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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder



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#1 of 8 Cameron Yee

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Posted February 28 2009 - 10:00 AM

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Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder

Release Date: Available now (released February 10, 2009)
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Packaging/Materials: Single-disc Blu-Ray case with collectible postcards
Year: 2009
Rating: UR
Running Time: 1h29m
MSRP: $39.99

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


The Feature: 3.5/5
The Planet Express crew continue their misadventures in this fourth and final animated, direct-to-video feature, following "Bender's Big Score," "The Beast with A Billion Backs," and "Bender's Big Score." In this installment Amy Wong's father Leo is out to destroy a violet dwarf star system to make way for his galactic-sized miniature golf course. Horrified by the impending destruction, Leela joins the Eco-Feministas in an attempt to stop it, while Fry develops telepathic powers that put him on a quest that proves as old as the known universe. Not to be outdone, Bender has an affair with Don Robot's wife Fanny, wins a million dollars in a poker tournament and gets dressed like a prostitute.

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. 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. In fact, these direct-to-video movies have proved successful enough that there are rumors Fox will be bringing the show back to television. I can think of plenty of prematurely canceled shows I would have loved to see get the same treatment and possible second lease on life.


Video Quality: 4.5/5
The film is correctly framed at 1.78:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec. Black levels are very good, stable and deep. Fine object detail is hard to judge, given the lack of surface textures, but several 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 mild aliasing along the edges of the line art, along with some slight edge halos, giving the overall image a hardness that it could have done without.


Audio Quality: 4/5
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, mostly involving explosions, the rolling of giant miniature golf balls, and Bender's tunneling skills. Dialogue, which dominates the film, is consistently clear and intelligible.


Special Features: 4/5
As with the previous release, there's a mix of the informational and nonsensical. Video is in high definition unless noted otherwise.

Commentary by Matt Groening, David X. Cohen, John DiMaggio, Maurice LaMarche, Patric M. Verrone, Michael Rowe, Lee Supercinski, and Peter Avanzino: The jovial crew have an obvious camaraderie 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: "Into the Wild Green Yonder Part 1" (22m26s): 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.

"Docudramarama: How We Make Futurama So Good" (5m09s): A tongue-in-cheek, behind-the-scenes tour of the animation offices, featuring actress Lauren Tom.

"'Louder, Louder!': The Acting Technique of Penn Jillette" (2m08s): Behind-the-scenes of Jillette's recording session. In standard definition.

"Golden Stinkers: A Treasury of Deleted Scenes" (2m52s): Five deleted scenes, some still in storyboard form.

"Matt Groening and David X. Cohen In Space!" (4m23s): Groening and Cohen talk about their Zero G zero gravity flight, with photos and video footage from their trip. In standard definition.

"How to Draw Futurama in 10 Very Difficult Steps" (11m10s): Animators demonstrate how to draw Professor Farnsworth, Nibbler, Hypnotoad and Fry.

3D Models with Animator Discussion (4m19s): 3D animators show-and-tell several of their creations, including the life-supporting asteroid, the Feminista Ecovan, giant gorilla golf hole, the Nimbus split in two, and the asteroidal wormhole.

"Bender's Movie Theater Etiquette" (1m16s): Some pre-movie viewing rules, courtesty of Bender. In standard definition.

"Zapp Brannigan's Guide to Making Love At A Woman" (2m49s): Ten of Zapp's tested tips for meeting and attracting women.

Postcards: Four postcard reproductions of "Futurama" giclee prints. Details for purchasing the prints is provided on the cards.


Recap

The Feature: 3.5/5
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 4/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4/5

A direct-to-video feature closing out (maybe for now) 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 8 Martin Henry

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Posted February 28 2009 - 12:33 PM

Put me out like a light, this one did. Big fan of the show, but these movies are dreck. Bender's Big Score was the only one that I,(begrudgingly), enjoyed.

#3 of 8 Eric F

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Posted February 28 2009 - 01:55 PM

I'm a big fan of the show too and I didn't much care for this one either. It's disjointed and just a big ole mess. On the other hand it looks amazing.

#4 of 8 TravisR

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Posted February 28 2009 - 03:10 PM

Unlike every other person on the internet, I liked all the movies. Sure, none of them hit the heights of the series but that's a tall order.

#5 of 8 ATimson

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Posted February 28 2009 - 04:53 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TravisR
Unlike every other person on the internet, I liked all the movies. Sure, none of them hit the heights of the series but that's a tall order.
I wasn't a big fan of "Beast with a Billion Backs", but I enjoyed the other three. I especially appreciate the fourth episode of "Yonder", which between the scene where every (adult) Futurama character ever appeared*, and the very last scene, managed to be a very effective swan song for the series in case this is indeed the end.

* Or at least that's what the script called for. They ended up with roughly 200 or so, which ought to be a pretty good crosssection. Posted Image
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#6 of 8 WillG

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Posted February 28 2009 - 05:26 PM

The thing about Futurama is that any given episode can go in any direction. So there will be bound to be some "hit or miss" factor depending on what you like. If you are into D&D and "Lord of the Rings" you would probably like "Bender's Game" for example. If you like time travelling adventures, "Bender's Big Score" would be for you.

What I wonder is that if these DtV releases have been successful, wouldn't we have heard that more have been green lighted by now? I would have thought an offer would have been made shortly after "Bender's Game" was released. But as of October (when Groening, Cohen etc. recoded their commentary) they still refer to it as their "possibly last project)
STOP HIM! He's supposed to die!

#7 of 8 TravisR

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Posted March 01 2009 - 01:02 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by WillG
What I wonder is that if these DtV releases have been successful, wouldn't we have heard that more have been green lighted by now?
Billy West has said that Fox is talking about putting the show back on their network. Obviously, that's not a guarantee but it sounds like the network and the creators are at least talking about more shows.

More FUTURAMA Coming To Fox Network?? It's Possible, Says Zapp Brannigan!! -- Ain't It Cool News: The best in movie, TV, DVD, and comic book news.

#8 of 8 WillG

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Posted March 02 2009 - 02:02 AM

Wow, I think I'm in agreement with AICN on this one. I would love to see Futurama back on TV, but I worry that if it doesn't work in the way the return of Family Guy did it would kill Futurama for good. I do think that Futurama would have a more difficult time being that successful. I think that Futurama would be more difficult to digest for mainstream audiences because the humor is more sophisticated and is also a love letter to nerds. I don't know how many viewers watch on Comedy Central, but being a hit on CC and being a hit on a network is a world of difference. I know that the DVD season sets sold well, but from what I understand so did "Arrested Development" (although in all fairness there, supposedly there is an AD movie coming) But the point is that success in terms of DVD sales vs. network ratings, again, is very different. But as long as Futurama continues to flourish in some form, I'll be happy either way.

Now I will admit that the DtV movies have not quite hit the heights of some of the best regular series episodes, but to me that's like saying a good hamburger isn't as "tasty" as filet mignon. If I could change anything about the movies, it's that I wish they would make actual Futurama movies and not just a glorified 4-part episode. For example in ItWGY, while a World Series of Poker competition between Bender and Fry is a funny idea, it had virtually nothing to do with the story. To me that would have worked better as a regular, 30min episode.
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