" Because it’s a great book doesn’t mean you have to like it "
— John Sealy, Stone Reader

MRQE Top Critic

Winsor McCay -- The Master Edition

A new DVD offers an opportunity to see films by a master of animation —Andrea Birgers (DVD review...)

Gertie the Dinosaur, born of Winsor McCay

Sponsored links

Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder is the fourth, and possibly final, straight-to-DVD project for the series. It’s heavy on plot, but also heavy on jokes. If this is indeed the end of Futurama, it’s an ending that should satisfy fans. The bonus features on the DVD are mostly entertaining and worth a look.

“Into the Breach, Meatbags”

Has plenty of moments worthy of the pause button
Has plenty of moments worthy of the pause button

Into the Wild Green Yonder opens in Mars Vegas, which gives the animators a good jumping-off point. The excess of Vegas isn’t good enough for the Wongs, land-magnate parents of Amy the Planet Express intern. They have an even grander plan which involves building a galaxy-sized miniature golf course.

The plot of this 90-minute movie is so thick that it defies easy summary. It features a poker tournament to end all poker tournaments, endangered species, radical eco-feminists, a secret society of homeless men who wear foil hats, the headless body of Spiro Agnew, and the bodyless heads of a star-studded Supreme Court.

To make up for the impenetrable story, there are plenty of jokes, both verbal and visual, that have always made the show fun to watch. From the slot machines at the beginning to the bleachers full of past guest stars, the movie has plenty of moments worthy of the pause button. If some of the subplots fizzle, at least it’s fun to see the familiar characters being themselves.

Into the Wild Green Yonder proves that the show works best in 22- minute episodes. While all four DVD movies have been solidly entertaining, the writers haven’t quite mastered the pace and rhythms of feature-length movies. On the other hand, these DVDs also prove that the folks behind the show still have plenty of good and funny ideas. Let’s hope they get a chance to do more.

DVD Extras

Anyone who has watched the previous DVDs will know what to expect. The lively commentary track has eight participants, including executive producer David X. Cohen and creator Matt Groening. Cohen points out references to previous episodes and translates the joke in the credits that uses the alien alphabet.

How We Make Futurama So Good is a five-minute bit of sillynness that give Lauren Tom (the voice of Amy) all of the credit for putting the show together. Other fun, and very short extras features, are two promotional spots starring Bender and Zap Branigan. “Louder! Louder!”: The Acting Technique of Penn Jillette is two minute trifle with a self-explanatory title.

Matt Groening and David X. Cohen in Space, follows the guys along with Matt’s son Will, on a ride in a zero-gravity airplane.

For animation fans, there are five deleted scenes, in different stages of completion. Storyboard Animatic, a feature on all four Futurama DVDs, has the first 22 minutes of the movie in storyboard form with the soundtrack. 3D Models with Animator Discussion is a four-minute dissection of the computer modeling used for the various space ships. How To Draw Futurama in 10 Very Difficult Steps, has demonstrations of animators drawing characters.

Picture and Sound

Picture and sound on the standard DVD are excellent, though some visual noise was apparent on the preview copy. The sound is Dolby Digital 5.1. The DVD has optional subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

How to Use this DVD

Check out the shorter bonus features, keeping an eye out for the Easter egg (the standard DVD has at least one). Save the commentary track for another viewing.