There are numerous instances of sci-fi technology and magic coming together -- from the Star Wars movies to the Shadowrun rpg -- but few are as goofy as Futurama: Bender's Game. This straight-to-dvd movie, the penultimate entry in the Futurama saga, plays around with the conventions of medieval fantasy.

This movie has the Planet Express crew (voiced by the usual Futurama actors) dealing with a dark matter fuel shortage caused by the villainous Mom. At the same time, the robot Bender finds his imagination, becomes obsessed with playing Dungeons and Dragons, and winds up insane and unable to tell the difference between reality and D&D.

These storylines come together, oddly enough, when the 12-sided die used in the D&D game is the key to breaking the fuel shortage. Further, Fry and Leela somehow get sucked into a parallel world where Bender's fantasy seems to have come true: Bender is now the knight Titanius Anglesmith, the Professor is a magic user, Leela has become the cyclops-centaur Leegola, Amy is the water nymph (and nympho) Gynacaladriel, Zoidberg is a giant monster, Hermes is the androgymous centaur Hermaphrodite, and Fry becomes Frydo, obsessed with the magic 12-sider. Oh, and Mom is now the villainous Momon.

Bender's Game is much like the first straight-to-dvd Futurama movie Bender's Big Game in that it feels like a few episodes of the series stitched together. There are a good number of chuckles throughout, poking fun at both gamers and fantasy films, but the two plots feel stitched together instead of working well with each other. And I thought the end was a bit weak.

Bender's Game isn't an instant classic, but fans of gaming and the Futurama show will enjoy it. Early next year the final entry in the Futurama saga, Into the Wild Green Yonder, will be released. I'm curious to see how it ends -- and if anything that happened in Bender's Game will carry over and affect that movie.

Overall grade: B

Reviewed by James Lynch

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