Friday, December 5, 2008

Futurama: Bender’s Game ain’t no Orson Scott Card

That probably sounds more insulting than I intended it. I like Orson Scott Card, to a point. Speaker for the Dead is one of the greatest books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. But the sci-fi classic Ender’s Game is still considered his magnum opus, and it was this title that the Futurama folks decided to parody when they made their third installment in the four-part film series.

Bender’s Game is sort of like Ender’s Game in the sense that people playing a game are actually doing things in real life. Sort of. But in reality it’s a Dungeons and Dragons/Lord of the Rings parody, which would have been a lot more relevant five years ago.

The plot revolves around fuel and fuel demand: dark matter, the substance that keeps ships running in the Futurama universe, is being controlled by Mom’s evil corporation and Farnsworth has a plan to stop her. Meanwhile, Bender is deep into Dungeons and Dragons, to the point where he must seek psychiatric help. It’s all about as exciting as it sounds.

It has the usual chuckles of any Futurama episode, but when compared to the previous movies, especially The Beast with a Billion Backs, it’s kind of…dull. I’m also not entirely sure what point it’s trying to make. You might think cartoons don’t need a point, but Futurama usually has one, and Bender’s Game feels out of place in this regard.

I give this one a 6/10.