Review by KC Carlson
“Woah! Sci-Fi!” — Philip J. Fry
Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder is the last of the series’ original four direct-to-DVD movies, following Bender’s Big Score, The Beast With a Billion Backs, and Bender’s Game. It may also be the last original Futurama animation project, although the usual rumors of an additional season or more movies are currently circulating in fan circles.
Given that iffy situation, Into the Wild Green Yonder goes far in giving Futurama fans a few satisfying resolutions to some long-standing series mysteries and character relationships while also providing a big-bang-up conclusion and allowing the series an “out” if more adventures are produced. I would have expected no less from the wildly insane geniuses who create and produce the series.
But getting there is all the fun, and the movie (which will be later broken down into four episodes of the regular Futurama series, currently being aired on Comedy Central) brings back a gaggle of long-running Futurama characters, including Leo and Inez Wong (Amy’s rich parents), the Donbot (and his loser “enforcers”), Scruffy (the janitor), the moronic Zapp Brannigan (who again steals the movie) and his long-suffering yet strangly-loyal assistant Kif Kroker, and the mysterious No. 9 Man. Plus, there are a number of new characters including Frida Waterfall, a somewhat inept eco-feminist; Hutch, a telepathic transient who befriends Fry after Fry begins to hear voices inside his head; Fanny, a stripperbot with a oscillating fan on her derriere who steals Bender’s heart; and the mysterious Dark Ones, who are, of course, instrumental to the plot.
Ah, the plot! As in all Futurama projects, the plot is complicated, dense, multi-tentacled, occasionally misleading, and takes several pit stops but ultimately ends with the the classic head-slapping Futurama “of course!” moment. This one is no exception, involving The Universe’s Largest Miniature Golf Course (played with cannons), Mars Vegas, the Greenerita Eco-Feminist Collective, tinfoil hats, Penn and Teller, the last Martian muck leech, The Legion of Mad Fellows, The Planet Express ship painted fluorescent pink, Snoop Dogg, the 3009 Universal Poker Championship, Encyclopods, chi, violet dwarf systems, sugar in the gas tank, a confession of love, a senseless death (or thousands), and of course the preserved head of Richard Nixon, and a headless Vice-President Spiro Agnew.
As usual, Into the Wild Green Yonder takes satirical swipes at everything in sight including Star Trek, TV commercials and Batman, among many others, and the film is loaded with great references and inside jokes, including the revelation that the head of Katey Segal (and the voice of Leela) is a member of the the Supreme Court in the 30th Century.
Sadly, I cannot offer a full review of the DVD special features, as the screener provided by Fox will not allow me to access any of them at my computer work station. Apparently, I am some horrendous blight of a security risk because I might accidentally reveal that something here might actually be worth watching. I can tell you that the disc does have the usual feature-length commentary by the usual cast of dozens of Futurama staff, creators, voice cast, and others. I understand that it’s the only place to learn what voice special guest Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) provided for the film. As for the rest…?
Further, I must report that my review screener was once again riddled with hundreds of digital artifacts, making for a truly unpleasant viewing experience. Based on what I see here, I cannot recommend this disc, based on the faulty picture quality. Hopefully, the commercial version will be corrected, but that was not the version we were provided for review. I cannot speak for Johanna or for CWR, but I probably won’t be doing any more reviews based on faulty or incomplete screeners, such as the ones that Fox provides. I feel very strongly that, as reviewers, we should be watching and commenting on the same material that the consumer will be plunking down their hard-earned money for.
[JDC — I fully support that decision. If a studio thinks a reviewer is a security risk, providing crippled copies isn’t the answer. It doesn’t serve anyone’s purpose to have to struggle with a review copy that doesn’t accurately represent the product. Who are they trying to protect?]