Futurama’s back with a feature-length edition. Should we be crying with joy, or in horror at how such an icon of good animated programming could be brought down so low?

(Hint: it’s the first one)

Principal Cast and Crew

Billy West as Phillip J. Fry, Dr. Zoidberg, Professor Hubert Farnsworth, Zapp Brannigan, the God Entity and others
John Di Maggio as Bender Bending Rodriguez, Robot Santa, Elzar and others
Katey Sagal as Turanga Leela
Lauren Tom as Amy Wong and others
Phil Lamarr as Hermes Conrad and others
Maurice LaMarche as Kif Kroker, Morbo, Donbot, Clamps and others
Tress MacNeille as Linda and others
David Herman as Nudar and others
Frank Welker as Nibbler, Seymour and others
Coolio as KwanzaBot
Al Gore as himself
Mark Hamill as Chanukah Zombie
Tom Kenny as Yancy Fry, Jr.
Dawnn Lewis as LaBarbara Conrad
Sarah Silverman as Michelle
Kath Soucie as Cubert Farnsworth and others

Directed by Dwayne Carey-Hill

Teleplay by Ken Keeler, story by David X. Cohen and Ken Keeler. Developed by David X. Cohen and Matt Groening. Created by Matt Groening.

Synopsis

After being miraculously un-cancelled, the Planet Express crew succumb to a series of scam emails. Once the scammers take control of Planet Express, they immediately set about attempting to scam the entire human race out of the planet Earth and are delighted to find the secret of time travel tattooed on Fry’s posterior. Meanwhile, Leela is wooed by a technician from the Head Museum.

High Points

  • Bender arriving in the year 2000 in a suit for no readily apparent reason (not readily apparent at the time, anyway)
  • The doom component of the temporal equations

Low Points

  • Robot Santa, Kwanzabot and Chanukah Zombie’s song

The Scores

Originality: Like a dose of fresh air on a mind fatigued by a lack of something really interesting to watch. Five out of six.

Effects: It’s tricky to evaluate effects for a film which is effectively entirely special effects. I mean, it’s animation, right? Futurama has always used a mixture of hand-drawn and computer-generated animation which allows them to pull off some marvellous bits of visual excitement. Everything looks like it did in the series, but that’s no bad thing because the series always looked great. As we should expect, the film is also packed with visual humour. Five out of six, because the transitions between computer generated and hand-drawn animation are sometimes incredibly obvious.

Story: The expectation might have been that the story would be slow, as the writers would have gone a bit overboard with the amount of time they had. Not so: most of the time, the story moves as quickly and tightly as it did in any episode of the original run. The extra length is used for more twists, turns and temporal paradoxes than you can shake three sticks at. Unfortunately, while it’s excellent in many ways, there are a few moments when it feels like you’re visiting almost every part of established Futurama backstory just for the sake of it. Five out of six.

Emotional Response: As an utterly rabid Futurama fan I was always going to respond strongly to this revival, either through sheer joy or utter hatred. Fortunately this turned out to be the former. Sensible, meaningful and non-intrusive backreferences abound and each one lifted my heart a little more. For me, this was a glorious romp through the realms of pure entertainment. Six out of six, and my laughing muscles hurt.

Acting: Top-notch work by the original cast. Particular credit to Al Gore, who really gets into the characterisation of himself as a head in a jar. Six out of six.

Production: It looks great (covered under effects), it sounds superb and it flows mostly well. Five out of six.

Overall: Futurama‘s back! What’s even better is that it’s back in all its former glory. Six out of six.

Futurama: Bender’s Big Score receives a grand total of thirty-eight out of forty-two.