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Wizards
DVD disk
Oct 7, 2004 By: Indiana Sev
Wizards order
Director:
Ralph Bakshi

Actors:
Bob Holt
Steve Gravers
Susan Tyrrell

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
An animated post-apocalyptic fantasy adventure featuring an old smart-ass sorcerer named Avatar, a brave elf, a dumb robot and a sexy half-fairy on a quest to a place called Scortch to kill off the maniacal mutant brother of Avatar’s before he takes over the planet with his Nazi-influenced band of beast and goblin warriors. Phew! In other words, it’s THE LORD OF THE RINGS minus Frodo and his gay buddy Sam Gamgee…
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I was ready to fight The Shootin’ Surgeon in a steel cage death match when I got wind that JoBlo received a fresh copy of WIZARDS in the mail and was on the lookout for a reviewer. I’ve been a long time devotee of director Ralph Bakshi and his groundbreaking and offbeat animation films. AMERICAN POP is one of my all-time favorite films and his FRITZ THE CAT, HEAVY TRAFFIC and THE LORD OF THE RINGS (1978) are also secret favorites of mine. COOL WORLD was awful but we we’re all entitled to a mistake or two in our lives. So, how would WIZARDS fare with me? Well, it earned itself a decent passing grade of 7. Bakshi mixes in everything in his little tale; including vintage footage of that nut Adolf Hitler, his speeches and Nazi gatherings, some beautiful still illustrations, rotoscoping animation (in which the animated character’s movements are traced from actual human movements) and actual real life sequences mostly featuring wartime tanks and smoky, cloudy skies. This experimentation with different styles and process’ made me fall in love with WIZARDS. Other things made me question my love affair...

The thing of it is, the movie, for the most part is silly. Avatar is no Gandalf the Grey or Blue or whatever. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but Avatar is way too goofy and wise-ass to take seriously in the kind of epic quest that he’s involved in. He really doesn’t care much and you can tell half the time all he’s thinking about is how he can nail Elinore (and nail her, he does), the overly sexy wannabe fairy that’s tagged along in their half-assed quest. The comedic elements are just way too frequent in the film and ultimately spoil the films greatest assets which are its commentary on society and war (in particular WWII), its gorgeous comic art and brilliantly voiced, written and delivered narration at the start and ending of the film. I wanted to love this movie, but the abundance of the wacky and the funny made me just like it…
THE EXTRAS
Audio Commentary by Ralph Bakshi: I didn’t know jack about Bakshi’s career and personality besides seeing the films he’d done. Needless to say I listened quite attentively to every word the man had to say during this fun and lively audio track. This is a must for all animation buffs; Ralph expands on all the techniques and trickery used to bring WIZARDS to life. An above average commentary track, check it out! It helps that he’s got a kickass Brooklyn accent & attitude.

Ralph Bakshi: The Wizard of Animation (34 minutes) : Everything you always wanted to know about Ralph Bakshi, at your fingertips, right here in this featurette. Bakshi takes us from his start as an inker in a small TV animation studio to his writing and directing some of the greatest low-budget street-wise animated classics from the seventies: FRITZ THE CAT, HEAVY TRAFFIC and COONSKIN. He then gets down and dirty and breaks down WIZARDS piece by piece, complete with its hidden meanings and storyline inspirations. I loved this, a great feature that you simply must sample…

Still Galleries, TV Spots and Theatrical Trailers
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Is it worth a rental? Of course it is. It’s got enough ‘oomph’ in it to merit at least that. And if you’re a Bakshi whore as am I, then you might as well add it to your collection too. The man’s commentary alone is worth the few extra bucks. Everyone else should rent it if only to go back to a time when animation was a little more edgy, a little more sexy and a little more Bakshi. Okay, so I like saying “Bakshi”, sue me!
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