Futurama is back with another all new direct to video release with Bender’s Game, it’s third film which is set to air on Comedy Central sometime early next year. After the last two Futurama movies, can the hype and quality be sustained? Unfortunately this time around the movie suffers a bit, but it still shouldn’t deter you from seeing it.
Taking a page out of today’s economic situation, the movie is set up on the premise that fuel prices, which is dark matter, are on the rise and it’s up to the Planet Express crew to expose and take down Mom’s energy monopoly. We’re also treated to a side-story on Bender learning to play Dungeons & Dragons, bringing the crew into Bender’s D&D inspired imagination. If you ever played Dungeons & Dragons you’ll definitely get a kick on how the tackle D&D in the future. Even if you’re unfamiliar with D&D, the jokes are easily understandable.
The movie opens with an long introduction clearly inspired by the Beatles and takes a while for the story to get started. For the first 22 minutes the movie can be about anything, not really setting up what will come for the rest of the movie. This is where the issue of making individual episodes out of the movie comes into play. It’s clear that the first part of the movie could have been a stand alone episode. Almost a half an hour into the movie and you’ll find Bender occupied with his own little side story, as well as Professor Farnsworth. This is were the plot becomes more focused and after a while the two segments sub-plots come together, eventually giving a more cohesiveness to the movie. While the build-up to the main story takes a while, it has its moments
The animation is top notch and what you’d expect from the series, as is the voice acting. You have all of the regulars returning along with a number of celebrity voices. There are no complaints when it comes to the production of the movie. It’s the story that drags down the movie overall. While it’s an original premise and has it’s moments perhaps the biggest gripe with the movie is that you can feel the separation of episodes. They really felt like distinct episodes that were cobbled together to make a movie. It didn’t flow well and it was clearly noticeable when the storylines shifted from episode to episode. It lacked a cohesive feel.
Overall, Bender’s Game is one of the most original Futurama stories to date, unfortunately it just isn’t up to par with what we’re used to. Some might say the series works better as individual episodes, but the previous movies showed that it can work in a movie format. Unfortunately this time around individual episodes might have been better.