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Futurama: Fun on a Bun (2012)
A mess of mammoth proportions
This episode is probably one of Futurama's worst in my opinion. I appreciate the change of pace, and the animation is good as always, but the writing and the jokes are really lacking. Still, it continues a trend of weak or just plain bad episodes in the new season.
The crew goes to Oktoberfest and Fry is disappointed to see it's become a posh and sophisticated event more akin to a stuffy wine tasting rather than the wild festivals he'd been to in 20th century USA. Bender runs into Elzar yet again (I'm tired of that character, how about you?) and is inspired to enter a sausage-making contest. In order to make a unique sausage Bender decides to use meat that's been aged thousands of years and since he doesn't have a mummified pig he decides to go for a woolly mammoth. Even though Fry is drunk from the festive the pair fly off to a frozen mountain searching a mammoth. They quickly find one with the ship's elephant detector (modified by Bender to detect more mammoth-like traits of course) and set to making sausage immediately with a giant meat grinder. Fry's hair gets caught by the mammoth's skin folds (ugh!) and he's pulled into the machine. Bender doesn't notice Fry's distress as he's dispensing the sausage from his arms and we the audience are led to believe Fry has been killed.
Back at Oktoberfest we see the crew enjoying Bender's sausage and cringe at the thought that they might be consuming Fry's flesh. Leela ends up with bits of Fry's hair in her mouth and screams in horror. The crew holds yet another funeral for Fry and Leela is determined to have her memories of Fry severed from her conscience at a Forgettery boutique.
For a brief time the crew goes back to work and tries to keep from reminding Leela of Fry. This includes Hermes from saying words like "Friday" or "French Fries".
Meanwhile we see that Fry is indeed alive (albeit frozen) under the ice mountain that he and Bender found the mammoth. Turns out there's an entire Neanderthal society there living in a green and fertile valley (warm enough for palm trees yet cold enough for Fry to be completely covered in ice in a short time?). It seems Fry's memory is blocked by an injury and swelling on his forehead - which serves to make him look like the Neanderthals).
Eventually things come to a head when Fry is accepted into the Neanderthal society and they decide to attack the modern humans which rejected them long ago. This being new Futurama, the modern humans with amazing technology are swiftly being wiped out by the Neanderthals and their wooden spears and woolly mammoths.
After Leela wrecks the Planet Express ship during an idiotic attack against Fry and his mammoth they end up in hand to hand combat. Both of their memories are shortly restored and and the battle ends as man and 'thal decide to exist peacefully (and to breed).
In the end all is well and Oktoberfest now resembles the olden days winning over Fry's approval. Drinking, music, and Leela dancing on a table. The End.
So back to the review portion, I didn't much care for this episode. It was just a ridiculous mess. I guess if I were someone who really loved getting hammered on the weekend and if Oktoberfest were some sort of pilgrimage to me I might have enjoyed it more. As it is, I just found myself disappointed with the continued assassination of the characters I used to love and the horrible jokes that are becoming a regular part of Futurama. I can get stupid humor from Family Guy or the Simpsons, I liked Futurama of the past because it was a touch smarter. Now we've got obvious humor that could be written by a 12-year old. We've got characters that are dumb, with flat personalities and are there strictly to service the plot or to setup a single joke. That's disappointing.
On a brighter note, the animation in this episode was really fantastic at times (the action scenes). And I did like all the new and colorful scenery. At least the show looks good.
In the end, I'm still glad to have Futurama back and it is something that I tune into each week. We've gotten a few gems in these last two seasons, and those are worth the price of admission by themselves. I just wish the creators would aim a bit higher. Lowbrow comedy is easy, and abundant these days. Please aim higher Futurama, you've got an entire universe of 31st century possibilities.
Now that's more like it! They're back baby!
They're back baby! Futurama returns to form after the two previous duds that were Bender's Game and The Beast with a Billion Backs. I was worried that Futurama was past its prime and that maybe it should end after movie #4. But after seeing "Into the Wild Green Yonder" I hope that Futurama is just getting started again!
The movie starts off with our crew enjoying a vacation in New Mars Vegas developed by Amy Wong's parents moments after demolishing old Mars Vegas. During the construction, the Greenorita Eco-Feminist Collective led by Frida Waterfall come to protest against Leo Wong. Fry gets injured in an explosion and gains telepathic powers after a piece of a necklace is logged in his skull. Leela eventually gets fed up with Leo Wong's plan to demolish a large portion of the Milky Way galaxy to build an enormous miniature golf course and joins the Feminitos. From this point, the main story arcs develop:
1) Leela and her eco-feminists work to save a violet dwarf star and a primordial planet. After President Nixon and Zapp Brannigan are bought off by Leo Wong, Leela and the other women of Futurama become fugitives.
2) Fry meets a homeless bum named Hutch who teaches him to block the constant noise of other people's thoughts with a tinfoil hat and is brought into a secret society led by the number 9 man. He must find out who the Dark Ones are and protect the violet dwarf star from destruction.
3) Bender falls in love with the Don Bot's wife, wins a poker tournament, and double crosses most everyone.
4) Everyone comes together in the end to watch Leo Wong's demolition of the dwarf star, the Dark One is revealed, and our crew end the movie fleeing into a worm hole and a touching moment.
I hope Futurama returns again! This movie is massive, though not epic in how much story is laid out. Overall I would say that Bender's Big Score was the biggest story, which you really had to pay attention to in order not to get lost. Billion Backs and Bender's Game were just long. Into the Wild Green Yonder is enjoyable, interesting, and very smooth all the way through. I felt that Billion Backs and Bender's Game were pretty jerky and showed their seams too easily while Bender's Big Score was busy but fluid. Into the Wild Green Yonder is the most seamless movie and feels more like it was always intended to be a feature-length movie rather than be broken into several episodes.
The characterization in this movie is very strong, our heroes act like themselves without being flat or one dimensional like I felt they were in Bender's Game. Happily our characters aren't overly predictable and aren't stuck throwing out recycled gags.
The animation, as always, is incredible. Colors are vibrant, 3D animation is well blended and just plain cool, and there are many visual treats to be had. This is one of the reasons I loved watching Futurama so much during its original television run. There is plenty of freeze-frame fun for fans (whoa, 5 f's!) but not much in the secret jokes or science/math references department. The movie looks stunning on Blu-ray in widescreen, I highly recommend it over the regular DVD! The audio is in 5.1 surround and fits the movie well. The Sinatra-esqe song at the beginning is performed by Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy fame and has a nice bit of the Futurama theme thrown in. The rest of the musical score works just fine for the movie, I just wish it was a full orchestral one like we got in the TV broadcast days. Oh well.
Both the DVD and Blu-ray are packed with lots of extra features:
* As with all previous Futurama DVD releases, there is an audio commentary track for the whole movie on which members of the Futurama crew including creator Matt Groening and executive producer David X. Cohen give background information while having a good time. (The Blu-ray includes the commentary with video overlays.)
* Other random goodies include a funny Behind the Scenes with Amy's voice and jack-of-all-trades Lauren Tom
* An animatic of the first 22 minutes
* Guides on how to draw Futurama characters
* Five deleted scenes
* 3D models with discussion by the designers
* Zapp Brannigan's guide on "how to make love at a woman"
* Bender's cinema etiquette
* A "toilet paper" animation
* And a short featurette with Penn Jillette, Matt Groening and David X. Cohen in "space".
Very good amount of extras in my opinion. The other unique feature to the Blu-ray would be the more fluid menu design.
So in closing, I am very happy with Into the Wild Green Yonder as far as the movie itself and the Blu-ray. After getting worried about, what I feel to be a mediocre performance in Billion Backs and Bender's Game, I am glad to see movie #4 pack in a lot of the elements that made the series what it was. Great voice acting, fun story, geeky references (anyone spot the Botany Bay?), and fantastic animation. If you've ever liked ANY part of any episode of Futurama this is a sure-fire addition to your movie collection.