Wizards
1977
In a bleak future that's a blend of World War II Europe and Tolkien's Middle-earth, a runty wizard (Bob Holt) must save the world from fascist mutants controlled by his evil twin brother (Steve Gravers), who likes to project films of Adolf Hitler speeches during attacks. Animator Ralph Bakshi blends everything from swords and sorcery to kung fu and nuclear catastrophe in this bizarre flick, which has become a cult classic for its subversive tone.

Scott Hardie: “It sucked.”

In the bonus doc accompanying this film on DVD, Ralph Bakshi pats himself on the back for following the wise lesson he had learned at Terrytoons, that budget doesn't matter as long as you have heart. That's true, but this movie's passion lies in other bodily organs further south. Besides, its thematic ambition is so large that the micro-budget and corner-cutting work against it; it arrives like a giant of a man wearing a midget's best suit. The extended use of rotoscoping is particularly annoying, because nothing of consequence seems to be happening in most of the scenes that use it; it's almost as if Bakshi paid so much for archived war footage that he had to cram a lot of it into the film. But there are enough weaknesses elsewhere, such as the reusing of the same shots over and over, that you just can't get past the lousy animation and appreciate the socio-political message for what it is, not that Bakshi is in any way subtle about it. I'm grateful for Bakshi releasing the kind of cartoon he wanted to make and now bowing to commercial pressure, but getting his mind out of the bedroom and relying less on lazy animation techniques would have made his movie as good as the ideas behind it.

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