By Clint Morris
Iâ€™ve always liked â€œFuturamaâ€ more than â€œThe Simpsonsâ€ â€“ and was simply dumbfounded when the former was axed first-time around (it was resurrected, thanks to us fans, a year or two later) â€“ and Iâ€™m betting Iâ€™m not alone. Come on! be honest. Itâ€™s like Coke or Pepsi â€“ you either like one or the other.
Like Coke, The Simpsonâ€™s is the more popular brand, but Pepsiâ€™s the better drink, right? Just as Futuramaâ€™s the betterâ€¦ well, you know what Iâ€™m getting at.
â€œFuturamaâ€ is great â€“ itâ€™s not just funny, itâ€™s darn ingenious at times; the pop-culture references and over-the-little-oneâ€™s-head-jokes are well thought and always amusing. Not to say â€œThe Simpsonsâ€ doesnâ€™t have itâ€™s fair share of funny moments, and has quite a few pop-culture references too (heck, my wife swears she learnt about all the classic movies from â€˜Simpsonâ€™sâ€™ episodes) but â€œFuturamaâ€ seems a little â€“ for lack of a better word â€“ less childish. Maybe the reason it originally only lasted for a short time was that it was a little too clever for itâ€™s own good? â€œThe Simpsonsâ€ is, I guess you could say, a lot easier to follow â€“ and far more accessible to the casual viewer than â€œFuturamaâ€.
â€œFuturama : The Beast with a Billion Backsâ€ is the second of four feature-length â€œFuturamaâ€ films – the other â€œBenderâ€™s Big Scoreâ€ hit DVD last year â€“ due out over the course of eighteen months or so. These flicks donâ€™t seem to work as well as the thirty-minute episodes, but theyâ€™ll still go down well with fans.
Picking up three months after the last one, â€œBeastâ€ picks up as thereâ€™s a massive rift in space and time unleashes a cosmic terror of epic proportions and the citizens of planet Earth discover a strange new religion. A revolting, planet-sized alien has taken control of Fry, transforming our time-sleeping hero into the Pope of a new religion that encourages mankind to abandon planet Earth. With no more humans to get in the way, robots the robots will finally be free to take over.
The last one was pretty darn funny, howâ€™s this one? Well, in short, it isnâ€™t quite as good as â€œBenderâ€™s Big Scoreâ€- but thereâ€™s no such thing as bad â€œFuturamaâ€ so it still passes muster. Still, it definitely couldâ€™ve been better.
The earlier film was a little more involving – but had equal amount laughs as it did plot â€“ than this. Thereâ€™s not much of a story this time around â€“ in fact, this oneâ€™s more of a â€˜letâ€™s just throw a bunch of jokes out there and see what sticksâ€™ situation (There are some terrific sight gags though). The jokes are both hit-and-miss and, well, odd. Some of them donâ€™t fit the â€œFuturamaâ€ mould.
Still, â€œBeastâ€ is well worth a watch, but probably one that doesnâ€™t warrant repeat viewing.
Extras include an audio commentary from creator Matt Groening, executive producer David X. Cohen, voice actors Billy West, John DiMaggio and Maurice LaMarche, director Peter Avanzino, co-writer Mike Rowe and producers Claudia Katz (from Rough Draft Studios) and Lee Supercinski. The track is both insightful and entertaining â€“ I know, it sounds like a clichÃ©, but itâ€™s true, thereâ€™s equal amounts tomfoolery and trivia here. Well worth a listen.
Thereâ€™s also a new 30-minute episode of the show â€“ itâ€™s bits from the 2003 Xbox game spliced together â€“ along with optional commentary for it. Again, a funny and factual track.
Other goodies found here include deleted scenes, bloopers, featurettes, and a preview of the next â€œFuturamaâ€ movie â€“ â€œBenderâ€™s Gameâ€.