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Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Hot diggidy daffodil!

Thank INSERT DEITY HERE for the internet. Not only do we get stuff for free, we can also get it way before its official release date. And just for any legal bods from FOX who may be reading this, I will be buying this when it comes out on DVD. What am I referring to? The new FUTURAMA 'film', THE BEAST WITH A BILLION BACKS. This review will contain plot points so if you want to remain SPOILER FREE then I suggest you do not read any further. If you're one of those people that likes to skip a review and just read the last paragraph then I'll see you there. Go on!

This second feature length episode kicks off with a "Previously on Futurama" pre~titles sequence which refers to unseen events - the universe has a hole ripped in it. An amusing moment and I thought it was a throwaway gag but it proved to be a vital element in the tale. Then, during the opening titles, were treated to a Steamboat Willy parody. Real nice. A whole episode like that would be interesting. Compared to the last feature, BENDER'S BIG SCORE, this one has more visual gags going on and, in general, is a tad less intelligent (or as intriguing) with regards to plot.

So what else is good? Lots more ZAP; some CALCULON, who delivers the line: "Ordinarily, to see acting like that you'd have to sit through a Tampon commercial"; and the return of the Farnsworth's nemesis, WERNSTRUM. Wernstrum.... Not to mention brief cameos from many characters such as: HAROLD ZOID - who tells Zoidberg that he's got a part in a DVD movie, just one line (guess how many lines he gets); the GRAND MIDWIFE (from Kif's home planet) who is also the GRAND PRIESTESS (a self~reflexive comment on the show's tight ensemble cast of voices?); and even ZUZU swoops in to save the day (well, help at least).

We got some new stuff too. The SPORTSBOT 500 was a welcome addition to the television news and FRY got, yet another, new girlfriend. COLLEEN is her name and being a s~bag is her game (sadly for Phillip). Amusingly, she was voiced by BRITTANY MURPHY (wasn't DREW BARRYMORE available?), who did a fine job but I did wonder if that particular actress was chosen for her, erm... how to put this? Slutability? Colleen is a girl who likes her men, and more than one at a time. Another new cast member was DAVID CROSS who, the more discerning amongst you, will know from ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT as Tobias.

He played YIVO, the big 'bad' (as I believe the young people refer to the concept) in this story though it's rather simplistic to view the entity (a big ball with billions of 'tentacles' - hence the title) as a villian. As, in actual fact, Yivo is a good guy who just wants to share his lurve. With everyone! Sadly, 'man' (represented here by Fry) is too petty and jealous to sustain this relationship and, like Adam & Eve in that book, humanity is abandoned. That was a bit weird to be honest and this is where the Beast With A Billion Backs falls short. The story.

Although I enjoyed the very sci~fi/horror themes going on there was much more at work here. Yivo starts as the bad guy (forcing everyone to love him/her) and then becomes loved after the human race gave it a second chance but then they decide to break it off only to fall back in love with it and move into 'heaven' - Yivo himself. It just didn't flow well. BENDER's side story with the excellent League Of Robots should have been an episode by itself and really jars with the main story especially at the ending where the robots invade heaven. Still, nice to see the ROBOT DEVIL again alongside the introduction (and demise) of Bender's 'first born son' (continuing the Biblical motif).

Another point that stuck in the craw was Fry and his disavowal of his love for Leela - a fairly integral part of the show. He hooks up, and falls in love, with Colleen pretty quickly and seems to forget completely about the one~eyed beauty. When he splits up with Colleen he is more depressed than he ever was with Leela and this, reader, does not sit well with me at all. Thankfully, the writer's dryly acknowledge this at the denoument where Leela remarks on Fry's newly found emotional state. The less said about KIF being killed of then brought back to life the better; doesn't anyone die in the shows I watch these days?

So, well worth a watch but not as good as Bender's Big Score. There are a lot of larfs to be found though, like the Deathball game for instance, and top marks to the gang for getting FLASH MOB in there - that's the first mention in a piece of fiction of the 'phenomenon' I've heard. I can't help but feel that there's a message here trying to get out. Lonely people get desperate and do desperate things; everyone's searching for something good and positive but would we recognise these ideals if they came along? Can we, as humans, be truly happy? Do we need our pettiness? Can we dispose of it? Oh, sorry, it's just a cartoon.

'Til the next time,

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posted by Cameron McEwan at 11:10 am -
  • At 2:33 am, Blogger Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said…

    Aw, come on, I thought Kif's death and rebirth was great because it was a parody of the attitude that anybody can be brought back to life in sci-fi. Yivo's "Sadly I can not undo what I have done... no, wait, yes I can!" was a brilliant mockery of sci-fi writers.

    I guess I agree with the assessment - I didn't see Bender's Big Score but to me this felt like Futurama with ADHD - jumping around like a pinball from one quick gag to another. Still slightly more restrained than Family Guy and much more consistently funny, so I was happy.

  • At 9:10 am, Blogger Cameron McEwan said…

    Actually, that's very good point you make about Kif. It does rather mock the sci~fi cliche of rebirth.

    Nice one!

    BENDER'S BIG SCORE is well worth a watch and I felt it was more like a 'movie' (though you can still tell where the episode breaks are) with a great, time~bending story.

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