By Gareth Von Kallenbach
The third of the straight-to-DVD â€˜â€™Futuramaâ€™â€™ movies, â€œFuturama: Benderâ€™s Gameâ€ has arrived – and continues the winning formula of the television series and two previous films.
In true â€˜â€™Futuramaâ€™â€™ style, there are references to past characters and pop culture gags throughout. Oh, and thereâ€™s plot! The early focus of the story is on the Dark Matter fuel shortage that is controlled by the greedy Mom and her corporation. Mom insists that prices are way up so she has to charge more for the precious starship fuel, but avoids any questions related to her record profits related to the ever rising fuel prices.With the rising fuel costs the Planetary Express Office, is put on a very strict flight schedule that causes havoc amongst the crew. Fry (Billy West), still drifts aimlessly about life, Amy (Lauren Tom) is as shallow as ever and Leela (Katey Sagal), has an ager issue and is outfitted with a shock collar that jolts her whenever she loses her temper. Bender (John Di Maggio), has a larger issue as he spots some of the staff children and their friends playing Dungeons and Dragons and wants to be a part of the action. It is learned that robots were not built for imagination so when Bender takes up the game and becomes the entity Titanius, he soon has a hard time distinguishing between reality and fantasy. Combine this with Leelaâ€™s entry of the Planet Express ship into a Demo Derby and you get a premise ripe with laughter.
The story shifts into high gear â€“ well as high a gear as a primetime cartoon will allow – when Professor Farnsworth (Billy West), decides to use his anti-backwards crystal to end his old flame Moms hold on the fuel industry. The Crew make a startling discovery as they battle mom, and thanks to the power of the crystal and Bender, find themselves in a strange medieval world where each of them has new identities in this alternate universe. In a race against time, the Planet Express staff must not only survive the alternate universe, but defeat Mom and her plans for universal domination.
All in all a welcome and satisfying film that should delight fans and help keep us happy until the new film â€“ yep, thereâ€™s more on the way! – arrives next year.
Blu-Ray Details and Extras
With a high bitrate AVC encoding that averages about 35 to 40 Mbps, â€˜â€™Futurama Benders Gameâ€™â€™ looks blissfully divine on Blu-Ray. The colours burst from the screen and thereâ€™s more detail than a tax claim form!
Audio-wise, thereâ€™s a â€˜wow!â€™ factor as soon as the DTS-HD Master Audio 5 comes into play. The show usually sounds flat, almost monotone, on television but on Blu-Ray they positively come to life!
I remember saying to someone that you donâ€™t really need to get animated films on Blu-Ray because they generally look OK anyway. How wrong was I!? This looks much better than it ever would on standard SD or television.
With sharp picture and sound, this is a very enjoyable new adventure for fans.
There are loads of extras which include deleted scenes, commentaries, and a look at the next film â€œInto The Wild Green Yonderâ€.