DVD Review: The Beast With a Billion Backs
The spoilers are a lie
Futurama is back for a second instalment of their direct-to-DVD movies, the first was last years’ Bender’s Big Score. Taking cues from their more dramatic episodes of the television series, the writers have crafted a story about love and loss without too many character compromises. The story may be a little more heavy than usual, but there are laughs throughout.
We join this story already in progress, a rip space-time has opened and the planet express crew has won the exploration rights, through the scientifically approved method of Death Ball. Meanwhile, Fry and his girlfriend move in together, but he is disappointed with the living arrangements. Having lost Fry as a roommate, Bender pines for social acceptance and joins a club for robots. Amy and Kif’s relationship gets knocked up a notch when he proposes.
The film is laden with great voice acting from new comers like David Cross, Brittany Murphy and Steven Hawking, as well as veterans like Maurice LaMarche, Dan Castellaneta and Phil LaMarr. The complete regular cast is back and are still comfortable in their characters.
According the hive-mind of the The Infosphere, the title, The Beast with a Billion Backs (BBB), is a reference to a passage from Othello: “I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs”, as well as being a send up to a 1950s sci-fi horror film The Beast with a Million Eyes.
In the same way none of the episodes of the television show really follow each other, neither do these films. Though the first film left and excellent little avenue to bridge the gap, they opted to go back to pre-film storylines.
The trend for all these tv-shows-come-feature-length-projects is to include several stories with varying degrees of coherence to the main plot line and BBB is no exception. There are four or five (depending how you parse) subplots that bring some depth to the story, again with varying success.
I would argue that the Futurama formula, which is much more character and story based could easily succeed in extending the plot lines to feature length with little or no losses, where a weaker formula would fail (e.g. Family Guy movies). But the length does seem to hinder many of the jokes and feels pretty forced at times.
I was and still am a big fan of the series, so this was right up my alley. The film has plenty of gags, but it’s a love story so it’s not really balls to the wall funny. It has also been tailored to a sci-fi enthusiast crowd and existing fans of the series.
Sources: The Infosphere