DVD: The Beast with a Billion Backs
Sure, keep reading if you want to get a face full of how awesome the latest, direct to DVD, Futurama movie is, but do so with the complete knowledge that I’m an utter Futurama whore. But lets also be clear about this, I’m a Futurama whore not only because these guys consistently deliver bucket loads of great natured fun, but because they are probably the most ridiculously generous bunch of people — when it comes to DVD extras — that I can think of.
Of all the Futurama to have graced our television screens over the years, The Beast with a Billion Backs is probably the strangest of all the tales that the show has presented. To quote TFM’s Furious McNeverpost, “It’s weird, even by Futurama standards!” and for once, he’s right.
The only real carry-over from the conclusion of the last Futurama film, Bender’s Big Score, is that a giant dimensional rip exists in space, about a giant tentacle monster’s reach from Earth. For the most part though, life is as normal as it usually is in the Futurama universe, which is to say, not very. Fry has met and fallen in love with Colleen (Brittany Murphy), however he breaks off their relationship and falls into a deep depression when he finds that he can’t come to terms with Colleen’s polyamorous lifestyle.
Meanwhile Professor Farnsworth’s expedition to the dimensional rip reveals that nothing inorganic may pass through the opening, meaning that no robots — or their shiny metal asses — are able to explore beyond its aperture. With Professor Farnsworth’s mission deemed a failure, Zapp Brannigan sets out to launch an attack on the anomaly. However, as to be expected, Brannigan fails to achieve whatever the hell it is you intent to achieve when you launch an attack on a gigantic rip in the fabric of space.
His depression and loneliness having gotten the better of him, Fry, who had stowed-away on the Nimbus (Zapp’s ship), launches himself into the rip… and that’s when things start to get really weird.
As I said earlier, The Beast with a Billion Backs is probably the strangest story we’ve seen from the Futurama creators, but that’s not to say it isn’t great fun to watch. As with the previous film, the intention is to split this movie into four episodes which, along with the other movies in this series, will make up the next season of Futurama. Like Bender’s Big Score before it, The Beast with a Billion Backs is hindered by the ultimate intention of the story and as a result does feel a little patchy in places. And, if’ I’m being completely honest, this is on the whole a weaker effort than Bender’s Big Score. But far be it from me to complain, even at it’s worst Futurama kicks the ever-loving-snot out of most of the stuff polluting the air-waves these days.
Even if you are disappointed with the feature presentation on this DVD, the gang have once again provided extras which themselves are far more entertaining than the title releases of many other discs. Matt Groening (creator/developer/executive producer), David X. Cohen (developer/executive producer), Billy West (Zapp Brannigan, Fry, Zoidberg, Prof. Farnsworth), John DiMaggio (Bender), Maurice LaMarche (Kif, Calculon, Morbo, Hedonismbot), Michael Rowe (co-executive producer), Claudia Katz (producer), Peter Avanzino (director) and Lee Supercinski (producer) pile into a recording booth to provide what isn’t so much a commentary track, as it is an invitation to hear what happens when you get a bunch of sharp, silly, creative people into a recording booth and have them watch, and talk about, Futurama.
The commentary on the main feature and the one presented by Groening, Cohen, West, DiMaggio, LaMarche, Rowe, Supercinski and J. Stewart Burns (writer/producer) on another great extra — the ‘long-lost’ Futurama episode — are always entertaining, but never more so when the conversation finds itself in a place where they’re simply entertaining themselves.
Storyboards, Featurettes, and Deleted scenes round out the arsenal of extras and yet all of this just leaves me wanting more. Unfortunately Bender’s Game, the third of the four planned movies, wont be landing for quite some time yet, but The Beast with a Billion backs lands on Aussie shelves on the 6th of August and that’s good news everyone! [source]