I'm the target audience for Bender's Game. A lifelong gamer of over two decades (yeeck, I'm getting old), I also know and love the book by Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game. With the title alone, the Futurama writing staff is clearly letting me know this is the movie for me.
Bender's Game starts promising, with jokes about the rising cost of fuel prices. There's also a sly joke about Leela's anger issues, which are controlled by a shock collar. A shock collar Leela starts to find ... titillating. Just when things get interesting and this plot point could turn into something awkward and funny, it's dropped.
Bender discovers that he has no imagination and, aggravated that he can't participate in a game of Dungeons & Dragons, flips out Mazes & Monsters-style, renaming himself Titanius and wandering the sewers. He then gets sent to the HAL institute, Arkham Asylum for robots. This plot point is pursued to a point and then dropped.
Meanwhile, Mom (that's her name) has been controlling dark matter prices for years, but there is a means of invalidating her stranglehold on fuel prices. Professor Farnsworth accidentally invented "anti-backwards matter" which, should it ever encounter dark matter, would render dark matter useless. It just so happens that this anti-backwards matter is a 12-sided die. Hilarious, right?
As our lovable misfits build towards a confrontation with Mom and her Killbot goons, reality shifts and suddenly everyone's in a parallel fantasy dimension. And then we get, in descending order of comedic value: D&D jokes, Greek myth jokes, Lord of the Rings jokes, Star Wars jokes, Call of Cthulhu jokes, and did I mention the Lord of the Rings jokes?
There's actually more interesting material on the extras, covering all the allusions to D&D that have appeared in Futurama and confirming that the guys who write the show are hopeless geeks themselves. Unfortunately, they're not really boosting their own geek cred with this movie.
Look, I love Futurama and I love D&D. But this movie is all over the place, using tired, easy jokes for fantasy. I always identified Futurama as a series of in-jokes for sci-fi and tech geeks, which is a much broader category than fantasy gamers. The bizarre diversion into the fantasy realm isn't well thought out, isn't particularly funny, and not all that interesting.
Sorry guys. This is one D&D adventure that doesn't give out nearly as much XP as it should.