Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder
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FUTURAMA:INTO THE WILD GREEN YONDER - DVD Movie
- Amazon Sales Rank: #5889 in DVD
- Brand: Fox
- Released on: 2009-02-24
- Rating: Unrated
- Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Formats: AC-3, Animated, Color, Dolby, DVD, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
- Original language: English
- Subtitled in: English, French, Spanish
- Dimensions: .20 pounds
- Running time: 89 minutes
Matt Groening’s sci-fi adventure/comedy series Futurama comes to a typically absurd close with In the Wild Green Yonder, the fourth in a series of direct-to-DVD series that followed in the wake of the animated series’ cancellation in 2003. Yonder keeps in the kitchen-sink tradition of the show and features by cramming as many pop culture references as possible into its already convoluted plotline, from cameos by Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane and Snoop Dogg to riffs on eco-terrorism, The View and television poker tournaments. All are interwoven into the feature’s main storylines, which concern Fry’s sudden ability to read minds, a massive, environmentally unfriendly rebuild of Mars Vegas by Amy’s parents, and Leela’s admission into a group of radical eco-minded protestors who aim to bring that project to a halt. And if that’s not enough, there’s a threat to the universe as a whole from the Dark Ones, and the summation of various character arcs, including the long-simmering relationship between Fry and Leela. Obviously, In the Wild Green Yonder isn’t the place to start for first-time Futurama visitors; its immense cast of characters--which in one scene, swell to over 250 from the show’s entire network run and all of the features--and elaborate (if ridiculous) mythology will most likely leave most newcomers scratching their heads. Longtime fans, however, will appreciate the return of so many favorite personalities, including Zapp Brannigan and the mysterious No. 9, as well as the wrap-up of sorts provided by the conclusion (although, in typical fashion, it leaves room for a series return or another feature). The humor is spotty in places--Bender’s Big Game remains the best blend of comedy and storyline of the four features--but there are enough laughs to keep die-hards happy. The wealth of special features should accomplish that goal as well; the audio commentary by Groening, executive producer David X. Cohen, and members of the cast and production team is lively and full of anecdotes, while making-of featurettes provide a tour of the Futurama production offices, a gander at guest star Penn Jillette recording his cameo, and tips on drawing various characters. The most offbeat and amusing extras are faux PSAs from Bender and Zapp Brannigan (on movie theater etiquette and romance, respectively), and the producers’ field trip to a zero gravity simulator. --Paul Gaita
Stills from Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder (Click for larger image)
An epic adventure that feels uncomfortably imbalanced and tense at times
Into The Wild Green Yonder is the fourth and final installment in the series of direct-to-video Futurama movies, all of which are scheduled to be cut up into quarters and be broadcast as a "fifth season" on TV. While it's a decent enough episode in its own right and provides an poignant conclusion to the series, it demonstrates the difficulties (not insurmountable, but significant) in adapting Futurama's blend of witty satire, sci-fi action and character development to a feature film.
The first quarter of the movie shows our heroes enjoying a vacation in the New Mars Vegas, recently developed by Amy Wong's wealthy parents. The whole chapter is lighthearted, enjoyable and plants two seeds of the main plot -- Fry gets injured in an accident and gains telepathic powers, while Leela becomes upset at the extent to which the construction is destroying the environment. From here, the main story arcs develop: Leela joins an eco-feminist collective devoted to saving a violet dwarf star and planet and becomes a fugitive; Fry joins a secret society and learns that that the violet dwarf system is a key element in a cosmic struggle for the fate of all biological life in the universe; Bender teams up with Zapp Brannigan and initiates a crucial plot twist. The final scenes tie up a long-running thread in the Futurama saga and provide a touching (yet not excessively sentimental) conclusion to the Futurama series while leaving open the possibility of future adventures.
The massive, epic nature of the movie (a consequence of the feature-length format, as well as the writers' desire to go out with a bang) is responsible both for the strengths and the weaknesses of the episode. On the one hand, the characterization throughout the movie is very strong. Placed in stressful, completely unfamiliar circumstances, our heroes act in ways that are true to themselves for the most part without being overly predictable or coming off as caricatures of themselves. The artistry is impressive as well -- many of the shots of outer space are breathtaking, the opening Sinatra-themed number is a hit, and alert viewers will recognize the return of some of the moving musical themes from a previous movie. The writers and creative staff manage to take an epic adventure and make it connect with the viewer on a personal level.
On the other hand, the sci-fi content of the movie is sloppy and heavy-handed, with little of the nuance and subtlety of Futurama's previous ecologically-minded episodes. In addition, the satirical wit and goofiness that is the hallmark of the Futurama franchise gradually peters out about halfway through the movie -- the jokes don't disappear as such, but most of them are exhausted running jibes, while the genuinely clever lines and gags are unable to lighten the mood of the episode, making portions of the film feel tense and grim. It's clear that Futurama can become imbalanced when forced to adapt to the more massive, slower-developing story arcs of a feature-length film.
While this movie is certainly a mandatory purchase for devoted Futurama fans, who will appreciate the positive elements of this movie and be willing to leave the rest behind, novices are advised to start with the original series (or perhaps Bender's Big Score) before delving into the rest of the movies. As for the future of Futurama, the writers still seem to be capable of producing fresh ideas, and the events of Into The Wild Green Yonder leave several issues open as fodder for future releases (Twentieth Century Fox has just confirmed that Comedy Central has ordered 26 new episodes, to begin airing in 2010). Despite the unevenness of the movies, there's plenty of reason for optimism.
A Fun and lets hope not finale to the great show.
The fourth (and lets hope not final) of the planned straight to DVD Futurama movies, "Futurama: Into The Wild Green Yonder" has arrived and continues the winning formula of the television series and three previous films as well as ties things up nicely should this be the final outing for the Planet Express crew.
The film opens with a new take on the traditional opening and we are treated to the scenic Mars Vegas complete with futuristic interpretations of the class Las Vegas hotels. As the film opens, Mars Vegas is being destroyed to make way for a new and even better Mars Vegas. This does not sit well with Amy (Lauren Tom) as her father is the one behind all of this, and when she learns that he plans to eliminate portions of a solar system to make the universes biggest miniature golf course, she decides to join a militant feminist group with Leela (Katey Sagal).
As this is happening Fry (Billy West), learns that he has the power to read minds and is recruited by a secret organization who inform him of a great evil that is loose in the galaxy and that he will be the key to preserving the universe.
Bender (John Di Maggio), as usual is happy to drink and griftt his way through life, that is until a affair with a local crime figures wife provides him with some danger and distraction.
When a planned protest goes horribly wrong, Leela and Amy end up as fugitives and are doggedly pursued by Captain Zapp Brannigan as they race against the clock to save the creatures of the solar system from Leo Wong's planned construction.
The film is as usual, loaded with laughs and plenty of pop culture gags. Snoop Dogg and Penn Jilette make cameo appearances as do many of the characters from the series.
With sharp picture and sound, this is a very enjoyable new adventure for fans and should add demand for future adventures in the series and provide great viewing enjoyment.
There are loads of extras which include deleted scenes, commentaries, as well as deleted scenes.
4 stars out of 5
An odd choice for a final Futurama
First of all, let me say that I enjoyed this movie. I laughed at a good deal of the jokes and appreciated all the call-backs to earlier Futurama episodes (especially to Fry's mental condition) and solid characterization.
Now the bad news. Instead of the space opera epic that the writers had hinted at, the final Futurama is an environmental protection episode. While this is indeed a noble cause, it doesn't deliver the meaningful final send-off for the good folks at Planet Express.
As long-time fans will know, most of the environmentally themed Futurama are marked with appearances by the "Waterfall" family. Debuting in "The Problem with Popplers" (sic?) this seemingly inexhaustible family line always heralds a "message" episode. The problem is: with the exception of the first appearance in "Popplers" these episodes tend to be both heavy-handed and weak. ("Freedom Day" and "Birdbot of Icecatraz" were not fan favorites) "Into the Wild Green Yonder" follows this trend, unfortuantly. Had this been any old episode it would be immeadiately forgivable, but as this is possibly the last time we'll see Futurama it is not.
The movie starts very strong with Fry gaining an interesting power and Bender pushing his luck against him in a poker match. Their roles stay more or less solid throughout the film. It's Leela's role as a member of a feminist environmental group that is the weakest point of the movie. (especially after her amazing subplot in the previous movie) The group itself is meant to be a satire but it comes of as more of a tired cliche. The afforementioned "Waterfall family" member isn't even well-done for a cliche!
What's most disappointing isn't so much the tale the movie tells as much as HOW it is told. Fans are obviously expecting a romantic subplot between Fry and Leela and it does exist, but lacks the build-up and emotional tension that is present in even some of the 30-minute episodes. ("Parasites Lost" for example) It seems a little tacked on. I will say that the writers did have a lot to sandwich into a 2 hour movie. Pretty much every character in the series' history has at least one line.
This is a solid movie and a lot of fun, but I can defintely say that it is not the incredible ending that these amazing characters deserved. It's possible that it was left open for more episodes and, if that's the case, I completely understand the decision to save the best stuff for later :)