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DVD Review

Bender's Big Score


Starring (voice): Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Phil LaMarr and Lauren Tom
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 12
Available 07 April 2008

Uncancel your plans for the future - Futurama is back! In this all-new, feature-length epic, evil nudist aliens send Bender on a rampage through time, forcing him - slightly against his will - to steal all of Earth's priceless historic treasures. Will the heroic Planet Express crew save the planet? Will Leela find true love? Will the ancient and terrible secret of Fry's buttocks be exposed? All will be revealed in Futurama: Bender’s Big Score...

The Planet Express crew return for another adventure in the first of four straight-to-DVD movies. Bender's Big Score finds the Futurama crew fighting to save Earth from a group of nudist alien Internet scammers. It’s nearly Christmas 3007 when evil naked aliens launch a cyber-attack on the Planet Express and make a shocking discovery: the secret of time travel, mysteriously tattooed on Fry’s buttocks. Using their devious nudist software to control Bender, the aliens send him back through time.

Meanwhile Fry also manages to return to the year 2000 and live out the remainder of his life there; Leela falls in love; and Hermes loses his head! Sadly the Professor, Zoidberg and Amy don't have much to do, but hopefully that will be rectified in the movies yet to come. It was also a little too obvious that the writers tried to slot in a cameo for just about every other Futurama character. While some may see this as a nice touch, personally it started to get annoying after a while how characters were desperately being shoehorned in when they didn't really further the plot in any significant way (Robot Santa being a prime example).

The plot to this movie (which, we are reliably informed on the audio commentary, does actually all work out if you sit down and study it carefully) is more complex than Back to the Future for fans that will attempt to work out which character has affected what reality.

The plot, and the gags, manages to rattle along nicely without every feeling stretched, and it was interesting to learn that the writers had deliberately added some subtle gags and references that most viewers won't really appreciate on a first viewing, but if they watch the movie a second time they will be rewarded with a new insight into the story.

To be honest though, the movie's big twist is a little too obvious. In fact I had my suspicions from the very start. But, to be honest, concealing this from the audience was always going to be tricky and I think the writers did a pretty good job of trying to mask it as much as possible.

Extras are pretty impressive and include an audio commentary with cast and crew; Futurama Returns: A Live Comic Book Reading by the Cast (8 min, 51 sec comic, along with voices provided by the cast, which was recorded at Comic-Con. This tells the story of the show being cancelled and what the characters have been up to since); Everybody Loves Hypnotoad (22 min episode of the Hypnotoad show. Very funny spoof on dull American sit-coms); 3 x Deleted Storyboard Scenes; A Terrifying Message from Al Gore (1 min, 24 sec promo video which also has an optional video commentary with Gore, Matt Groening and David X. Cohen); Bite my Shiny Metal X (26 min math lecture which explores some of the math based in-jokes that are hidden away in Futurama); 3D Models / 3D Turnarounds (1 min, 14 sec look at the wire frame and completed computer models of two spacecraft and the Gold Death Stars); Original 5-minute Comic-Con Promo (5 min promo trailer); Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs (4 min, 38 sec preview of the second Futurama movie; Benders Big Score - First Draft of the Script (Your chance to flick through the pages of the original script and see what was cut or added in the final version); New Character / Design Sketches (illustrations of the main new characters); and a not very hidden Easter Egg (which you'll have to uncover yourself - but be warned, it's not that exciting).

Unlike The Simpsons Movie, which was rather disappointing, Bender's Big Score is a great movie and I look forward to seeing the other three in the series.


Darren Rea

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