Wednesday, July 02, 2008

REVIEW: Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs

Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs

Year: 2008
Director: Peter Avanzino
Starring: Billy West, Katey Sagal, John Di Maggio, Phil LaMarr, Lauren Tom
Distributor: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
MPAA: Not Rated

Bender's Big Score was only one of four straight-to-DVD films that was to be split into sixteen episodes that will make the fifth season of Futurama. After the series got cancelled in 2003, all hope was lost for the many fans that loved this show. Finally Fox heard our cries and decided to bring Futurama back for a fifth season which was basically the four DVDs, but split up to make it like a regular episode. This was great news because I'm a huge fan of the series and loved every episode even though their were some un-funny ones. The Beast with a Billion Backs is the second of the upcoming DVDs. After having a great time with Bender's Big Score in my other review, I felt the rest of the upcoming DVDs would be the same.

Plot Outline:
Attempting to tie up that space rip problem that happened in the first film, Stephen Hawking teams Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) and his arch-enemy Ogden Wernstrom (David Herman) to figure out the problem. Meanwhile, Fry (Billy West) attempts to deal with his new girlfriend Colleen (Britney Murphy) and her quartet of other boyfriends. When he finally decides, after weeks, that he can't compete with four other guys he decides to float himself to the space anomaly and end and it all. Unfortunately, he returns to earth hooked to an alien tentacle named Yivo (David Cross) and proclaims a new religion.

The plot for The Beast with a Billion Backs is pretty good. The first 40 minutes of the movie starts off really good and continues right where the first film left off. We get introduced to new characters like Colleen and Yivo which isn't a bad thing because it adds more character development to the cast. From there on, the story kind of falls apart by rushing to many things. By the end of the movie, I kind of felt like watching that episode "Mother's Day", but only alittle different. The movie tries too hard to focus on the romantic aspect of the story that doesn't work for the most part. The story also isn't very emotionally effect like the first film was. The jokes also aren't very funny when compared to the TV series or even the last movie, Bender's Big Score. I only laughed maybe three or four times through out the whole movie. I just didn't think the jokes were was smart or cleaver as the ones we have heard before. Despite the un-easy plot of The Beast with a Billion Backs, I still had fun with this movie. I thought it fell alittle short of the first movie, but was still enjoyable to some extent.

The cast for The Beast with a Billion Backs is great. Everyone from the main TV show returns and we also get a host of new talent like Brittany Murphy, David Cross, etc. While this is an animated film where their isn't any live action acting involved, I will have to base my review on their voice work. So far everyone seemed to sound great and what you would expect from a Futurama movie. I hope the next movie also features some new Hollywood talent because I really liked what was here.

The visual look of The Beast with a Billion Backs is good. The movie like the TV show is in 2D animation just like The Simpsons. This is the first time the series is presented in wide screen 16:9. So everything is a big improvement from the TV show. Colors are brighter, image seems more crisper and cleaner. However, I'm not sure if it was just my TV settings or something, but I kind of felt this was alittle downgrade from Bender's Big Score. The colors although bright, seemed somewhat muted to me. They didn't look as good and vibrant as I would have hoped for. I could be wrong on this and that this movie could look on par if not better than Bender's Big Score, but that's what my TV was showing me. The movie doesn't look as sharp or vivid as The Simpsons Movie did, but it still looks pretty good.

The soundtrack in The Beast with a Billion Backs is great. Composer Christopher Tyng who scored the first film returns once more to score this film. The intro to the movie has the same theme song that the regular episodes had. No, it doesn't have the remixed version that the first film had in its intro which kind of sucks because I really liked that version. Instead, that remixed one is in the end credits. The movie is also presented in 5.1 surround sound with the soundtrack really benefiting from the bigger space. Bass is also pretty good with some moments receiving a big boost from the bass. The Beast with a Billion Backs soundtrack is just as great as the one in Bender's Big Score. It might not be as lively as the first film, but its still great.

Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs is the second DVD from the popular TV series that was once declared dead. This new movie isn't as great as the first film. The plot isn't as memorable and feels somewhat rushed. It starts off great, but goes kind of down hill in the second half. The cast is great with almost everyone from the TV series returning along with some new Hollywood talent. The visual look of the movie is good, but I'm not sure if its up to par with the first film. The soundtrack is loving and pretty much the same music you heard from the previous Futurama episodes, but that's not a bad thing. I enjoyed The Beast with a Billion Backs, but it was not as good as Bender's Big Score. I can recommend this to any Futurama fan, but just don't go in expecting the best. Here's hoping the next movie Bender's Game which is scheduled to come out this year turns out to much better than this film.

Grade: C

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