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DVD Review

The Beast with a Billion Backs


Starring (voice): Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Phil LaMarr and Lauren Tom
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 12
Available 30 June 2008

In Futurama’s latest and most tentacle-packed epic, space itself rips open, revealing a gateway to another universe. But what lies beyond? Horror? Love? Or maybe both, if it happens to contain a repulsive, planet-sized monster with romantic intentions. Nothing less than the fate of human and robot-kind is at stake as the Futurama crew takes on the beast with a billion backs...

The Beast with a Billion Backs is the second of four feature length Futurama adventures. The action picks up six months after the events that unfolded in Bender's Big Score. Bender, Fry, Leela and the rest of the Planet Express crew encounter a repulsive, planet-sized creature with billions of probing tentacles... and soon find themselves involved in a disturbing - yet sensuous - interplanetary love story. Meanwhile Bender goes in search of the League of Robots, a secret organisation that is legendary amongst his robot brethren. There's also a marriage, a death and someone becomes the leader of a new religion!

After the better than expected Bender's Big Score, The Beast with a Billion Backs is a little bit of a disappointment. The main plot is too long and seems to go nowhere, while the gags aren't as funny as we've come to expect. This plot would have worked better as a b-plot and feels a little too stretched to work as the main plot. Don't get me wrong. This is still a pretty entertaining adventure. It's just that it's not a patch on what it could have been.

After I bemoaned the fact that too many familiar characters were shoehorned into the last feature, this time around thankfully there are nowhere near as many appearances by characters that have appeared in the TV series. The absence of Hermes from any of the main plot is also very noticeable (he only pops up for the odd line every now and then) and, once again, Zoidberg is under used.

Guest stars this time include Stephen Hawking, Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, The Simpsons) and David Cross.

To be honest the extras are a little dull - there's nothing here that I would have voluntarily watched. We get an audio commentary with some of the cast and crew - the highlights of which include Billy West's rewinding answer machine impression; the fact that they nit-pick plenty of the plot strands, like why Fry is with a new girlfriend after the Leela/Fry romance story in Bender's Big Score; and the revelation that the Pocket Pal robot, that appeared briefly, was originally on the drawing board to be one of the regular characters in the TV series.

We also get Futurama: The Lost Adventure (30 min reworking of the XBox Futurama game video segments which have been edited into an episode. This also has an optional audio commentary with cast and crew); Storyboard Animatic (21 min 43 sec look at the rough animatic of the first 20 mins of the movie); Deleted Scenes (4 min); David Cross Featurette: Meet Yivo! (2 min chat with David Cross in the recording studio); Blooperama (2 min, 12 sec worth of outtakes from the cast recordings. Surprisingly not very entertaining - although you do get to see what the cast look like); 3D models with Animator Discussion (4 min, 11 sec look at the wire frame renderings and finished versions of some of the computer animated scenes, with commentary); A Brief History of Deathball (2 min look at the designs put forward for the Deathball game, with commentary); and Bender's Game (2 min look at the next Futurama feature length adventure). There's also at least one Easter Egg - but UK viewers probably won't understand it if they don't know what the Old Farmer's Almanac actually is.

This is still worth adding to your collection if you're a serious Futurama nut, like me, but those that can take or leave the show might like to give this one a miss. The next movie, Bender's Game, looks a lot more promising.


Darren Rea

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