Last night I finally watched Futurama‘s first straight to DVD “feature-length epic”: Bender’s Big Score. I’m not sure why I say “finally” – I didn’t even know that the film had been released in November (at most, I didn’t pay much attention to it), but being a fan of Futurama and disappointed with the selection of new releases at B-Buster, I picked up a copy of the straight to DVD “epic.”
My expectations were admittedly low – when Family Guy released a straight to DVD film during a few years ago I was more than underwhelmed, I was disappointed. This, however, could be due in large part to the fact that Family Guy‘s comedy depends on pop culture references that have little to nothing to do with the plot – something that’s funny in 20 minute intervals, but can get a little old when subjected to in for over an hour.
Anyways, Futurama‘s humor does not rely on those kind of jokes, so I can’t be sure why I put the two films in the same boat.
Bender’s Big Score was surprisingly good. A great deal of work seems to have been put into this film, which eliminated the lazy, “let’s get this done” feeling I often acquire after watching a straight to DVD flick. The jokes were as original as those on the show, and the plot didn’t feel stretched – like a 20 minute episode drawn out for an additional 60+ minutes.
The plot primarily revolves around time travel, a subject addressed in a very clever fashion by the Futurama writers, as seen in past episodes when the TV show was originally running. In addition to a fun storyline, the time travel plot explains elements of the TV show, which should be fun for any Futurama fan. For example, it is cleverly explained how New York City is destroyed before becoming New New York City.
On top of a good story and funny jokes (Bender had me in stitches), the DVD has some great special features. The is a lecture given by a prominent mathematician – with the help for the Futurama writers, creators, and developers (including Matt Groening) – about the use of math references in Futurama. It may sound boring, but it was really fascinating.
Bottom line: worth renting. This is especially true if you’re a fan of Futurama.