15 / 100
Watchable Minutes : 10 / 80. This short movie has almost zero compelling story or material, you should only watch about 10 minutes of it just to see what type of movie you aren’t missing out on.
Trailer Comparison : The above is the only clean cut trailer I could find. It pretty much gives you all you need to know about the movie. I think this is a better movie than the full length movie because it’s over in 2 minutes and you don’t have to waste your time with the rest of the real thing.
Movie or Film : I think Wizards tries very hard to be a film, but it is overbearing and heavy handed with its symbolism and metaphors. I don’t think I can put it cleanly into a film category or a movie category. It’s got more concrete messaging that’s easy to interpret than some of the other films I’ve seen, but it is so comically bad at the same time that I can’t justify it as a film.
- Run time : 1 hr 20 min
- Studio : 20th Century Fox
- Director : Ralph Bakshi
- Where to Watch : Youtube ($)
Far in the future, there will be a nuclear war that will plunge the planet into the darkness of radioactive clouds and ash. For thousands of years, the surface of earth is uninhabitable, but eventually life finds a way back to the surface. The ancestors of humanity, the elves and fairfolk, return to the surface in clean and happy villages far from radioactivity. The mutated humanoid lifeforms that could not escape the radiation subsist on the outskirts, far away from the magical creatures. Both kingdoms are ruled by powerful brother wizards. There is Avatar who lives with the fairfolk, and Blackwolf who lives in Scortch 1, a city of pain and suffering. The brothers are prophesized to be engaged in eternal war and destroy the world in an epic final battle for supremacy.
To start off with, I love a good (bad) animated movie. I grew up on The Hobbit (1977) and The Transformers original series and 1986 movie. Those were the VHS tapes I watched and watched and watched until they quit working. I thought that this movie would be a sort of hidden gem that would take me back to my childhood of lazy animation and sub par writing. Unsurprisingly, this movie did not evoke feelings of nostalgia or happiness. It just made me confused and sort of shocked that anybody thought this would be a good movie.
Right off the bat, I have to say that the animation style is cheap. There are a myriad of reused shots that a keen eye will notice right away. Think of the endless and repeated backgrounds you’d see in old Scooby Doo episodes or Flintstones episodes. That type of thing will save a small animation studio a ton of money, but if not used correctly, it can look cheap and uninspired. They also opted to do rotoscoping and painting over archived war footage. If you’re making a movie filled with Nazi propaganda, might as well use the real stuff right? There are movies where live action and animation were mixed together successfully, e.g., Mary Poppins or Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The mixing that Wizards tries to put on screen came off as dirty, off putting, and just straight up bad. The mono color characters with rough outlines and single piece accents were probably some of the worst I’ve seen. All said, this movie looked like it was animated on post it notes pulled together from the story board. The sound design that was layered over the top of this story board animation was arguably worse than the visuals. The whole thing felt muffled and then painfully sharp at times. It seems like it was thrown together with minimal attention to detail and it really shows.
The lazy animation opened the door to uninspired writing and directing. I’m sure that Ralph Bakshi wanted this to be on par with the great Lord of the Rings trilogy he so boldly mentioned in the trailer, but it didn’t even come close. Where Tolkien’s writing is elegant and thoughtful, Bakshi’s is dull and trite. Nothing about his story was meaningful or new. It was the same old stuff that many movies from this era liked to preach about. The overwhelming fascist imagery and propaganda made it clear how Bakshi felt about these sort of things, which isn’t a radical departure from how most people feel about fascism. So why go through the trouble of making this movie so reliant on the concept? I can’t figure it out and I don’t want to waste too many of my remaining brain cells trying to figure it out either.
The voice acting by the cast was pretty on par for a 70s animated movie. The medium wasn’t seen as anything more than childish entertainment and that’s evident in most of the voice acting. I don’t feel any heart or soul in their delivery, so this screams “I did this for a paycheck” for most of the voice cast. I’m not going to place all of the blame on the voice cast though, because the characters themselves were not written strongly or even developed to be more than their surface level details. Nobody had anything to really work with other than what was given in the meager backstory. That’s pretty much the only decent part of this movie. The only other thing worth noting is that Mark Hamill debuted as a voice actor in this movie prior to Star Wars, later that same year. It’s a neat piece of trivia.
Would I like to see this movie again? No. Does watching this under the influence make it better or worse? Definitely worse. Should this movie get the reboot treatment? Absolutely it should. I think that this type of movie is the perfect concept to be rebooted and redone with modern technology. Animated movies have come so far and I think with some competent writers, the story laid out by Bakshi could be punched up enough to make it worth while to a modern, but niche audience. However, I don’t think a reboot is likely given that there are so many other new properties out there that are just begging to be adapted. Or we could get some original IP for once instead? I won’t get my hopes up.
If you like this, check out :
- The Hobbit (1977)
- Transformers (1986)
- Princess Mononoke