Review: ‘Futurama: The Beast With a Billion Backs’

After being cancelled in 2003, FOX's animated sitcom "Futurama" continues its resurrection with another feature-length straight-to-DVD winner, "The Beast With a Billion Backs," following in the footsteps of last year's "Bender's Big Score."

After being cancelled in 2003, FOX’s animated sitcom “Futurama” continues its resurrection with another feature-length straight-to-DVD winner, “The Beast With a Billion Backs,” following in the footsteps of last year’s “Bender’s Big Score.”

While “Beast” can’t quite match its predecessor’s humor or heart, it’s still a fast-moving sci-fi ride with plenty of laughs and some fun extras.

After exploring an outer space anomaly (the rip in the heavens created at the end of “Bender’s Big Score”), the Planet Express crew (led by slacker Fry, one-eyed hottie Leela and surly robot Bender) unleash an amorous alien (voiced by David Cross) that attaches itself to every man, woman and child on Earth using elaborate, globe-spanning tentacles. Hilarity ensues.

The joy of Matt Groening and David X. Cohen’s comic creation is that it works on a purely comic level, much like Groening’s ” The Simpsons,” while also serving as a worthy offering of modern science fiction.

DVD extras include some mildly amusing deleted material. Best of all is delightfully overstuffed commentary that features Groening, Cohen, co-writer Eric Kaplan and cast members Maurice LaMarche, Billy West and John DiMaggio. Between Nixon impressions and Monkees jokes, the gang reveals some hilarious and interesting factoids. However, the group often over-explains the film’s many references, even confusing their own tribute to Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” (or is that “She’s Gotta Have It”?).

On the lame side is a so-called “lost episode,” which is really just the cut scenes from the 2003 video game edited to form a coherent — if not very funny — storyline. It’s fun to see Fry and the gang rendered in 3-D, but the novelty wears off after a few minutes. The commentary by the episode’s creators is less screwball and more technical that the feature’s audio track.

Fans can expect at least two more ‘Futurama’ DVD features in the near future.

Futurama: The Beast With a Billion Backs

Release Date: June 24, 2008

Production

20th Century Fox

Crew

AC-3, Color, Dolby, Widescreen. Running time: 89 minutes

Cast

Cast: Billy West, Pamela Segal, John DiMaggio, Brittany Murphy, Maurice LaMarche, David Cross

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