Futurama: Bender's Game

Dwayne Carey-Hill

BY Keith CarmanPublished Oct 27, 2008

Maybe it’s the subject material that hits a little too close to home. Maybe it’s just that this particular feature-length film gave the writers something to sink their teeth into. Either way, Futurama: Bender’s Game is one of the franchise’s strongest additions to date. With this installment, the Planet Express Crew are frustrated at the increasing price of Dark Matter — the fuel that propels all ships in the year 3000. They embark on a mission to defraud the evil Mom Corporation and destroy her monopoly over fuel costs. As with every Futurama episode, this is only the catalyst for the true plot. After sneaking into her mine, the group accidentally stumble into an alternate universe, which is actually a giant game of Dungeons & Dragons. Each character then takes on a new D&D-esque role as this hilariously warped tale unfolds, revealing a centaur version of Leela, Bender as a knight, the Professor as a wizard and so on. In typical fashion, a vast array of inside jokes, oddball twists and non-sequiturs abound. Somehow, given the creators’ obvious diehard love of D&D — comparable only to Robot Chicken’s Star Wars crush — the insanity and ridiculousness are infinitely amusing, making Bender’s Game flow swiftly. As with its two precursor films, this straight-to-DVD addition to the series is overflowing with extra material ranging from one-off chuckles (a genetics lab where characters may be combined with amusing results, 3D computer models, a piracy warning from Bender, recording studio bloopers, a miniscule deleted scene and a storyboard animatic of the film’s first 20 minutes) to truly engaging pieces such as Matt Groening’s commentary and a featurette where writers discuss the influence of D&D on Futurama and learning how to draw characters. In keeping with the majority of the brand, Bender’s Game rarely falters; it’s at the top of its game.

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