Futurama: Bender’s Game (DVD Review)26 Oct, 2008 By: John Latchem
$29.98 DVD, $39.98 Blu-ray
Voices of Billy West, John DiMaggio, Katey Sagal, Maurice LaMarche, Tress MacNeille, Rich Little.
The writers and producers of “Futurama” display an eerie prescience with Bender’s Game, the third direct-to-video follow-up to the TV series. Though it was written and animated months ago, the movie manages to fit right in with its Election Day street date, cracking jokes about energy costs, drilling in Alaska, and even putting lipstick on dogs.
Any political overtones are clearly unintentional. Instead, the gags fuel a nonsensical plot that transforms the show’s usual sci-fi setting into a fantasy framework that pays homage to the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. The movie is dedicated to late D&D co-creator Gary Gygax, who once guested on the show.
The premise is a riff on 1980s urban legends about kids going crazy playing D&D and wandering the sewers looking for treasure or turning to Satanism.
In a movie such as this, the story is almost irrelevant, as the creators throw gag after gag at the audience. With the fantasy setting, many of them lampoon “The Lord of the Rings.”
Fans are sure to love this installment, as the creators seem to have found a nice balance in crafting a 90-minute narrative that can be chopped into four distinct storylines. The disc includes the usual assortment of extras. The best one this time around is a tribute to Dungeons & Dragons from producer David X. Cohen and some of the show’s writers. Also good is a featurette in which the animators show viewers how to draw certain characters.
The disc also includes crowded commentary with several of the actors, producers and writers (available as a picture-in-picture extra on the Blu-ray version), and a brief preview of the next “Futurama” epic, Into the Wild Green Yonder, slated for release next year.