DVD Review – Futurama: The Beast With A Billion Backs

Or, what if a Lovecraftian monster from another dimension didn’t want to kill all humans but love all humans? Which, although not as snappy a title, does sum things up for this second straight-to-DVD Futurama movie. Following on from the first adventure, there is a large tear in the universe because of Bender abusing time travel. Upon investigation by the Planet Express crew, it is discovered that only living creatures can pass through the anomaly unaffected (Bender was zapped when he was sent in) and the decision is made to destroy whatever is on the other side, in traditional human fashion.

Fry, having started a relationship with a girl and moved in with her, becomes depressed when he discovers that she already has four other boyfriends and leaves her because he can’t handle polygamous relationships. He stows away on the destructive expedition and enters the anomaly, which causes the mission to fail (and Kif to die), and discovers a one-eyed, planet-sized, tentacled creature. This creature, having been alerted to the presence of the other dimension, attacks Earth with the tentacles, which become attached to every person on the planet (except for Leela, who deliberately avoids the tentacles), making them subservient to the creature and suffused with love for it. However, it is not an invasion, rather the first attempts at love-making on behalf of the creature, called Yivo. The next step in the relationship is the decision to move in together, which is complicated by the fact that Bender isn’t happy about the situation …

The first third of this feature is strong: it’s funny, fast, silly and entertaining – a story where Bender joins The League of Robots by an initiation of drinking vast quantities of alcohol is classic Futurama. However, turning the story into a full-length film seems to cause the balance to wobble, the laughs being replaced by plot and the central idea of Yivo supposedly being funny in itself, which doesn’t sustain momentum. The thought that these films will be shown on television in episodic form weighs heavy on proceedings, as you keep wondering where the advertisement breaks will come. There’s also the lingering idea that Futurama works best in the concentrated form of the 22-minute episode: get in, be funny, tell the story, get out. The quality of writing and production is still all there, but the feeling of quality from some of the great episodes isn’t there for the duration. Futurama is not alone in this respect – John Cleese talked about the difficulty of sustaining laughter over 90 minutes when they transferred Monty Python to the big screen. This adventure is still fun and it’s always a blast to see any form of Futurama, and it’s funnier and less fan-oriented than the first film, but it’s still not quite as good as we know Futurama can be.

Rating: VID

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