Futurama: Into The Wild Green Yonder
So, this is it Futurama fans, unless there is a minor miracle this is the last we'll see of Fry, Leela, Bender and co. After four seasons and three films, this fourth made for DVD movie, Into The Wild Green Yonder is the end of the road and is fittingly directed by Ken Keeler who directed the final episode of season 4. It is by far the most complex of the four films and difficult to describe without giving away spoilers, but here goes.
Leo Wong, Amy's ultra-rich father, wants to replace Mars Vegas with the biggest and best resort and casino in the universe but his blatant disregard for the environment incurs the wrath of the ineffective Greenorita Eco-Feminist Collective. Taking pity on nature and siding with the 'Feministas', Leela joins them and spearheads a militant campaign against Leo's plans for the universe's biggest miniature golf course, the construction of which will destroy planets.
When an accident at the New Vegas construction site leaves Fry with psychic abilities, he is traumatised by being able to hear people's thoughts but a chance meeting with Hutch, a hobo, sees him inducted into an underground organisation, the Ancient Legion of Madfellows and take on a quest to save the universe.
Meanwhile, Bender begins a far from secretive affair with Fanny, the Donbot's wife before teaming up with President Nixon and Zapp Brannigan to track down and bring in Leela and her Femenistas.
Just as with Bender's Game, this is a beautifully animated film with loads of sight gags, the high definition picture is incredibly detailed and allows you to make out even the smallest of features, particularly in crowd scenes. Whilst you may think that Futurama may not need a Blu-ray release, it certainly benefits from the added clarity with better colours and sharp edges.
*The pictures contained in this review are from the DVD and do not reflect the image quality of the BD.*
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is very good, though nothing special. The surrounds are used well and the dialogue is crystal clear which is all that you can ask for. The theme song, sung by Seth MacFarlane, is excellent and is further proof of the man's vocal talent.
This has similar bonus material to Bender's Game, led by the informative and jovial commentary, with optional picture-in-picture footage of the speakers. I found the PiP option again useful as it helps you to identify the speakers as there are eight of them taking part.
The first act (22 minutes) is available in storyboard form, which shows how it begins as rough sketches; there's also five deleted/extended scenes which have some great material that must have been cut for time reasons though others never made it past the storyboard stage. There is also a five minute discussion about constructing the 3D effects such as black holes and a 'how to draw' for Professor Farnsworth, Nibbler, the Hypnotoad and Fry.
The five minute mockumentary - How We Make Futurama So Good - shows the real fake story of how Futurama is made - who knew that Lauren Tom did everything? There is footage of Matt Groening and David X. Cohen taking a trip on a Zero G plane and narrating it, thinking they've made a show set in the future with much of it in space so they may as well experience weightlessness. In the commentary they mention that Penn Jillette is the loudest guest they've ever had and there is a featurette to back this up, showing Penn recording his dialogue, cutting between the recording booth and the finished scene.
Finally there are two 'guides': Bender's Movie Theater Etiquette and Zapp Brannigan's Guide to Making Love at a Woman. These are compilations of snippets from the TV show and the other Futurama films but with a new voiceover - both are amusing, but not particularly brilliant and nowhere near as good as Bender's Anti-piracy Warning from the Bender's Game disc.
Bender's Game was the best film so far but this is better. The others are being shown in 'episodes' on TV and I can see how they can be cut up as they didn't feel like feature films, more a series of episodes. With Into The Wild Green Yonder, I don't see how they can do it - although I know they will - because it's a cohesive narrative, brilliantly animated and with proper character arcs that require your attention for the full runtime.
There is so much going on here, from sight gags and numerous references to characters from the show that the bigger the fan the more you will get out of it. Number 9 man, who was previously only seen as a figure in the background of many episodes, is finally given a speaking part and prominent role to boot, though not the one they had originally intended. I thought I was a big fan, but there are things that I missed that are pointed out in the commentary.
The script is sharp, there are numerous visual gags and this is Futurama at its finest: clever, witty and involving. Also, it has a proper ending (to Futurama not just the film) and if this is the last we see of Matt Groening's creation, at least it went out with a bang - Into The Wild Green Yonder is highly recommended.