  3. Phatlightning

    I see what your saying, but to be honest, every futurama show has the characters being easily persuaded.. lol basically because they're retarded.. haha which maybe is the perception of the entire human race.. still, I enjoy your reviews.

    6 years agoby @sxers2k1Flag

  4. Brian Gallagher

    Phat, I can see your point but I thought it was great because it had a lot to say under the surface, about how easily led we are as a society. He never really was a good guy at all, the way I saw it, which is why they had Leela going against him the whole time and she turned out being right.

    Oh well. Perhaps we should just agree to disagree, Phat:)

    BG

    6 years agoby @gallagherFlag

  5. T.Clark

    If you wanna catch up on the latest episodes, the show switched from Adult Swim to Comedy Central, every week night at 9:00. Just a bit of info you might be interested in. I haven't seen this, but I'm weery of it after reading Phat's comments. Good review, though

    6 years agoby @insertusernamehereFlag

  6. Phatlightning

    I'm sorry, but again I must disagree. I saw this a few days ago and was really anticipating it due to the fact that the first movie was amazing. I'm an avid fan of Futurama so I know the kind of humor to expect.

    This movie was just lacking in story. Let's be honest, the story made NO DAMN SENSE. At first there was a bad guy, Yivo, then they flip the script when they find out why he is really there, so he leaves and then they go on dates? So now he is the good guy? Then the escallators to his planet?

    All in all this movie didn't follow the flow of the show or the feel that the show brings at all. Watching it with some other buddies who basically live and die by Futurama, they were disgusted as well, the beginning started off good because they were establishing Yivo as bad, then about halfway thru it all goes downhill and the movie makes no sense whatsoever.

    I can see why you could like it because you never really watch Futurama, however if you had seen some of the other episodes/movies, you could probably see my point.

    6 years agoby @sxers2k1Flag

  7. Brian

    Rad.

    6 years agoby @brianFlag