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HTF REVIEW: Futurama - Bender's Big Score

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#1 of 24 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted December 30 2007 - 12:47 PM

Bender’s Big Score

Studio: 20th Century Fox
Original Release: 2007
Run Time: 89 minutes
Genre: Animation/Comedy

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 widescreen enhanced
Colour/B&W: Colour

Audio Formats:
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround

    Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    Rating: PG

  • Release Date: AVAILABLE NOW

    Film Rating: /

    Starring Voices of: Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, Phil LaMarr, Lauren Tom

    Written by: Matt Groening and others
    Directed by: Dwayne Carey-Hill

    All-New Feature-Length Epic!

    After a two year absence, the characters of Futurama are back for their first full-length movie titled Bender’s Big Score. The movie has the show’s typical crude humour, mostly spoken and acted by Bender, so fans of the cancelled series shouldn’t be disappointed with the direction of the film.

    Planet Express is taken hostage by scam artists. The Futurama crew all fall for email phishing scams by entering personal information to collect their Spanish lottery winnings or to order anti-depressants. Little does the Professor know that his entering of information signs off his company to the scam artists – a group of three ugly nude aliens. From this point the threaten to take over all of Planet Express with the help of Bender, who downloaded a virus into his brain from spam he was surfing in his head, and thus making him obey the aliens’ commands. Fry also finds himself as being an unwilling participant in this scam since he holds the key to time travel on the bottom on his buttocks.

    Time travel becomes a big subplot in this film as it veers from millennium to millennium many times over a period of at least a half hour. While seemingly crucial to the story, I felt the story to somewhat lose its direction over the course of time travel. The movie also tries to get complex with itself with temporal doubles of characters in multiple amounts. While I can understand what the writers were trying to do, I think younger audiences will be confused.


    The picture quality is good on DVD but in every case it lacks the stability, solidness, vividness, and depth of the high definition trailers on Fox’s Blu-ray disks. Animation can’t quite be graded the same way as live material, but there is nothing notably wrong or objectionable with the source material. The picture is bright in a darkened home theatre. White levels look dead-on accurate without a trace of clipping in the source. Since night time scenes are tinted blue rather than black or grey, “shadow detail” doesn’t really exist in this picture. Black levels do look deep when necessary and noise in the source doesn’t seem to show. This disc’s weak point would be the compression artefacts. After watching so much solid-performing HD transfers, the compression artefacts on DVDs are showing more than ever now.


    This soundtrack is a bit boring for a 5.1 presentation. Futurama is an animation set in space and a creative sound design certainly could have been used here. Like virtually everything else, dialogue is placed firmly in the center channel. It’s never strained and is always intelligible; it stands out nicely without being too aggressive. Many sound effects also occupy the role of the center channel when sometimes they could have been used in the other channels to make a more immersive experience. This is a missed opportunity. Occasionally there sound effects do spread in the rest of the mix such as the space ships flying in the climatic ending. I wasn’t a fan of the music in this movie (and I detest the theme song) but its tone is balanced nicely and wraps around the viewer.


    Laser blasts, explosions, and some heaving hitting sounds are added to the LFE and add a subtle but nice effect to the rumbling of the seat.


    Not a bad load of features on this disc for a straight-to-video release. We get:

  • Audio commentary - a load of participants included in this one to make the viewing much more entertaining the second time around. We have Matt Groening, David X. Cohen, Billy West, John DiMaggio, Phil Lamarr, Claudia Katz, Dwayne Carey-Hill and Ken Keeler all adding their input to the creation of this movie.

  • Futurama Returns (4:3, 8m50s) – This is a live recording set in an audience; pages of a Futurama comic are flipped as the cast of the Futurama characters reads it aloud.

  • Everybody Loves Hypnotoad (16:9, 22m) – I dare you to watch this one all the way through without hitting the FWD button on your player’s remote control. My favourite feature of all (because it’s just so…hypnotic), is this “spellbinding episode of the future’s most popular TV program. There are gems laid throughout. Once again, I dare you to watch the whole thing through without working on something else…

  • Deleted Storyboard Scenes (16:9, 3m34s) – just as stated with voices of the cast in place.

  • A Terrifying Message from Al Gore – Animated Promo for An Inconvenient Truth (4:3, 1m24s) – is it just me or am I the only one who is sick of Al Gore parodies and Bush bashing? I don’t even live in the U.S.A. and I’m bored to tears. Anyways, if you love Al Gore, you’ll like his environmentally friendly approach to beating up Bender. An optional video commentary by Al Gore, Matt Groening, and David X. Cohen can be viewed with this clip. It’s not in the same fashion of what we’ve seen on the high def formats but nice to see implemented a different way on DVD.

  • Bite My Shiny Metal X (4:3, 26m04s) – tucked in a small lecture room, a professor of math discusses math formulas used in the Futurama series with the creators of the series.

    Also included are 3D Models/Turnarounds, the original first draft of the script to read through, new character and design sketches, and the original 5-minute Comic-Con Promo for this movie (16:9, 4m56s).

    Keep your eye open for an Easter Egg too.

    IN THE END...

    Keeping in the Futurama spirit, this movie will likely please fans but those not familiar with the series will probably pass on it since little, if any, back story is talked about. Prior knowledge of the series is almost a necessity. While I wasn’t a fan of the film, I felt that both the audio and video quality was acceptable for a straight-to-video release.

    Michael Osadciw
    December 30, 2007.

    Review System

    Michael Osadciw

    THX/ISF Professional Video Calibrator

    Video Contributor

    CANADA HiFi Magazine

    #2 of 24 OFFLINE   Ric Easton

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    Posted December 30 2007 - 04:01 PM

    Thanks for this review, Michael. Still haven't picked this up yet, but I'm looking forward to it. I was enjoying this show more than the Simpsons when it was out. BTW, I heard this movie takes place 2 years later in the character's lives, but it's been over 4 years for us fans! Last new episode was August 2003.

    #3 of 24 OFFLINE   Will_B



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    Posted December 30 2007 - 05:02 PM

    The film starts out with a plot development that felt about ten years beyond its sell-by date, involving computer viruses. After about a half hour without laughs there were some funny moments, but not a lot of them. I hope the next one is better.
    "Scientists are saying the future is going to be far more futuristic than they originally predicted." -Krysta Now

    #4 of 24 OFFLINE   Miles


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    Posted December 31 2007 - 04:25 AM

    My thoughts are the same. I was enjoying the series more than the Simpsons, but this movie doesn't seem to capture what magic they had w/ the series... Also I was bummed The Simpsons Movie on blu-ray had a high-def trailer for this movie that made the DVD presentation look pretty bad.

    #5 of 24 OFFLINE   TravisR


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    Posted December 31 2007 - 06:16 AM

    I loved it and thought it was easily on par with the series.

    #6 of 24 OFFLINE   mike kaminski

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    Posted December 31 2007 - 06:17 AM

    Futurama is my favourite show, so I had high hopes for this, and while the previous series was far better than this, its a decent start when you consider that its been something like 4 years since the show last aired. As a start, it shows promise, especially considering that the writers state that this one was the most difficult to write--the upcoming films ought to show marked improvement. (one criticism that I agree with is that theres not so many jokes compared to the series; I'm sure this has to do with the severely convoluted plot that is constantly having to be explained, so hopefully future entries will be a bit "jokier".)

    #7 of 24 OFFLINE   JeremyErwin



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    Posted December 31 2007 - 09:10 AM

    I liked, thought it was hilarious. I would have liked to have seen them stick to the original script when Hermes was hooked up into the battlecomputer.

    #8 of 24 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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    Posted December 31 2007 - 09:35 AM

    This movie would be worthwhile if for no reason other than the hilarious dig at Family Guy...
    Colin Jacobson

    #9 of 24 OFFLINE   nolesrule



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    Posted December 31 2007 - 10:20 AM

    I also enjoyed it and thought it was on par with therest of the series.

    #10 of 24 OFFLINE   Sam Favate

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    Posted January 01 2008 - 05:09 AM

    I thought the movie was terrific. It was as irreverent and funny as ever, and the animation was sharper than anything else out there.

    #11 of 24 OFFLINE   GregK


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    Posted January 01 2008 - 06:11 AM

    Ric!!? With an already classic signature like yours, I thought this would have been a next day watch for you!

    #12 of 24 OFFLINE   Jeff Jacobson

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    Posted January 01 2008 - 06:58 AM

    Have computer viruses and phishing been eliminated? How did I miss this this news?

    #13 of 24 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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    Posted January 01 2008 - 08:58 AM

    Well, I can understand that plots about viruses and phishing feel stale, even if those both exist. In the same vein, when Genesis put out "Jesus He Knows Me" in 1991 - with its mocking of televangelists - it felt about five years too late. Televangelists still existed in 1991, of course, but they weren't newsworthy like they were a few years earlier. I can see plots about viruses and phishing being viewed the same way: they're still out there, but they're not exactly fresh, as they've been used many, many times for comedic fodder...
    Colin Jacobson

    #14 of 24 OFFLINE   mike kaminski

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    Posted January 01 2008 - 04:18 PM

    It also is weird the way they exist exactly the same way they do now and that everyone acts like they've never seen them before, with all sorts of disastrous results. Thats what was stale about it.

    #15 of 24 OFFLINE   Chad Ferguson

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    Posted January 01 2008 - 07:03 PM

    I found this movie amazing and I loved all the little connections to the history of the how with the time travel. I hope the rest go just like this one!

    #16 of 24 OFFLINE   JonZ


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    Posted January 02 2008 - 12:30 AM

    I enjoyed this as well. Loved the digs at Fox and being cancelled/fired in the beginning.

    #17 of 24 OFFLINE   Ron68


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    Posted January 08 2008 - 04:52 PM

    I enjoyed this movie a lot. I really liked the time travel elements and the nods to episodes from the series. I think the movie was better than some of the weaker episodes from the show and the cast did a great job of recapturing their characters after such a long period after the show had ended. The only part I didn't like was the musical number. I haven't finished the extras yet but I fast forwarded through the Hypnotoad episode and really like the Math featurette. Can't wait for the next movie.

    #18 of 24 OFFLINE   nolesrule



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    Posted January 08 2008 - 05:00 PM

    You missed the best parts. Posted Image

    #19 of 24 OFFLINE   Don Giro

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    Posted January 08 2008 - 10:23 PM

    I loved it! I got a kick out of the "math" featurette, but haven't tried "Hypnotoad" as of yet. My favorite part was a "throwaway" bit that I got blindsided by:
    Bender ejecting the drunk from the phone booth (that he thinks is a suicide booth): The drunk is on the phone apologizing to a bartender and trying to scam another drink...

    When she embraces, your heart turns to stone
    She comes at night, when you're all alone
    And when she whispers, your blood shall run cold
    You'd better hide before she finds you...

    #20 of 24 OFFLINE   Will_B



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    Posted January 09 2008 - 04:46 AM

    "The drunk is on the phone apologizing to a bartender and trying to scam another drink..." I noticed that too, but why is it funny? Is it a reference to something that is funny?
    "Scientists are saying the future is going to be far more futuristic than they originally predicted." -Krysta Now

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