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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Futurama: Bender's Game

Blu-ray Reviews

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#1 of 3 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted November 08 2008 - 04:31 AM

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Release Date: Available now (original release date November 4, 2008)
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Packaging/Materials: Single-disc Blu-Ray case with collectible postcards
Year: 2008
Rating: UR
Running Time: 1h27m
MSRP: $39.99

MAIN FEATURE
Video1080p high definition 16x9 1.78:1
AudioDTS HD Master Audio: English 5.1
SubtitlesEnglish, Spanish, French, Cantonese


The Feature: 3.5/5
"Futurama's" Planet Express crew continue their misadventures in this third animated, direct-to-video feature, following "Bender's Big Score" and "The Beast with A Billion Backs." In this installment there's a shortage of dark matter fuel, a situation MomCorp appears to be manipulating. Meanwhile, Bender becomes addicted to Dungeons and Dragons, having used his imagination for the first time. As the crew make their way to the sole source of fuel in the universe to solve the crisis, Bender's grasp on reality fades and the crew get inexplicably sucked in to his fantasy.

This and the previous direct-to-video "Futurama" projects were undeniably made for the fans of the TV show, which was canceled back in 2003. There will be a fourth feature ("Into the Wild Green Yonder") that will officially close out the series. Having a mild familiarity with the show, I found the feature consistent with the show's nonsensical and "see what sticks" variety of humor, which I have always found about 50% funny. But I'm clearly not the core audience for this thing. On a more general level, I can't help but be impressed by the existence of these projects, which represent real gifts to fans. I can think of plenty of prematurely canceled shows I would have loved to see get the same treatment.


Video Quality: 4/5
The film is correctly framed at 1.78:1, encoded in AVC and devoid of blemishes. Black levels are very good, stable and deep. Fine object detail is hard to judge, given the lack of surface textures, but a couple shots of dense, CGI starfields show very good clarity and detail. Colors are also very good, the purple of Leela's purple ponytail and Fry's orange shock of hair showing nice depth and pop. The only noticeable issues with the transfer are aliasing along the edges of the line art, along with some slight edge enhancement, giving the overall image a hardness that it could have done without.


Audio Quality: 3.5/5
The DTS HD Master Audio audio track is reasonably detailed, dynamic and enveloping. Surround channels provide occasional directional effects and general support for dramatic cues in the score. There are also some nice moments of LFE sprinkled throughout and particularly in the finale. Dialogue, which dominates the film, is consistently clear and intelligible.


Special Features: 4/5

Commentary by Matt Groening, David X. Cohen, Billy West, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille, Michael Rowe, Claudia Katz, and Dwayne Carey-Hill: The jovial crew have an obvious cameraderie and rapport, which tends to get in the way of providing an informative track. If you're a fan of goofing off and joking (some of it quite funny, mind you) by the creators and voices of the show, you won't be disappointed.

Video Commentary Picture-In-Picture: Those with "Bonus View" capable players (Profile 1.1) have the option of seeing the faces behind the commentary. Unfortunately it mostly proves to be a distraction as the video footage is simply of the headphone-clad commentary crew doing the commentary. The overlaid video is sized well, but as it provides nothing of visual value it mostly becomes an obstruction to viewing the feature.

Storyboard Animatic (21m47s): Rough animation using storyboard panels with sound effects and dialogue make for an interesting look at the animation process, though having it picture-in-picture alongside the feature may have been more instructive.

Futurama Genetics Lab: Combine your favorite characters to create a new character or creature. For example, Fry and Leela make Freela.

"D&D&F (Dungeons and Dragons and Futurama)" Featurette (7m00s): Cohen and writers talk about how Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) has influenced the show, including the appearance of different D&D creatures Gary Gygax, the creator of the game. In high definition and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

"How to Draw Futurama in 83 Easy Steps" Featurette (7m52s): Animators show how they draw the characters, including Zoidberg, Leela, Bender, and Flexo. In high definition with stereo audio.

3D Models with Animator Discussion (5m03s): A look at the 3D models of the spaceships, with animator commentary. In high definition.

Deleted Scene: "Cup or Nozzle?" (1m03s): The mostly-completed scene is in high definition with stereo audio.

"Blooperama 2" Outtakes from "Bender's Game" (1m50s): Various goofs from the cast recording session.

Bender's Anti-Piracy Warning (1m11s): Bender tries to highlight the ills of illegal downloads in this animated spoof of a public service announcement. In high definition with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

"Into the Wild Green Yonder" (1m14s): A preview of the next direct-to-video Futurama feature, "Into the Wild Green Yonder."

Postcards: Four postcard reproductions of Futurama giclee prints, available for purchase online.

Easter Egg: "Geyser of Gygax" (1m23s): One more recording session blooper.


Recap

The Feature: 3.5/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 4/5
Overall Score (not an average): 3.5/5

A direct-to-video feature continuing the "Futurama" TV show gets very good treatment across the board. Expressly made for fans of the show, those mildly interested are better off looking to the season sets to enter the "Futurama" universe.
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#2 of 3 OFFLINE   LynxFX

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Posted November 08 2008 - 10:41 AM

Just a correction:
Quote:
of the TV show, which was canceled last year after having had its start on Fox and then its final seasons on Cartoon Network.
The last new episode created for the show aired August of 2003 on Fox. Cartoon Network just reran the series, they didn't get anything new. These movies are the first new bits of Futurama we have seen since its cancellation 5 years ago.

#3 of 3 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

Cameron Yee

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Posted November 08 2008 - 10:46 AM

Thanks for the clarification. I've updated that bit.
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