Review: ‘Futurama Into The Wild Green Yonder’

Futurama returns again on its glorious post-cancellation tour since it was canceled by Fox in 2003. Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder, which is the fourth feature length movie released after Bender’s Big Score, The Beast with a Billion Backs, and Bender’s Game, will now be chopped up with them so that it can be aired as a sixteen episode season on Comedy Central. It is rumored that they will make more scenes to fill out the season and to improve the episodic nature of the show so they feel complete and not like a random chunk of a movie. Since it has the producing prowess of Matt Groening of The Simpsons at the helm Fox may even resurrect the show a la Family Guy if the season on Comedy Central goes well or if the DVDs perform spectacularly. So all you Futurama fans know what to do if you want more.

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If, however, Fox or Comedy Central or some other benevolent network doesn’t save the show again this movie will be the final swan song for the series. As a finale it wasn’t particularly grand or showy, but it played out with a typical ending for the show and still left things open for any possible future adventures. I would like to see the show get a better send off and I imagine the team making the films was unwilling or unable to let the characters go so they left the ending and the fans begging for more. I predict at least one more season or feature length movie before this show really closes down and I hope the ending is more worthy of the fans who endured a lot following the shows’ many ups and downs.

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The story in this film follows Fry as he gains the ability to read minds and gets roped into defending the galaxy from Eco-terrorist Leo Wong who is demolishing planets that get in the way of his Universe Mini-Golf course. Leela joins a Neo-Feminist group trying to do the same thing and Bender continues to betray everyone with comedic flair. Along the way Fry bands together with the Legion of Madfellows, made up of other lunatics with the ability to read minds that supply most of the laughs toward the end of the film. I was happy to see Bender reduced back to a supporting role since he occasionally gets too much screen time and is better suited to fill the role of comedic sidekick. The Eco-Terrorist soap boxing gets a little annoying at times but they milk plenty of jokes out of it to make it worth while.

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I am personally not a die hard Futurama fan but I find whenever I watch the shows or movies I am always entertained even if I don’t usually seek them out or revisit them. The same is true of this film, it was funny and I laughed heartily especially in the beginning, but it slowed down as it went on and I don’t foresee myself sitting down to watch it again anytime soon. In retrospect, I wonder if I was judging the movie differently knowing it might be the last appearance of these characters and expecting grander gestures, character resolution, and a satisfying or thrilling conclusion. Perhaps if I watched it like any other episode I would have been more satisfied. So I caution anyone watching to hope for the future, a future where Futurama lives on and this is the fourth film that was part of the experimental 5th season and not the middling end to Matt Groening’s pet show.

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Audio and Video
Like The Simpsons movie you get a Widesceen experience and a few scenes that show off some visual flair that wouldn’t be possible in a season but otherwise it is much the same as the previous movies. Although the additional polish does allow for the release of a Blu-Ray edition. The audio mix (Dolby Digital 5.1) was good and all the voice talent remains from the show.

Special Features
The features are deep and you can even find some Easter Eggs if you know how to look for them. The commentary is very insightful to the production side of the show, and don’t miss “Bender’s Movie Theatre Etiquette.”

Audio Commentary with Matt Groening, the Producers, Writers, and two Voice Actors (John DiMaggio and Maurice LaMarche)
A Storyboard Animatic for Part 1 (What will be the first episode)
Docudramarama: “How We Make Futurama So Good” – Production tour led by Lauren Tom
“Louder, Louder! The Acting Technique of Penn Jilette” – Short coverage of Penn’s recording for the movie
Deleted and Alternate Scenes
“Matt and David in Space” – Documents their trip on a Zero G experience
“How to Draw Futurama in 10 Very Difficult Steps”
“Bender’s Movie Theatre Etiquette”
“Zapp Brannigan’s Guide to Making Love at a Woman”

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