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Rental Review: Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder (spoilers inside)

February 18, 2009

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By Chad Larson

For all the successes that The Simpsons has wrought in its 20 plus years, creator Matt Groening has said that Futurama is his “baby”. When it was announced a little over a year ago that Futurama would return in 4 direct to DVD movie installments, fans over the world were overjoyed. And this is the last of the four – likely the last Futurama we may ever see.

I went into this movie expecting a wistful ending and an epic adventure to send the series out with a bang. That’s pretty much what I got.

Amy Wong’s father is one of the richest men alive, and he’s just blown up Mars Vegas to replace it with a whole new city. Fry learns during the process that he can read minds, and only a tinfoil hat blocks it out. The Madfellows Society reveals the great secret of the universe. Leela joins a terrorist eco-feminist group that annoyingly uses words like “femergency”. Bender finds true love with the wife of the Robot Mafia’s Don-bot. And virtually every Futurama character has at least a cameo.

Some of these direct-to-DVD Futurama movies have sort of fallen short with fans. Many felt that “The Devil’s Hands Are Idle Playthings” was the perfect end for the series and that these movies should not even exist. In a way I feel like these movies aren’t up to par with some of the better Futurama episodes like “The Sting” and “Jurassic Bark.”, among others. But Futurama is Futurama, and more of it can’t hurt.

The one problem I see with these movies is that in the past, there were no season-long arcs on Futurama. There weren’t even multi-episode arcs. Every story was self contained, and with these 4 “four-episode” movies, it’s hard to keep interested in the story because it gets too convoluted. You have the one main plot of the movie but you have 4 seperate “B plots” that are to serve as the subplots in each of the episodes when the movie gets broken up for TV, and this makes the overall narrative of the movie seem splintered.

The other problem I have with this movie is that they once again have to address the issue of Fry and Leela loving each other. Didn’t we establish that they loved each other in “The Devil’s Hands” and “Bender’s Big Score” along with the other 20 or 30 times it’s brought up in the series? It feels like whatever character development they do with their relationship just goes away between each movie.

There has been no official announcement that there will be more movies or more episodes done for TV, and the movie ends in a bittersweet way, written in a fashion that could allow for more shows but also to provide a proper ending to the series that so many have loved so dearly.

The movie is typical Futurama adventure though, and the jokes are great. There are a lot of quotable lines and the nerd in-joke about tinfoil hats being the way to keep your mind from being read is great.

One reference to Bender’s Game is the ship running out of whale oil, which is now the main power source in the Futurama universe. Fry jokes about once again being the chosen one to save the universe (This is what, the 5th or 6th time for him? Give Zoidberg a chance!)

Here’s to you, Planet Express Crew. Thanks for the laughs, and maybe we’ll meet up again someday.

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