Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder Movie Review

Bringing back Matt Groening and David X. Cohen's brilliant animated epic Futurama in the form of DVD movies has presented a logistical challenge for the creative minds behind the original TV series: a quartet of movies cover roughly the same amount of space as a season of television, yet tell stories of a completely different size and shape. Though all of the movies have been by turns hilarious and accomplished, and often more than that, they've also felt a bit like two or three episodes stretched and staggered and blended into each other.

Into the Wild Green Yonder, the final-for-now Futurama DVD movie, comes closest to realizing the near-infinite potential of Groening's intricate and inventive world on a narrative level. It begins with a familiar yet, as before, somewhat dissonant approach to a feature-length rhythm: The first 20 minutes, featuring Bender the robot running afoul of the robot mafia in the newly renovated Mars Vegas, more closely resemble a stand-alone episode than just about anything else from the other DVDs.

But once the central story gets moving, Yonder feels more streamlined and propulsive than its predecessors. Oddly, this is achieved by separating the three primary characters: affable loser Fry gains a mysterious mind-reading power, which threatens to drive him crazy, which in turn brings him into the Legion of Mad Fellows, who need his help to save the universe from an unseen figure known as the Dark One; Leela, meanwhile, seeks to save that same universe from over-development by joining up with eco-feminists; and Bender spends some time working against said eco-feminists, mainly in defense of his record for longest rap-sheet in the galaxy.

Bender is joined by cocksure commander Zapp Brannigan; the environmental hazards are led by Leo Wong, father of perpetual Planet Express intern Amy; and the Legion of Mad Fellows (not to be confused with the League of Robots, as seen in The Beast with a Billion Backs), which has some members who may look familiar to long-time and eagle-eyed fans of the original series. The Futurama movies have reveled in the interconnected world, and to the extent that Into the Wild Green Yonder offers closure, it can be seen in the creators' desire to spread their jokes throughout a galaxy of bit players (one shot late in the film tries to cram in every recurring character possible, like one of those Simpsons dorm-room posters).

None of this comes at the expense of Fry, whose journey from New Year's Eve 1999 to the futuristic early 3000s has remained the heart of Futurama long after the fish-out-of-water premise faded. Though this installment has, if anything, even more gags based in heartless violence (a headless Spiro Agnew -- attaché to President of Earth Richard Nixon! -- gets a particularly gruesome workout), Groening's characters (or at least his main ones) aren't meaningless cardboard punch-outs in the style of Family Guy. Fry, for all of his buffoonery, struggles to do the right thing and find meaning in a thankless and often cruel universe.

If this indeed proves to be the final frontier, Into the Wild Green Yonder wraps things up beautifully, with a little more heft than the jokier Bender's Game and more story than the wandering (and frequently thought-provoking) Beast with a Billion Backs. Having disappeared and reappeared consistently over its 10 years of existence, Futurama has become adept at providing semi-endings, and here offers a particularly good one, with the Planet Express crew well-positioned either to ride off into the sunset or embark immediately upon further and possibly syndicated adventures. If the quality level stays this high, I'll take Futurama in any shape or size.

Cast & Crew

Director : Peter Avanzino

Producer : Claudia Katz, Lee Supercinski


Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: NR, 2009


Editors Recommendations

Horns - Trailer

Following the mysterious death of his girlfriend, Merrin Williams (Juno Temple), Ig Perrish (Daniel Redcliffe) wakes up from with a...

Horns Trailer

'Foxcatcher' Leads Almost Went To Ryan Gosling and Bill Nighy

Foxcatcher, the psychological drama from the supremely talented Bennett Miller, is without doubt one...

'Foxcatcher' Leads Almost Went To Ryan Gosling and Bill Nighy

Barbra Streisand - The Way We Were with Lionel Richie

Ahead of the September 2014 release of Barbra Streisand's duet album 'Partners', Lionel Richie talks about the...

Barbra Streisand - The Way We Were With Lionel Richie Video

'The November Man' Is Nothing More Than An August Dud

The November Man? Pfffft - Roger Donaldson's latest movie deserves to be nowhere near the penultimate...

'The November Man' Is Nothing More Than An August Dud

Kongos - Lunatic Album Review

Bursting out the stereo with the glitzy stomp of opening salvo 'I'm Only Joking' and 'Come With Me Now', Kongos at first appear to be...

Kongos - Lunatic Album Review

Ariana Grande - Break Free - Live on the Honda Stage at the iHeartRadio Theater LA

Ariana Grande performs the song, 'Break Free' live at the Honda Stage at the iHeartRadio Theatre...

Ariana Grande - Break Free - Live On The Honda Stage At The Iheartradio Theater La Video

Jack White - I'm Down (Lyric Video)

The lyric video for Jack White's country music song, 'I'm Down' has received a lyric video. The song has been recorded as part of...

Jack White - I'm Down (Lyric Video) Video

Frasier's 'Niles Crane' Joins Cast of CBS Drama 'The Good Wife'

In his first television role since the conclusion of Frasier in 2004, David Hyde Pierce - who...

Frasier's 'Niles Crane' Joins Cast of CBS Drama 'The Good Wife'

Joan Rivers Stable But Critical, Stopped Breathing During Surgery

Joan Rivers, the 81-year-old comedienne, is in a stable but critical condition in hospital...

Joan Rivers Stable But Critical, Stopped Breathing During Surgery