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  Wizards Myths Of The Far Future
Year: 1977
Director: Ralph Bakshi
Stars: Bob Holt, Jesse Welles, Richard Romanus, David Proval, Steve Gravers, Christopher Tayback, Jim Connell, Mark Hamill, Susan Tyrrell
Genre: Animated, Science Fiction, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Many years ago there was a huge scale war on planet Earth which nearly wiped out the human race completely. From the ashes of that conflict rose two distinct groups of people: the evil Mutants, who used technology, and the good Fairies, who used magic, and they have been at loggerheads ever since a young Fairy woman gave birth to twin Wizards, Avatar (voiced by Bob Holt) and Blackwolf (voiced by Steve Gravers). Avatar grew up to be a force for good in the land of Montagar, but evil Blackwolf ruled over the blasted land of Scortch where he drew up armies for the invasion of Montagar. Now, using technology he has found from centuries before, Blackwolf will bring war to the planet once more...

After the social and urban themes of his previous films, writer, director and producer Ralph Bakshi turned his attentions on a more family oriented project, and the busy fantasy Wizards was the result. But there are few family cartoons that feature fairy prostitutes or images of Adolf Hitler, so Bakshi evidently had the edge he had shown before, only this time he was more concerned with myth and legend, apparently seeing the atrocities of the Second World War as something that would become the legends of the future. Looking ahead to his adaptation of The Lord of the Rings (well, half of The Lord of the Rings), this film certainly follows the pattern of Tolkien's quests and warfare.

The characters on the quest to stop Blackwolf in his tracks are led by Avatar, a diminutive, red-bearded sorcerer who has lived for hundreds of years and may well live for hundreds more, unless Blackwolf has his way. Then there's elfin warrior Weehawk (voiced by Richard Romanus) and curvaceous fairy Elinore (voiced by Jesse Welles), who doesn't look anything like the kind of heroine you'd get in a Disney cartoon. Finally, an assassin sent to kill Avatar is "reprogrammed", named Peace (voiced by David Proval), and set up to provide security - although Avatar admits the killer may still be under Blackwolf's spell.

While colourfully realised, the animation shows signs of a low budget. Quite often scenes will be represented by detailed drawings accompanied by a voiceover (provided by an uncredited Susan Tyrrell) to fill the gaps in the narrative. Then, as is so often the case with Bakshi's work, there's the rotoscoping, which helps in the battle sequences, and even contains actual footage from World War II overlaid with animation; the explanation for this is the powerful projector which Blackwolf uses to confront his enemies. Otherwise, the characters are recognisably from Baskshi's imagination, yet still appearing oddly juvenile.

Some of the people Avatar's company meet on the way might as well be Smurfs, such as the tiny fairies who imprison Elinore at one point. Others are more sinister looking, adorned in gasmasks or toting rifles and machine guns, but they act like idiots. The anti-war theme gives Wizards a muddled feeling rather than a focus, and Bakshi seems more at ease creating the grotesque denizens of this future Earth. The nature (or magic) versus technology battle might as well have been forgotten about judging by the latter stages, and the grit and violence is out of place for a supposed family audience, meaning the film is best suited to adolescents or animation fans who will enjoy seeing Bakshi's undeniable talent tackle this strange mixture of influences. The ending, presumably ironic, is a bit of a letdown. Music by Andrew Belling.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Ralph Bakshi  (1938 - )

American animator of edgy, often adult-oriented cartoons. He spent a few years directing shorts for TV before branching out on his own with the R. Crumb adaptation Fritz the Cat. He continued in this frank approach for Heavy Traffic and the controversial Coonskin, and then switched to fantasy with The Lord of the Rings, Wizards and Fire and Ice. American Pop and Hey Good Lookin' also had fans, and he returned to TV to revive Mighty Mouse in the 1980s.

When the 1990s comeback Cool World was a flop, Bakshi's directing work wound down, and he now concentrates on his paintings, with occasional returns to animation.

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