Everyone knows Peter Jackson’s epic Lord of the Rings trilogy. Some of us go back a bit further to Ralph Bakshi’s well-intentioned but stunted LOTR animated film. R. Crumb fans will despise Bakshi for his lamentable Fritz the Cat movie, but between Fritz and Frodo there was the lesser-known Wizards.
Set on a post-apocalypse future Earth, two wizards do battle for domination with their respective armies of elves, fairies and fantasy creatures against radioactive mutants. It’s another project that set out with the best of intentions and artistic vision, but the creative ingenuity inevitably failed against the financial constraints of the Hollywood machine. One major problem was the storyline – way too complex and violent for kids, but too childish for adults, with some low-rent anti-Nazi propaganda thrown in.
Bakshi wanted to challenge the dominant cohesive Disney animation conventions by mixing different illustration techniques, cel animation, rotoscoping and live action, with rather messy results. There are fleeting scenes of interest, but the Will O' The Wisp/Marvel/Vaughn Bodé style foreground characters are fairly poor. To my eyes the action is all in the backgrounds, designed by British illustrator Ian Miller.
Here are a few choice screenshots to spare you the effort of sitting through 90 tedious minutes.