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Wizards (1977)

Cast: Barbara Sloane, Barbara Sloane, Hyman Wien, more...
Director: Ralph Bakshi, Ralph Bakshi
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Genre: Science Fiction , Post-Apocalypse, Animation, Cel
Running Time: 80 min.
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    see additional details...

In this animated futuristic tale, a pair of twins must fight for domination of what is left of the world, the good man using the powers of magic in an attempt to save the Earth, and the evil twin taking advantage of the horrors of technology that again threaten to destroy everything. ~ Iotis Erlewine, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Worst. Animated. Film. Ever. (Bakshi fans will hate me for this.) by JTurner1 July 30, 2004 - 4:52 PM PDT
5 out of 5 members found this review helpful
I don't know what Ralph Bakshi was thinking when he made this post-apocalyptic animated "fantasy" about an evil wizard who uses Nazi propaganda films to stir his mutant minions to conquer the earth and his brother trying to stop him, but I know what I am thinking: if this is the sort of film Bakshi considers the pinnacle of his career, then I am a monkey's uncle.

There are some interesting aspects scattered here and there, such as vibrantly drawn stills (with a very BORING, disinterested female voiceover narrating) and a pretty song over the closing credits, but I'm not going to change my mind about this film anymore than I did when I first watched it nine years ago. Wizards is a failure, pure and simple. The overemphasis on Nazi propaganda actually makes this movie MORE of a war film than an anti-war.

But this isn't alone what makes Wizards such an appallingly bad film. The animation is very cheap, nasty, and at times, utterly unwatchable. Even scenes where rotoscoped armies (you know, those shadowy creatures which look like paintings over actual actors) are pathetic to look at. Even on DVD, the quality of the animation is mixed. There are also lots of defects on the digital transfer.

The characters and the plot, however, are the worst offenders. The good wizard who fights against his brother is not a pure, good wizard, but a dwarfish, grouchy old codger who spends much of the time rambling and smoking and less showing off his goodness. The other characters are no better. There's a very scantily clad fairy female who does little more than showcase obnoxious giggling and is an absolute waste. Only the elf warrior character HAS some interesting personality. The other characters, however, are undefined, uninteresting, and worse, unappealing.

It's the plot, however, which really kills Wizards. It's badly conceived, it's poorly written, and it's not at all clear or focused. It almost seems to me like Bakshi didn't even KNOW where he wanted to go with this picture, which is why there are lots of plot jumps (such as the fairy character suddenly turning evil and almost written off as a traitor... only to be redeemed at the end), offensively horrendous sequences (the bottom of a creature with a Jewish star marked on it dangling from a rope in a swastika-endomed throne room, and two praying dwarf priests who beat each other up), and dialogue which sounds like it could've been written by somebody on drugs. Even worse is the execution: during the war sequences, there are moments when the animated elf guys perform giggle-induced belly flops with the corresponding "BOINK!" sound effects.

The aural aspects of the film, aside from the aforementioned end title song, are just as appalling. The voice acting (which includes a then unknown Mark Hamill) is dry and awkward, with the worst offenders being the fairy's obnoxious giggling and the monotone narrator. The cheesy synthesizer pop music is, well, just that: cheesy. (Matters are not made any better by the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo or Mono tracks; both sound very hollow and flat.)

I did find the extras on this disc somewhat interesting; there are still galleries, two (very bad) theatrical trailers, a TV spot, and a 30-minute interview with Bakshi himself. This guy is just as rambling, confused, mumbling, and disgruntled as his films are. Indeed, from seeing other films of his such as Fire and Ice (probably his best, though that's not saying much) and his hideous "treatment" of Lord of the Rings (Jackson's trilogy is so much better), he does have some talent, but he spends most of the time offending rather than getting the point across.

I understand that this film has its loyal following and I do reognize that Bakshi has merits as an artist, but Wizards has never been on my list of favorites, and even after seeing it again, the film has done little to change my views. There are plenty of FAR, far better animated movies than this wretchedly animated, dated, misguided mess.

Ripoff Gains Respectability With Age by RWaller June 1, 2004 - 7:59 PM PDT
4 out of 7 members found this review helpful
I am saddened that no one today remembers the "cartoon messiah" Vaughn Bode, whose creations "Junkwaffel" and "Cheech Wizard" were pioneer works of alternative comics.

Ralph Bakshi, desiring to do a Cheech Wizard movie after his success with "Fritz the Cat" (a film despised by Fritz's creator, Robert Crumb) already had a lot of footage in the can before he bothered to ask for permission. When Bode refused to approve the project, Bakshi went ahead anyway, reworking some of the finished material to disguise the characters, but not much.

The reason why this film is such a mishmosh of styles, is that it is a combination of material based on Cheech Wizard and Junkwaffel (unattributed of course), material altered to try to make it look sufficiently different from the Bode originals, and material thrown together on the quick (lots of bad rotoscope) to fill in for stuff that couldn't be used without Bakshi getting sued by Bode's lawyer, if he had one.

Vaughn Bode is dead and forgotten now, but this piece of sloppy plagiarism still exists. Too bad for all of us.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 5.67)
122 Votes
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