Sunday, October 21, 2012

ANI-MOVIES, *Wizards

Before James Cameron's Avatar, "master of animation" Ralph Bashki did his own take on science vs. nature. What was 20th Century Fox's very first full-length animated motion picture, Wizards proved to be a success in its own time, and a cult classic for decades to come.

Set in a post-apocalyptic Earth, humanity was killed off because of a nuclear war. The eldritch races then come out of hiding, including elves, fairies, and dwarves. During this revival of magic, two brother wizards fued over the control of power. The evil wizard Blackwolf takes over the land of Scortch where goblins and mutants dwell, while his peaceful brother Avatar protects the fairy realm of Montagar. Blackwolf plans to take over Montagar by sending robot assassins out to kill of its leaders. The robot Necron 99 terminates the fairy president, but is taken out by Avatar, who reprograms it to be "Peace", a reformed robot to lead them through to Scortch. Along on their quest comes the elf ranger Weehawk and the boobalicious fairy princess Elinore. Blackwolf has in turn dug up some old Nazi propaganda movies to motivate his troops and stun the opposing forces of elves and dwaves. After run-ins with Blackwolf's assassins and some pesky fairies, Team Avatar takes shelter with the dwarf army. However, Elinore is entranced by Blackwolf's evil and kills Peace. Avatar thinks that she has betrayed them, and gets all emo as he and Weehawk continue on their mission. They split up, where Weehawk learns of Elinore's enslavement and frees her, while Avatar confronts Blackwolf for the last time. Not to give away the ending, but Avatar's coup de grace on Blackwolf is just perfect! Anyway, the forces of good win, and Avatar shacks up with Elinore(lucky bastard!).

This was Bakshi's first fantasy movie, which lead into his directing the original animated Lord Of The Rings movie. Wizards also marked the beginning of his use of rotoscope which merges live-action footage with animation. This works sometimes during some of the battlefield scenes, but does get a little tedious at parts. Another way of getting around actually animating some parts was to include comic-like illustrations to narrate the story, including some by Marvel Comics artist Mike Ploog. Bakshi insists that this was a family film, although there is a good amount of gore, nudity, and sexual innuendo(not that I'm complaining!). Wizards sports some great character designs and backgrounds, even though they seem slightly Tolkien-based, which arguably went on to inspire the style used in the Elfquest comic book series which debuted about two years after this movie. I highly recommend this movie for those who want a look into early 70s animation, and for some great fantasy storytelling!

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