Plot: What’s it about?
The cost of fuel has skyrocketed, but no one knows why dark matter has become so rare. After all, Nibbler’s litter box is usually laden with the stuff. But Mom’s dark matter company keeps a tight stranglehold on their dark matter mine, which supplies almost all of the galaxy’s needs. Professor Farnsworth has had enough however, he knows how to even the score with Mom from an old grudge and eliminate the dark matter demand, all in one fell swoop. As the group of Farnsworth’s employees head off to take Mom down a peg, Bender finds himself addicted to the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Will dark matter continue to drain the pockets of everyone or will Farnsworth’s plan work? And when things take a totally unexpected turn, can Bender prove himself noble and lead the charge toward a better tomorrow?
I was sad to see Futurama canceled, but I was pleased when Fox announced a series of new movies, which would then be turned into episodes for broadcast. I’ve seen the Futurama movies to this point and I have to say, Bender’s Game has the most fun of the lot thus far. The “hey we’re back” tone is gone and the writers seem to have settled in more, which yields more consistent laughs and better plot devices. Bender’s Game is like two halves, the first is like most Futurama storylines, while the second half takes us in a whole new direction. The material could have tanked in the second half, but the writers walked the line well and made sure things stayed in place. If you’re a fan of Futurama, you will have a blast with Bender’s Game and I just hope Fox decides to add more of these projects to their schedule. As far as Blu-ray vs. DVD, this version looks & sounds better, so if you want the best, you’ll need to go with Blu-ray.
Video: How does it look?
Bender’s Game is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a beautiful transfer, with rich colors and a razor sharp image, just fantastic. I noticed some minor banding issues, but they were infrequent and weren’t a distraction. As I said, the colors are magnificent here, such bold and vivid hues, you’ll get lost at times just soaking it all in. The black levels are dead on as well, while detail is as impressive as the animation allows. I was just dazzled by the visuals here, so despite a couple very minor issues, I am giving this transfer the full five stars.
Audio: How does it sound?
This DTS HD 5.1 option is quite good, with more presence than I expected. After all, this is an animated television series, so I didn’t anticipate much beyond the basics. But this mix has ample kick, so when the material calls for some oomph, it arrives and then some. The bass is deep and the surrounds remain quite active, so quite a memorable presentation. I wouldn’t compare the power to action movies, but for this kind of material, this soundtrack is impressive. The music also sounds great, while dialogue is crystal clear and never wavers. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
An audio commentary unites Matt Groening with numerous cast & crew members, who give the usual kind of session from these folks. That means ample obscure references, tangents, and self praise galore. Not a bad track, but it isn’t as enjoyable as I expected. You can also enable a video commentary option, which allows you to see the folks involved, instead of just hearing them flap off. This disc also includes several brief featurettes, an animatic storyboard, Bender’s message on piracy, and a game where you can combine the characters to create new ones.