Into the Wide Green Yonder is the fourth and final Futurama movie to arrive on our small screens and it's also potentially the last new material we'll see from the show. During an environmental protest in a construction site on Mars a small piece of metal jewelery becomes embedded in Fry's skull, granting him the ability to read minds. Gradually he discovers he's the most important person in the universe (again) and that the fate of a new "green age" rests on the shoulders of his special mind.
Head into the Wide Green Yonder beyond the link... (Mostly spoiler free)
Wow, this is a really great movie. I had reservations about this one ending well because the others have been of somewhat mixed quality. But "ItWGY" is just fantastic. It hits the ground with some simply gorgeous sequences and never stops running. Even static captures of some establishing shots are breathtaking, but to see them in action. It's another level of beauty.
Futurama has always had superb animation mind you, but it seems that "Wide Green Yonder" has taken this and refined it to a whole new level, with extensive use of 3D animation which is completely seamless from it's 2D counterparts. The space chase sequence in particular takes 3D animation to new places and beats Futurama's previously best 3D chase sequence (The Near Death Star) by light years. Just take a look at this shot of the Nimbus (click for a larger version).
Also this shot of the Planet Express ship scanning is another great example of how great everything looks. You should see this one animated.
But, it's not just the 3D which has stepped up, the standard animation is completely gorgeous and lush to the eyes. Many scenes are lit with unusual light sources and have masses of detail to them, far more than most normal animated shows manage. Of particular note is the foil worn by Fry and the other members of the Legion of Mad Fellows, this foil hat is on Fry's head in various forms for almost the entire movie. It's a great looking object and it never drops in the amount of detail on it.
Ok so I've frothed a little about how pretty "Wide Green Yonder" is, but how about the important part? The storyline and dialog? Is that any good?
In a word, yes. Yes it is. The plot is tightly written and runs very well from scene to scene, it's not quite at the same level of brilliance Bender's Big Score was at. That one remains the best of the quadroligy by a long margin, but it's certainly a close second best. We also get to see the conclusion to one of the more amusing running jokes, the deaths of Freewater family. Each of which has been played by Phil Hendrie, the previous members of the family were eaten by Lrrr, eaten by rabid penguins and crushed by a giant robotic lobster.
The jokes in "Wide Green Yonder" come thick and fast, propelled by the dialog and the decision to use the funniest members of the supporting cast for a lot of it. Lrrr, Morbo, Nixon, Mr Wong, LaBarbara and the entire robot Mafia all make solid appearances. The main cast are all given a reasonable amount to do themselves, Zoidberg and Hermes are more solidly in the role of supporting characters and are a little underused. But that's always been the case with the show, they are supporting characters who occasionally get the limelight. There are also a few special guest stars who have some great moments, Seth MacFarlane sings the wonderful opening number and Snoop Dogg plays himself.
Into The Wide Green Yonder is a worthy addition to the series and also works very well as a final chapter because right now there's no certainty of any more Futurama beyond this. So the writers chose to give us an ending which is both satisfactory in itself and has the potential to continue beyond. Some people may feel a little annoyed at the cliffhanger ending the film provides, but I like the boundless optimism that the ending brings. I don't mind it when a show says, "We're over, but the characters do go on beyond the limits of our story".
Ultimately everyone, everything, everywhere ends; and if this is the final chapter for Futurama I will be more than satisfied with it. A great movie bringing a close to a great series. My only regret is that we won't see another 'Tales of Interest' anthology.
I will write more on this once the DVD release for Into The Wide Green Yonder is out.