Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs (2008)

Genre(s): Animation / Comedy / Science Fiction
Fox || NR - 89 minutes - $29.99 || June 24, 2008
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2008-06-19


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Peter Avanzino
Writer(s): Matt Groening, David X. Cohen, Michael Rowe
Cast: Dan Castellaneta, David Cross, David Herman, Brittany Murphy, Katey Sagal


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • Futurama: The Lost Adventure
  • Storyboard Animatic
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Meet Yivo
  • Blooperama
  • 3D Model Gallery
  • History of Deathball
  • Bender's Game


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English

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.::THE FILM::.

Futurama is back for its second Direct to DVD Feature Length Film!

Nowadays it’s not that shocking to find out that a canceled show has been brought back in some fashion. “Family Guy” is the obviously the biggest, but some smaller shows have resurfaced with new episodes (“Greg the Bunny” comes to mind) so it was no surprise to hear that Matt Groening's baby “Futurama” would be brought back in the form of four feature length films that would be eventually trimmed down into 16 episodes to air on Comedy Central.

The first of these films was Benders Big Score which was a slight disappointment to fans. It suffered from a bad plot and overall was just not what many fans were expecting. The newest of the films, The Beast With A Billion Backs (try saying that five times fast) is an improvement, but suffers from a poorly executed final act.

Beast apparently takes place a few months after Benders Big Score and the only real plot line it keeps is the tear in the universe caused by the previous film. Well, apparently Fry (Billy West) meets a girl named Colleen (Brittany Murphy) and moves in with her only to find out she has several other boyfriends. This causes a riff between Bender (John Di Maggio) and Fry (who barley have any scenes together in this film oddly enough) and forces Bender to stalk the robot soap opera star Calculon. Bender soon finds out there is a secret club for robots and joins hoping to take over the human race, or something like that.

Fry, upset that Colleen is seeing other men, plans on stowing away aboard a ship to commit suicide in the universe tear. Little does he know beyond that is, yup, you guessed it, The Beast With A Billion Backs named Yivo (David Cross) who soon tries to take over planet Earth by shooting tentacles into every ones neck and mating with them.

The problem with Beast is not that it’s bad, it’s just after a very strong first act, the second didn't hold my interest and by the time the third act had started I was incredibly bored with the plot. It almost appears as if this was written as a normal 22 minute episode and was instead extended to 91 minutes with various subplots like Bender and the League of Robots, Kif and Amy getting "married", and the eventual death and magically rebirth of a character.

A lot of the humor is very subtle that young ones wouldn't get it and would be suitable for airing on Comedy Central. A few times during the film Bender becomes so scared that bricks magically fall between his legs. Now, I literally laughed so hard I had to pause the DVD and take a breather. The term "shitting bricks" has never before been so clear to me. As I mentioned Bender does this a few times during the film and each time I had to pause. Easily one of the best sight gags I have seen on “Futurama”.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Feature Commentary (Matt Groening, David Cohen, John Di Maggio, Billy West, Maurice LaMarche Peter Avanzino, Mike Rowe, Claudia Katz, and Lee Supercinski) - With all these people there is never a dull spot. Very entertaining and worth a listen. Where is Katey Segal?

Futurama: The Lost Adventure (30:11) - Now this is a real gem! Back in 2003 a “Futurama” game was released for both the Playstation 2 and Xbox. PQ/AQ. This is that game that has been cut up to form an episode. Its nearly all cell shaded... but looks decent. Given that the game is tough to find for either system and fetches a decent amount on eBay, this is a great addition to the DVD. Includes optional commentary.

Storyboard Animatic (21:44) - This is the first 21 minutes of the film presented via storyboards. It’s neat to look out (before all the effects are done), if you are interested in how things are done.

Deletes Scenes (3:23) - Presented here are 6 different deleted scenes that are shown with or without proper animation completed. Nothing here is a keeper, but I did like the alternate opening.

Meet Yivo (2:11) - A short conversation with the voice of Yivo, David Cross.

Blooperama (2:12) - A very short featurette that shows some of the cast messing up their lines. Once again, I hate these.

3D Model Gallery (4:11) - This goes into detail the development of several different items in the film.

History of Deathball (2:02) - Another short featurette that goes into Deathball with some of the designs. This was by far one my favorite scenes of the film (besides the bricks) so it’s a worthy addition.

Bender's Game (2:06) - A small preview of the third Futurama film.

Not including the commentary you get about an hour worth of special features. Not bad.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Unfortunately, I cannot comment on the picture quality because Fox sent out a watermarked screener. The quality of the video is often very poor and pixilated. If I get an actual retail copy of the disc from Fox I will update this with my impressions.

As for the audio, Fox has included a Dolby Digital 5.1 track that sounds pretty good. While the rear speakers were not used very much, I still found them to be fairly impressive when they were. Dialog is very clean.



.::OVERALL::.

Futurama's second direct to DVD film is a big improvement over the first but the last act is really slow. Still, if you are a “Futurama” fan please purchase this to support the show. Here's hoping we get a true Fifth season eventually!