Review: Futurama: Bender’s Game
On the heels of The Beast with a Billion Backs comes the third installment of the four [[[Futurama]]] direct-to-dvd films in [[[Bender’s Game]]]. It’s difficult to take these movies in as “movies” because they all feel like three or four episodes strung together (in fact, that is how they will be released on Comedy Central later this year) but they all seem to have a central storyline or element that runs through the entire feature and ties everything up in the end. For this film, that element is the [[[Dungeons and Dragons]]].
The film starts off as the younger of the Planet Express staff (Cubert, Dwight and friends) are geeking out in a game of D&D and acknowledge that Bender was built without an imagination (really?). This comes back later on in the film for a bit of a [[[Wizard of Oz]]]-like twist in which the whole crew gets sucked into Bender’s imagination. The B-Story here is that Leela has anger issues and is issued a shock collar that goes off when she has a violent thought. All this and another sidestory about the Professor’s actual son (hint: it’s not Zoidberg).
The great thing about Futurama is that, unlike [[[Simpsons]]], it has whole parts of an episode where you aren’t slapping your knee with laughter, but still enjoying it for the story and characters. There were a few knee-slapping moments in Bender’s Game, but overall, the episode isn’t on par with any episode of [[[Family Guy]]]. There isn’t as much character development here as in previous films, but some great moments with each of the characters, and as mentioned; just fun to watch.
Not many names in the way of celebrity cameos here. There is a brief stint with George Tekai which was quite funny, and friend of the series Rich Little stops by, but nothing like David Cross or Brittany Murphy of the previous movies. Though there is plenty for fans of fantasy RPG to get their jollies off, there is very little references to previous Futurama episodes. [[[Bender’s Big Score]]] was riddled with nods to the series, and even the last film had lots of in-jokes for the more diehard fans. Gary Gygax gets a mention at the end of the film, with a clip from his cameo on an older episode after the credits which is nice, considering how much of a role D&D has in the film.
Overall, this is probably the weakest of the Futurama features, with the least amount of characters and knee-slapping moments (no appearance by Zapf and one line from Calculon). The features on the DVD are worth the buy alone though, with bloopers from the voice actors, tons of featurettes, and even a Character Fusion Machine. Worth a buy for fans of the series, but don’t expect Bender’s Big Score. Rating: 6/10
Buy Futurama: Bender’s Game on DVD and Blu-Ray on November 8th!