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DVD Review: Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs

Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs is the second straight-to-DVD Futurama movie, with the first being Bender's Big Score. The first film, although not exceptional by any stretch of the imagination, still had kind of a cool storyline involving time travel and showing a new side of that loveable dope of a main character, Fry, in which we learn how much he truly does love Leela, the first woman he met when originally awaking from cryostatis. This new film, Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs, picks up right after the events of the first, where we find Fry in love with a new woman, Colleen. This just didn't sit right with me coming fresh off the heels of watching the first film, but if that were the only thing that felt wrong with this movie I'm sure I could probably have looked past it. Unfortunately, it wasn't.

The main plot of this film deals with a mysterious rift in space that has appeared over the planet Earth. Although it doesn't actually seem to be doing anything but sitting there, everyone is afraid of it, and so an expedition is planned to go study it. Professor Farnsworth and his long-time rival Doctor Wernstrom battle for the rights to study the rift, even though both believe that studying it could very possibly lead to their destruction. I guess that was supposed to be funny, but really I just didn't understand it. And why couldn't they both go study it? Seems like for no other reason than they needed to fill time in the movie and decided to do so by having the two rival teams face off against each other.

Anyway, it's at this point that we learn along with Fry that his new woman is a polygamist, meaning she has many boyfriends. So the whole rift story takes a back seat while we follow Fry and watch him try to adjust to this new revelation. The whole situation is much more uncomfortable than it is funny, and I really feel bad for Fry. By this point it's really not clear where the story is going. I'm assuming that a monster is going to come through the rift at some point, only because the name of the DVD is The Beast with a Billion Backs with a cover that shows purple tentacles coming through what appears to be a rift in the sky.

And while I'm on that subject, what the heck does that title mean anyway? A Billion Backs? Shouldn't it be A Billion Tentacles. I thought that after I'd finished watching the movie it would make more sense, but it really doesn't. I still don't know what a billion backs has anything to do with anything. A billion tentacles came through the rift, and when we see the creature it is extremely big, but I never witnessed multiple backs. The tentacles eventually are attached to the back of people's necks... is that what they were trying to get at? I just don't know.

Okay, so eventually the rift is studied and Fry, who is in an extreme amount of emotional pain, decides to head into the rift. He soon returns, however, with a tentacle stuck to his neck. He tells everyone how great the tentacle is and tells everyone to trust in the tentacle. At first it seems like the tentacles do want to give people a choice, but soon it just seems as if they will attach to whomever they want. And if that's the case, then why did they need to waste time initially trying to convince people the tentacles were good? Another one of the things in this film I just didn't get.

Now, while all this has been going on, there is also another subplot involving Bender, who is probably the funniest character of the show. Unfortunately, his subplot is rather dull, setting him in an exclusive all-robot club that hates humans. One of the things that makes Bender so funny is his attitude and actions toward humans... so why would they stick him in a plot with hardly any human interaction? Doesn't seem too smart to me. And it also turned out to be not very funny. Go figure. I don't think my wife ever even made it to his subplot, as she was asleep before we reached the 30 minute mark, and it's no surprise why. I mildly enjoyed the half-hour episodes that came on each week, but this movie was just boring pretty much all the way through.

Some movies based on TV shows don't feel like real feature length films, they feel more like a long episode of the show, or several episodes stuck together. This movie feels like none of the above. It feels like a confused mess of ideas that don't progress to anywhere significant, and I didn't even mention the other subplot about Amy and Kiff which involves yet another of the many things that I did not understand (though I won't say what as I don't want to spoil it for those of you who are actually going to watch this thing). More importantly, this film lacks comedy. There are very few gags that work, which leaves little to capture one's interest. I sure hope the next two straight-to-DVD movies are a whole lot better than this one.

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