Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bender's Big Score

Futurama is finally back, but not on TV. Bender's Big Score, released on DVD today, is the first of four new Futurama movies. I'm starting to retract my long held beliefs that TV shows (especially cartoons) do not make good movies. Earlier this year, the Simpsons movie surprised me by actually being good. Bender's Big Score is just as good as any of the episodes ever were.

The movie is much more complex than one would expect. This isn't surprising from a show that often prided itself on being confusing and elaborate, using time travel to explore fairly simple plot lines. Dwayne Carey-Hill was a character designer, and assistant director on the series. He only ever directed one episode, making him an odd choice to tackle the first full length movie. In the end, however, he proved himself to be able to handle this. Trying to make it as simple as possible, the plot is as follows. A group of aliens takes over the world by scamming the human race with Internet schemes. They find a code for time-travel tattooed on Fry, and use it to go back in time and steal all the riches of history. Fry then uses the same code to try to stop them. This results in a series of paradoxes and confusing plot holes. That's all a part of the jokes, however. It's as if the creators are smirking at the audience the whole time. It's a big joke and we're all in on it. I love that, when it's done well.

The secondary plot is actually the strongest. It continues the long running theme of Fry's unrequited love for Leela. Fry uses time travel to try to make her love him, but ends up creating a parallel love story, and going to great lengths to be her true love.

All the voices from the series are back. This is good, because it just would not work without them. Billy West is easily one of the best animated voices of all time. John Di Maggio, Katey Sagal, Lauren Tom, and Phil Lamar also deserve recognition. There is hardly an animated series in the 90's that at least one of these talents was not involved in. It wouldn't be Futurama without all of them. On top of this, the movie featured such cameos as Coolio, and Al Gore in a recurring role.

The movie isn't without its weak points. It seems they tried to cram as many characters from the show as they could. This resulted in some awkward scenes, and an embarrassingly painful musical number. Aside from these few unpleasant parts, the movie far surpassed any expectations I had.


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