A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder

June 24, 2010

Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder

This movie, more than the other three Futurama movies, has the strong feel of an extra long episode. No time travel or D&D here – just a strange series of events that happen to the Planet Express crew. It’s got a fairly epic feel, with a clash of ancient races as old as the universe itself and Fry being the only hope of the universe, but we’ve seen that on the show too, twice! So it doesn’t really do anything new, but what it does do is done well, and although I didn’t enjoy it as much as Bender’s Game and Bender’s Big Score I did enjoy it.

The story goes thusly: in the year 3008 Leo Wong (Amy’s multi-gazillionaire father and owner of most of Mars) destroys Mars Vegas to erect an even more glitzy and ostentatious New Mars Vegas. In the process he eradicates all but one of the endangered martian muck leeches, arousing the ire of Leela and of a group of Feminista environmentalists. When the necklace of one of the feministas (Frida Waterfall – part of a running gag from the series with a vast Waterfall family all played by Phil Hendrie) gets lodged in Fry’s head he gains the power to read thoughts. He almost goes insane from the pressure of all the unprotected thoughts around him, but is rescued by a homeless man named Hutch who provides him with a tinfoil hat and eventually introduces him to the Legion of Madfellows – a secret society of people who can read thoughts and wear tinfoil hats.

The Madfellows spout a whole lot of plot exposition at Fry. It seems that there is an ancient and never-ending cosmic battle between two forces known as the Dark Ones and the Encyclopods. The Dark Ones are the ultimate evolutionary achievement and desire to destroy all other life in the universe, and the Encyclopods have incorporated into their very being the DNA of every extinct species. Fry must find a way to stop Leo Wong from destroying the egg of the last Encyclopod – which is actually a violet dwarf star. Only Fry can stop the Dark Ones because only his defective brain cannot be read (as established when he twice defeated the invading brain aliens in the show.)

That’s the basic plot right there. There’s a whole lot of padding, of course, because that’s not nearly enough to fill a movie. There’s a lengthy bit in New Mars Vegas where Fry and Bender enter a poker tournament. Bender has a fling with the Robot Don’s moll. Leela and Amy (and eventually just about every female character from the show) join with the feministas to attempt to stop Wong and protect the environment. A lot of stuff happens like chases through space and giant miniature golf. The headless corpse of Spiro Agnew gets needlessly and brutally killed.

And since this was the last movie planned for release, and since it wasn’t known if there would ever be any more Futurama after this, the writers also shoehorned in a plot that tries to bring Fry and Leela together at the end. Which doesn’t work nearly as well as the touching end to the original series in The Devil’s Hands Are Idle Playthings. Indeed, that’s the problem this movie has almost throughout. It does some things that are clever, like finally giving some lines to the number 9 man who was seen in background crowds throughout the series and bringing back the recurring Waterfall characters, but most of the best bits of the movie were done better in the series. Fry and Leela’s reconciliation was better in the show and in the first movie. Fry’s “special brain” was best used in The Why of Fry. The Wong family was more fun to watch in Where the Buggalow Roam. In many ways this movie is less a graceful swan song than a warmed over rehash of best bits from the show.

Furthermore the environmentalist and science nerd in me takes exception to the depiction of rabid environmentalists in this movie. And, really, if you think about it the notion of preserving the DNA of every extinct species ever is an odd device. Maybe it’s pedantic of me, but my brain immediately wonders if the Encyclopods preserve every evolutionary dead end as well. Evolution, as I understand it, involves the constant introduction of new ways to build life. Most of these new things don’t fill a need for whatever species or provide an environmental advantage and so they don’t result in new species – but they can sometimes be carried on for generations before they fade from existence. Do these abnormalities get preserved? What about freakish mutations that don’t even result in viable mating stock or die before maturing? Do they deserve preservation? I guess its an idea that gets me thinking, and I like those, but ultimately it doesn’t work for me.

Still – I will never say no to new Futurama. I’m really hoping that the new series, which premiers in about half an hour from when I’m writing this review, will offer David X Cohen and all his nerdy buddies a chance to add new life to the franchise. Hopefully there are new epic reveals to be had and new strangeness and wonder ahead. I just think that in general Futurama lends itself more to the shorter half-hour format. Time will tell if I am right.


June 24, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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