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Wizards


Ralph Bakshi makes movie magic.

Rod Lott March 19th, 2012

Ralph Bakshi's Wizards is an imperfect animated feature in script, but told with such imagination and artistry that it's a winner nonetheless. Like much of the writer/director's work, if not all, the 1977 film has survived on cult following alone. Why else would it be getting a 35th-anniversary edition?

wizards

Spanning 3,000 years, give or take, the DayGlo colorful tale of warring wizards — siblings at that — doesn't even attempt to disguise its political leanings, but kids today can appreciate it just for the pointy-eared fairies and various beasts, especially the low-IQ goons armed with laser guns.

Splendidly drawn on cels, the fantasy epic also makes novel use of projected stock footage of the World War Blitzkrieg, detailed collage backgrounds, a scosche of live-action, and imagery designed to mimic the look of comic books.

In some ways, Wizards is the ultimate Bakshi project: It plants the Tolkien seeds that would sprout into the following year's The Lord of the Rings and 1983's Fire and Ice; reigns in the chaos that would cripple 1992's Cool World; and merely teases at a naughty nature that was full-blown X in 1975's notorious Fritz the Cat. Certainly, Wizards is the most accessible, with comic interludes, synth-rock score and stoner-ready visuals.

On the book-packaged Blu-ray's half-hour interview, a lisping Bakshi says he embarked on this project to prove he could do an animated film without courting controversy, but also refers to Wizards as "a family film." It's PG-rated, all right, but the princess' ever-present poky nipples will not go unnoticed by a single kindergartener. Show 'em anyway. —Rod Lott

 
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