(aka 'Futurama: Bender's Game')
Directed by Dwayne Carey-Hill
At once a merciless skewering of all things fanboy and an extremely satisfying addition to the Futurama franchise, Bender's Game is among the best of the animated series' feature length adventures. The game in question is Dungeons and Dragons, and Bender wants in--only robots aren't programmed with the necessary imagination. Naturally, Bender's plans to develop one go completely awry and land him in an android asylum. The role-playing plotline later re-emerges--in typically convoluted Futurama fashion--via a subplot involving Professor Farnsworth's conversion of dark matter into spaceship fuel, which created a key to a very D&D-influenced universe where our hapless heroes eventually find themselves. The alternate world storyline allows for much lampooning of fantasy tropes, with Lord of the Rings receiving the lion's share of the tweaks. Seeing as how the writers have already devoted much of the movie's running time to parodying Star Wars and Star Trek (and their Lego offshoots), one might think that Bender's Game might suffer from pop-culture overload, but surprisingly, it all feels fresh and frequently funny, and the writers are wise to ground the story in their eccentric characters rather than pinballing them through an endless string of gags. The result is probably the strongest of the direct-to-DVD Futurama releases to date, and one that newcomers to the show's cracked universe can appreciate as much as longtime fans!
Release Date: November 3rd, 2008
DVD Review: 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||20th Century Fox Home Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 2.97 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 5.1)|
|Subtitles||English, Spanish, French, None|
Commentary with creator Matt Groening, executive producer David X.
Cohen, voice actors Billy West, John DiMaggio and Tress MacNeille,
director Dwayne Carey-Hill, co-writer Mike Rowe and producer Claudia
Genetics Lab (fuse two characters)
Once again, as with Futurama's Beast with a Billion Backs, I have a caveat to state here - this DVD was sent to me as a screener and occasionally the Fox logo pops up into alternating corners of the screen. I strongly suspect that the disc itself is of somewhat lesser quality (it is only single-layered) than will be commercially available... but they sent it to me to review - so here it goes.
The animation looks very strong excepting the occasional artifacts that probably won't appear, or be as prevalent in the eventual consumer product - which must be dual-layered. It is anamorphic and colors look bright - it is also progressive. Although this is the first Futurama movie to go 1080P (Blu-ray HERE) I'll wager that it won't be demonstratively superior to the SD-DVD. This single-layered review copy looks fabulous on my system even with this miniscule bitrate. It's digital animation so there isn't a lot to go wrong in transfer. I'll probably review the Blu-ray but I don't expect dramatic improvement over the upcoming SD. The 5.1 audio was clear and had moments of separation - no flaws or complaints. There are optional English, French or Spanish subtitles supporting the dialogue.
Supplements include yet another fun, gang-commentary with creator Matt Groening, and some of the cast and crew. There are many supplements - albeit mostly short ones. There were 20 minutes of fairly boring Storyboard Animatic - a fun Futurama Genetics Lab where you can fuse two characters of your choice together. Among other extras - Deleted Scenes, Blooperamas, a funny Bender Anti-Piracy Warning and a preview for Into The Wild Green Yonder - the next (last?) Futurama full-length feature.
This was as good as the others we have covered (Bender's Big Score and Beast with a Billion Backs) and on par with the show itself - lots of one-liners, visits from past characters and a wild storyline with bizarre adventure. With the humor so tightly packed in you can watch these repeatedly and at any time. I had a ball with this one (seen it twice already). So, that's a thumbs up!