Wizards is a Ralph Bakshi production that is a lot more family friendly than some of his other better known works aka Fritz the Cat and the less said about his adaptation of The Lord of The Rings, the better. Wizards does borrow a lot from the Tolkein classic however, in it’s themes of industrialism versus nature as played out in the classic good versus evil story.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where an ancient prophet foretells the coming of twins who will battle and the outcome of the con…lict will determine the fate of the new Earth. As predicted, twin sons are born to the Queen of the Fairies. One son is of human appearance and if full of good (Avatar), where his twin is a mutant and quite evil (Blackwolf). Blackwolf’s misdeeds have him banished from the Fairydom where he swears to get his revenge as he departs. He plans on accomplishing his task by reviving the war machines of old. Avatar is a pacifist and wants nothing to do with war but as his evil brother’s machinations draw Avatar directly into the conflict via assassination attempts, he begins to realize that he cannot escape his destiny.
It has Bakshi’s trademark animation which is a throwback to 60’s underground comics which is not to everyone’s tastes (mine included ) and is interspersed with old film footage including stock Nazi trooper footage. Nothing subtle about that. The story, once you get into it is quite entertaining and somewhat thought provoking, which I think was Bakshi’s intent.
Wizards is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85.1 and it is enhanced for anamorphic monitors. While the colors look fairly bright and crisp and the black levels remain pretty consistent, there is quite a bit of print damage throughout the presentation. This is most noticeable during the sequences that utilize stock footage so some of it is to be expected, but there are also more than a few instances where the actual animated footage itself is looking a little rougher than you’d probably have hoped for. Still, overall it’s a decent transfer that’s quite watchable, it’s just not perfect.
Wizards is presented in Dolby 2.0 stereo but there is not much separation of sound into the right and left speakers. As well the bass is definitely lacking in the battle scenes. The dialogue comes through quite clear but at times there appeared to be some distortion of the sound and mild hissing.
Bakshi is on hand for a moderately interesting director’s commentary that runs the entire length of the feature. He spends quite a bit of time explaining why he made the film the way he did and justifying his various artistic decisions. This makes an interesting listen if you enjoyed his more risqué work like Fritz The Cat as a lot of the influences are the same for both films (most notably the underground comic books of the sixties).
The other big extra on this release is Ralph Bakshi: The Wizard Of Animation. This is a half hour documentary on the life and work of Ralph Bakshi from his early days at the Terrytoon Studios through to Fritz The Cat and Wizards. He explains a lot about his influences and goes into detail about some of the ‘why’ and wherefores’ of his catalogue, which makes for a pretty interesting thirty minutes. Disney fans won’t be too impressed with his thoughts on that particular studio but that doesn’t make the featurette any less enjoyable.
Rounding out the extra features are two trailers for the film and a still gallery.
While not a big fan of the animation style, I did find the story to be captivating. Definitely worth a rental.
Special Features List
- Commentary by director Ralph Bakshi
- Theatrical trailer
- “Ralph Bakshi: The Wizard of Animation” featurette
- Still gallery