Futurama: Bender’s Big Score appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The TV episodes always looked great, and this new program followed suit.
Sharpness seemed excellent. From start to finish, the flick offered terrific delineation, with a consistently concise and tight presentation. I noticed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement was absent. Source flaws also failed to materialize in this clean transfer.
Futurama used a bright palette that came across well. The colors were always lively and dynamic, with no issues on display. Blacks seemed deep and firm, while shadows were smooth and clear. I found a lot to like about this very positive presentation.
While not particularly impressive, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Bender’s Big Score was perfectly adequate. Actually, I must admit I hoped that this big “reunion” effort would broaden the standards from the original series, but the audio didn’t expand things to a substantial degree.
Not that the track was quite as laid back as those mixes. The film offered a good sense of environment and used a few action scenes to open up matters in a decent way. For instance, when the Nibblonians attacked, the ships zoomed around the room in a pleasing manner. Not a lot of these moments occurred, but they worked well when they did, and the general sense of setting satisfied.
Audio quality was always very good. Speech sounded natural and warm, with good intelligibility and no defects. Music was lively and dynamic, and effects fell into the same realm. Those elements appeared concise and accurate through the flick. Nothing here dazzled, but the track seemed positive.
Score comes with a pretty decent roster of extras. First we find an audio commentary with creator Matt Groening, director Dwayne Carey-Hill producer Claudia Katz, writers David X. Cohen and Ken Keeler and actors Billy West, John DiMaggio, and Phil LaMarr. All of them sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They discuss the return of Futurama, story and script issues, character development and the incorporation of new roles, animation topics and adapting for the widescreen format, some performance choices, musical selections, and a few other tidbits.
If you listened to the commentaries that came with the Futurama season sets, you’ll know what to expect from these. Cohen carries much of the load, but everyone chimes in along the way. The actors don’t tell us a lot about their work, but they add fun with different voices and gags. We learn a reasonable amount about Score in this generally enjoyable chat.
After this we get ”Futurama Returns!” Live Comic Book Reading. The eight-minute and 50-second clip shows pages of a special “we’re back!” Futurama comic book accompanied by a live vocal performance by the cast members at Comic-Con. It’s fun to hear and quite entertaining, though some times the onscreen pages lag behind the audio.
A full episode of Everybody Loves Hypnotoad runs 22 minutes. This consists almost entirely of the same static shot of the Hypnotoad accompanied by his signature hypnotic electronic sound. A few fun bits crop up along the way, but the episode stays true to what we expect from the Hypnotoad. It’s a one-joke premise, but I admire that the producers carried it through as they should.
For a look at some cut sequences, we find Deleted Storyboard Scenes. We get three of these “Monte Carlo” (1:23), “Robot Mafia” (0:32) and “Limbo Contest” (1:41). These present filmed storyreels accompanied by dialogue and some effects. “Carlo” shows another attempt by Bender to find and kill Fry, while “Mafia” lets us see the mobsters as they intimidate Tiny Timbot. “Limbo” allows Hermes to challenge Barbados Slim. “Carlo” is entertaining and would’ve been a good addition to the film, but the other two aren’t as interesting. They’re still fun to see, though.
An Internet promo for An Inconvenient Truth, A Terrifying Message from Al Gore runs one minute, 23 seconds. The animated promo shows the former VP and Bender as we get a warning about global warning. It’s amusing to see Gore joust with our favorite robot.
We can watch the snippet with or without commentary from Gore, Groening and Cohen. We learn a little about how they recorded Gore’s dialogue and some thoughts about how to combat global warming. While I can’t say the commentary adds much, it’s short enough to merit a listen.
Something unusual comes via a math lecture called Bite My Shiny Metal X. This 26-minute and four-second piece shows Dr. Sarah Greenwald as she lectures the Futurama staff about the use of mathematical concepts in the series. Is it as nerdy and dull as it sounds? Yes – yes, it is. It’s fun to see some of the folks who make the series, especially since most of them look just as dorky as you’d expect. But the chat itself is a bore unless you’re a math geek.
72 seconds of 3D Models/3D Turnarounds come next. These simply offer full-dimensional views of various ships seen in the flick. It’s mildly interesting as a way to get a better look at the designs.
To check out the original screenplay, we go to the First Draft of the Script. We can examine the whole text here and notice the differences between it and the final film. I always enjoy extras like this and think it’s a cool addition.
More art arrives via New Character/Design Sketches. 25 screens of drawings show up here, and they let us take a good look at various folks and elements new to the movie. It’s more interesting than the “Turnarounds”.
Finally, we get an Original Comic-Con Promo. The four-minute and 56-second clip simply compiles snippets from Score, so it’s not particularly useful as anything other than a curiosity for completists.
Futurama’s back, baby, and Bender’s Big Score acts as a good reintroduction. While the movie doesn’t equal the series’ best episodes, it does present a lot of amusement and it usually does well for itself. The DVD offers excellent visuals as well as pretty good audio and some fun extras. Futurama fans will definitely want to grab a copy of this entertaining adventure.