james debate
james debate

Friday, 20 February 2009

Directed by Peter Avanzino
Written by Ken Keeler, David X. Cohen
Starring Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio
Release date(s) 23rd February 2009
Running time 88 minutes

Futurama wild green yonder

Most people already know how I feel about Futurama. For me it is one of the best tv shows ever made; one of those rare examples in television of a tv show that can successfully and poignantly mingle joyously silly and witty fare with touching and meaningful serious moments, which are all the more effective for their skillful juxtaposition. It's the sort of art that has been so successfully crafted by shows like Scrubs and Life on Mars in the past, but a tact the likes of which has never been dared before by any cartoon.

It is for reasons such as these that the tv show developed such a loyal fanbase that led to it following in the footsteps of Family Guy and being resurrected in the form of 4 movies (which was later converted into another season's worth of tv).

The first movie was exceptional, funny and yet also touching in classic Futurama fashion. The second and third movies were plenty funny, but really not quite up to the standards set by the show during its glory days. Giving this perplexing matter some thought, I figured that like with most tv shows, the beginning and end of the tv season are the best bits. As such I decided that while the second and third movies were most likely the filler from the middle of the season, and so this final film of the four would have to be pretty damn special.

In 'Into the Wild Green Yonder', an accident causes a piece of necklace to lodge in Fry's head, giving him the ability to read minds. He joins the Legion of Mad Fellows, who are trying to prevent evil from destroying the gateway to the "green age". Meanwhile, Bender falls in love with a fembot married to Donbot, head of the Robot Mafia and Leo Wong goes to demolish an arm of the Milky Way for a miniature golf course, prompting Leela, Amy and LaBarbara to join an eco-feminist society on the run from the government and Zapp Brannigan.

Now don't get me wrong, this film is still very funny, and hey, it's Futurama, so how bad could it possibly be? But unfortunately this one has turned out to be my least favorite of the four films. There are some sweet moments (the last 5 minutes are pretty good) but overall, the touching moments never match classic scenes from past adventures, and the funny jokes are just too few and far between for this to really be classic Futurama.

There was no moment in this movie where I really felt blown away by what I was seeing, nor was there any gag that really sent me into a laughing fit as usually happens at least once in any episode of Futurama. That 'Scary Door' episode from the third movie had me in hysterics for a long long time, there's simply nothing THAT funny in this one sadly.

What makes it even more disappointing is that this could well be the last ever adventure of Futurama. This is the final movie planned (and with no production of any kind planned for the future, it all depends on how well these movies sell, so fingers crossed) and as a big finale it simply doesn't hit as hard as it should do. A show like this, one would hope, would go out with a bang, and this simply isn't it. So what would have been just a mediocre episode of Futurama turns into a big disappointment, just because I was hoping for so much more from such a significant moment in the franchise's history.

Also something I was looking forward to this movie for was the explanation behind the mysterious The Number 9 Man, a character who has been placed mysteriously in the background of the show since the first season. They did something similar during the first 5 seasons where Nibbler was revealed to actually have been present in the very first episode (and he is, you can go look for yourself) which gave us an amazing moment of realizing that the writers had the whole thing planned out for years. Sadly this number 9 man has just got some generic shoe-horned plot and I can't help but feel they really missed an opportunity to do something cool here.

The final moments of the film are very nice, and I expect a lot of people would be satisfied if the show left things at that, but frankly I don't feel it leaves me with a big enough sense of closure, partly because of the intentionally open ending they gave it. So welcome back wonderful Futurama, maybe for the last time, but i'll remember you for much more impressive outings than this one.

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