on February 15, 2009
Into The Wild Green Yonder is the fourth and final installment in the series of direct-to-video Futurama movies, all of which are scheduled to be cut up into quarters and be broadcast as a "fifth season" on TV. While it's a decent enough episode in its own right and provides an poignant conclusion to the series, it demonstrates the difficulties (not insurmountable, but significant) in adapting Futurama's blend of witty satire, sci-fi action and character development to a feature film.
The first quarter of the movie shows our heroes enjoying a vacation in the New Mars Vegas, recently developed by Amy Wong's wealthy parents. The whole chapter is lighthearted, enjoyable and plants two seeds of the main plot -- Fry gets injured in an accident and gains telepathic powers, while Leela becomes upset at the extent to which the construction is destroying the environment. From here, the main story arcs develop: Leela joins an eco-feminist collective devoted to saving a violet dwarf star and planet and becomes a fugitive; Fry joins a secret society and learns that that the violet dwarf system is a key element in a cosmic struggle for the fate of all biological life in the universe; Bender teams up with Zapp Brannigan and initiates a crucial plot twist. The final scenes tie up a long-running thread in the Futurama saga and provide a touching (yet not excessively sentimental) conclusion to the Futurama series while leaving open the possibility of future adventures.
The massive, epic nature of the movie (a consequence of the feature-length format, as well as the writers' desire to go out with a bang) is responsible both for the strengths and the weaknesses of the episode. On the one hand, the characterization throughout the movie is very strong. Placed in stressful, completely unfamiliar circumstances, our heroes act in ways that are true to themselves for the most part without being overly predictable or coming off as caricatures of themselves. The artistry is impressive as well -- many of the shots of outer space are breathtaking, the opening Sinatra-themed number is a hit, and alert viewers will recognize the return of some of the moving musical themes from a previous movie. The writers and creative staff manage to take an epic adventure and make it connect with the viewer on a personal level.
On the other hand, the sci-fi content of the movie is sloppy and heavy-handed, with little of the nuance and subtlety of Futurama's previous ecologically-minded episodes. In addition, the satirical wit and goofiness that is the hallmark of the Futurama franchise gradually peters out about halfway through the movie -- the jokes don't disappear as such, but most of them are exhausted running jibes, while the genuinely clever lines and gags are unable to lighten the mood of the episode, making portions of the film feel tense and grim. It's clear that Futurama can become imbalanced when forced to adapt to the more massive, slower-developing story arcs of a feature-length film.
While this movie is certainly a mandatory purchase for devoted Futurama fans, who will appreciate the positive elements of this movie and be willing to leave the rest behind, novices are advised to start with the original series (or perhaps Bender's Big Score) before delving into the rest of the movies. As for the future of Futurama, the writers still seem to be capable of producing fresh ideas, and the events of Into The Wild Green Yonder leave several issues open as fodder for future releases (Twentieth Century Fox has just confirmed that Comedy Central has ordered 26 new episodes, to begin airing in 2010). Despite the unevenness of the movies, there's plenty of reason for optimism.
on February 15, 2009
The fourth (and lets hope not final) of the planned straight to DVD Futurama movies, "Futurama: Into The Wild Green Yonder" has arrived and continues the winning formula of the television series and three previous films as well as ties things up nicely should this be the final outing for the Planet Express crew.
The film opens with a new take on the traditional opening and we are treated to the scenic Mars Vegas complete with futuristic interpretations of the class Las Vegas hotels. As the film opens, Mars Vegas is being destroyed to make way for a new and even better Mars Vegas. This does not sit well with Amy (Lauren Tom) as her father is the one behind all of this, and when she learns that he plans to eliminate portions of a solar system to make the universes biggest miniature golf course, she decides to join a militant feminist group with Leela (Katey Sagal).
As this is happening Fry (Billy West), learns that he has the power to read minds and is recruited by a secret organization who inform him of a great evil that is loose in the galaxy and that he will be the key to preserving the universe.
Bender (John Di Maggio), as usual is happy to drink and griftt his way through life, that is until a affair with a local crime figures wife provides him with some danger and distraction.
When a planned protest goes horribly wrong, Leela and Amy end up as fugitives and are doggedly pursued by Captain Zapp Brannigan as they race against the clock to save the creatures of the solar system from Leo Wong's planned construction.
The film is as usual, loaded with laughs and plenty of pop culture gags. Snoop Dogg and Penn Jilette make cameo appearances as do many of the characters from the series.
With sharp picture and sound, this is a very enjoyable new adventure for fans and should add demand for future adventures in the series and provide great viewing enjoyment.
There are loads of extras which include deleted scenes, commentaries, as well as deleted scenes.
4 stars out of 5
Prepare yourself for another hilarious film in the "Futurama" universe!
The crew of Planet Express are in another hilarious adventure as the crew takes a look at New Mars Vegas and learn more about Leo Wong's goal of creating another golf course. Of course, by doing so, he's destroying any natural vegetation that still exists, as well as exterminating living life that reside on the planet's underground system which prompts a group of Eco-Feminists who protest Wong's golf constructions.
And to make things more interesting, Wong wants to take his passion for golf to the Milky Way and like he has done in New Mars Vegas, he will do to the Milky Way and destroy things to get this way.
Due to Wong's actions, this causes Turanga Leela, Amy Wong and LeBarbara Conrad to join the Eco-feminist protesters and lead them on crusades against Wong.
As for Philip, he somehow gains a power of reading minds that leads him to a crazy group of people known as the Legion of Mad Fellows who believe that Fry's new talents is a gift to save the universe.
And as for Bender, let's just say he finds some mad love with a fembot who happens to be the wife of a Donbot in the mafia.
Expect a lot of outrageous hijinks, all-out fun and crazy adventures as the crew of Planet Express are pit against each other.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
With this animated film created digitally, for fans of "Futurama" and those who enjoy the style of animation by Matt Groenig, you will see how colorful and clear the animation looks on Blu-ray. Featured in widescreen 1:78:1, you get a good balance of digital and 3D-based artwork. Some parts that are quite vibrant and overall good uses of color throughout the film.
As for the audio, audio is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD and there were good uses of rear speaker usage during scenes that involve action-based scenes to parts that include a lot of people and you can hear crowds on the rear speakers.
There are a good number of special features included on "Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder" and included inside the case are four "Futurama" postcards. Special features included on the Blu-ray Disc are:
* AUDIO/VIDEO COMMENTARY - There is an optional audio or audio + video commentary on Blu-ray. The video commentary features a Picture-in-Picture (available on BonusView Enabled Players) while watching the film and watching Matt Groenig, David X. Chohen, John DiMaggio, Maurice LaMarche, Patric M. Verrone, Michael Rowe, Lee Supercinski and Peter Avanzino together. The audio commentary is quite informative and hilarious as the group is like watching a group of guys having fun, cracking jokes but also talking about certain parts of the film.
* STORYBOARD ANIMATIC: Into the Wild Green Yonder, Part 1 - Featuring how storyboards were utilized for this film.
* DOCUDRAMARAMA: How We Make Futurama So Good - An interesting behind-the-scenes feature of how "FUTURAMA" is created and learning how Lauren Tom does all the voices, all the special effects and storyboards.
* "LOUDER, LOUDER!": The Acting Technique of Penn Jillette - A short segment of Penn Jillette doing his scene for the film.
* GOLDEN STINKERS: A treasure of Deleted Scenes - Scenes that were not included in the final cut of the film. Instead of full animation, some the deleted scenes are in storyboards.
* MATT GROENIG AND DAVID X. COHEN IN SPACE! - A video featuring both Groenig and Cohen taking part in a weightless flight ala Zero-G.
* HOW TO DRAW FUTURAMA IN 10 VERY DIFFICULT STEPS - Featuring a few of the crew drawing several of the characters featured in "FUTURAMA" and some tips and advice by those who draw the characters.
* 3-D MODELS with Animator Discussion - Animators discussing how the vehicles and the meteor were created in 3D and what changes they went through during the process of creating them.
* BENDER'S MOVIE THEATER ETIQUETTE - A short segment featuring Bender at the movie theaters and learning about movie theater etiquette such as do not provoke people by throwing popcorn at them or else they may shoot you with lasers and destroy the movie theater.
* ZAPP BRANNIGAN'S GUIDE TO MAKING LOVE AT A WOMAN - Brannigan shows us how women with one eye and women with two eyes must be treated differently if you are trying to romance them.
I also discovered two Easter Eggs so far on the Blu-ray. Here is a way to access them:
Select 500 - Get a toilet paper Bender animation
At the main menu on the roulette table, hit left with your remote and the center of the roulette table will be selectable. You will find a "Congratulations - You have found a very obscure Futurama DVD Extra" which is Billy West voice acting as Zapp Brannigan.
"Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder" is another hilarious and enjoyable "FUTURAMA" film. I think it's also pretty good timing for a Blu-ray release since there have been no television episodes currently in production but the films on DVD and Blu-ray, fans can still look forward to the characters. And sales for "Futurama" on DVD have been quite positive.
"Into the Wild Green Yonder" definitely was enjoyable to watch on Blu-ray. Picture and audio quality was quite good and there are many special features included, so this release was definitely worthwhile.
The fourth Futurama film is a hilarious take on women's independence, ecology, corporate greed, taking care of endangered species, robot love and more. Definitely incorporates the wackiness that one expects from the television series and previous films. All-out fun!
I've read that the goal for four films of "Futurama" was that they would be split up into sixteen episodes for a fifth season on television. But in a recent interview with Wired, head writer David X. Cohen would not rule out more additional films straight-to-DVD or a theatrical release.
Personally, I think there is much life left in this series especially for the way this film ends. The adventures of Planet Express crew definitely has more exciting potential for more outlandish adventures and much more possibilities for more hilarious, fresh and crazy storylines may it be for television, the Internet or straight-to-DVD or theatrical film!
Nevertheless, every character has their own contribution to the wackiness of this film. And I have to say that of the four "Futurama" films released so far, this is by far my favorite.
"Futurama" fans will definitely find enjoyment in this Blu-ray Disc release.
on February 25, 2009
First of all, let me say that I enjoyed this movie. I laughed at a good deal of the jokes and appreciated all the call-backs to earlier Futurama episodes (especially to Fry's mental condition) and solid characterization.
Now the bad news. Instead of the space opera epic that the writers had hinted at, the final Futurama is an environmental protection episode. While this is indeed a noble cause, it doesn't deliver the meaningful final send-off for the good folks at Planet Express.
As long-time fans will know, most of the environmentally themed Futurama are marked with appearances by the "Waterfall" family. Debuting in "The Problem with Popplers" (sic?) this seemingly inexhaustible family line always heralds a "message" episode. The problem is: with the exception of the first appearance in "Popplers" these episodes tend to be both heavy-handed and weak. ("Freedom Day" and "Birdbot of Icecatraz" were not fan favorites) "Into the Wild Green Yonder" follows this trend, unfortuantly. Had this been any old episode it would be immeadiately forgivable, but as this is possibly the last time we'll see Futurama it is not.
The movie starts very strong with Fry gaining an interesting power and Bender pushing his luck against him in a poker match. Their roles stay more or less solid throughout the film. It's Leela's role as a member of a feminist environmental group that is the weakest point of the movie. (especially after her amazing subplot in the previous movie) The group itself is meant to be a satire but it comes of as more of a tired cliche. The afforementioned "Waterfall family" member isn't even well-done for a cliche!
What's most disappointing isn't so much the tale the movie tells as much as HOW it is told. Fans are obviously expecting a romantic subplot between Fry and Leela and it does exist, but lacks the build-up and emotional tension that is present in even some of the 30-minute episodes. ("Parasites Lost" for example) It seems a little tacked on. I will say that the writers did have a lot to sandwich into a 2 hour movie. Pretty much every character in the series' history has at least one line.
This is a solid movie and a lot of fun, but I can defintely say that it is not the incredible ending that these amazing characters deserved. It's possible that it was left open for more episodes and, if that's the case, I completely understand the decision to save the best stuff for later :)
on May 10, 2009
I wish I'd gotten this on Blu-Ray. I simply didn't think about it when I ordered it. Blu-Ray has video commentary, which would have been fun. The regular DVD has the same commentary, but audio-only, played on top of the movie as a language selection.
Great show, great extras, I really hope they keep making them like this. When I think back to a lot of other 30-minute TV shows that tried to make something feature length, it generally just falls flat (coughsimpsonscough) but the Futurama writers know their stuff and all of these post-network releases have been awesome. I will gladly pay-to-play for as long as they keep making them.
Although I have to say, I'd also like to see them try something like this: Drop the extras, go back to a 30 minute format and release the episodes straight to Amazon Unbox or iTunes for a couple bucks per episode and see how that sells. I would eat something like that UP. You could still collect them and release them in DVD format with commentary later on but I could really go for some more frequent Futurama.
I like it either way, I'm just sayin', there are other ways to get my money if the feature-length idea ever loses steam.
(Edit: Oh, I have to say I was kind of disappointed when they had literally the entire cast for every audio commentary on every Fururama DVD EXCEPT Lauren Tom (Amy). She's always missing from the extras/commentary. In this DVD, there is an entire extra feature that consists of just her. We find out that she is, in fact, responsible for the entire creation of the show... er, sort of.)
So here is what may be the last view we ever get of Futurama, and if that's the case... well, they could've gone out on a higher not.
Don't get me wrong. Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder is ok and all, but it suffers from the same problem as two of the other three direct-to-DVD movies (the exception being Bender's Game), in that it just doesn't feel like the show did.
Part of this is because they are doing it as a movie rather than as episodes, but it was written in an episodic form so it can be aired later on Comedy Central. You don't have to reach too far to see where the episode cuts are, and that causes plot lines developed in episode one (like Bender's seduction of a fine ladybot), to be dropped well before episode four.
Still, it had its funny moments and there wasn't anything particularly wrong with it. I just hope that if they do more Futurama they have the good sense to go back to doing it as seasons and not these little movies, cause just don't work.
on May 5, 2009
Into the Wild Green Yonder is an awesome Futurama movie. To put this in perspective, my favorite is Bender's Big Score, and I hated Beast with a Billion Backs.
This one stays true to the characters and has some pretty funny jokes in it too. It's fun to see Mr. Wong as a rich tyrant and Leela as a rebellion leader.
As always with any Futurama release, the commentary is as entertaining as the movie itself. If you're a fan be sure to check out the commentary.
on April 27, 2009
I thought this was a really great futurama movie. It is perhaps my favorite of the four movies because its not just a movie made for pre-existing fans. Its can be enjoyed by people that are fairly new to futurama and has lots of fun stuff for the fans to enjoy. I hope they come out with more, I would love to buy more.
on June 20, 2009
If you are true-blue Futurama fan, you know exactly how characters are supposed to act and what they normally say. Was the script written during a writer's strike? I own every single episode of Futurama which are all on my iPod, so I watch them constantly. The "A" and "B" stories were okay, but the mini-story lines within the major-line stories were lame and irrelevant. I loved Bender's Game and especially Bender's Big Score, but this is the worst of the four. I originally gave this movie one star, but just because I am a true Futurama fan for life, I gave it an extra star for just existing. I still love you, Futurama!
As with the previous three movies, this movie is feature length but was made to be cut into about 4 episodes to be played on tv. (And there's going to be new episodes! Yay!) The only thing about 'Green Yonder' is that it's very obvious that it is a bunch of episodes strung together.
This movie has the characters watching the destruction of the Mars version of Las Vegas & seeing the Wongs build a new resort... and displacing the native wildlife & greenery in the process. Infuriated, Leela vows that she'll stop the Wong's latest project- a massive golf course that will destroy a planet full of life in the process. Meanwhile Fry gains telepathy via a necklace lodged in his cranium & finds that (as usual) he's being relied on to save the universe. And of course since it's Fry, he'll more than likely bungle much of it in the process.
I really did like this movie, it's just that this didn't flow together as well as some of the previous movies did. It's pretty easy to see where the episodes were supposed to begin & end. It doesn't make the movie unwatchable by any means, but it does sort of interrupt the viewing flow. We all know that they're going to be sliced up into episodes, but it just makes for a jarring watching experience. Then there's also the humor- it was good but it just wasn't up to par with the humor in some of the other movies. (I'm not even going to bother comparing it to the humor in the tv show- that would be like comparing dollar store chocolate to Godiva's best.)
Now there are some bonuses to this- when the humor is good, it's good. I do also like that this movie tries incredibly hard to move some older plot points along & resolve them so they could move into new plot territory for the upcoming season. I do like some of the stories in this movie & I think that if I'd seen them as individual episodes, they would've been even better. It's just the movie's flow just sort of pulls some of the humor apart.
This is a movie that's going to be a definite buy for Futurama collectors. If you aren't into buying everything Futurama, I still recommend renting this at the very least. It isn't the strongest of the movies put out, but it's still enjoyable.