Wizards review by Captain VideoWar Wizard was made in the 70's and had a small cult following. It was released at the same time as "Star Wars" but clearly had a different fate.
Interestingly, Mark Hamill of Star wars fame, also provided a voice in Wizards. The original title of Wizards was "War Wizards" to avoid the confusion of two films with Mark Hamill having the word "war" in the title, they film makers chose to change the name to simply "Wizards".
Wizards was done in the traditional cell style of animation similar to a Disney film or Hana Barbara cartoon. But the story was anything but Disney. In the same lines as the earlier "Fritz the Cat" the story was meant for adults. In addition to traditional cell animation, the director also used other experimental techniques to create the darker side of his fantasy world.
The filmmaker created a world of magic and fantasy inspired by Tolkien's Hobit and Lord of the Rings. This is a world of good vs evil, of magical creatures and of family dynasties that pit one against another, however instead of a father and son rift as in Star Wars, this is about the good brother against bad.
Clearly it must have taken a leap of faith to green light such an unusual project, and of course such a project would only get a minimal budget.
The story follows two brothers, both with strong magical powers, one takes the path of love and goodness, and the other takes the path of evil and war. Each brother prospers in his own country and years pass as each brother grows strong in their own ways.
Eventually the evil brother starts attacking the good one and the good brother must travel across the wastelands to rescue the fair maiden that has fallen under an evil spell.
Stylistically, the Wizards is interesting, the image of "Peace" sitting atop his steed is an icon for fantasy art in the 70's. However, the storyline and storytelling do leave room for improvement. The characters voice work in some places is beyond awkward. These bad spots in the voice over work take you right out of the film and make you wonder if they had even pre-read the script. In a few laces it sounded like an frightened student forced to read their homework in front of their class. The narrative also suffers in many places. The use of a narrator to set up the film is fine, but the narrator quickly becomes a crutch to fill in a lot of gaps, and to jump the story around. Ultimately it feels as though more time is spent listening to narration moving the film along instead of watching events unfold.
The movie certainly carries a message from the times that it was created, and clearly holds an interesting place in the counter-culture movement from which it was born.
The Wizards ends in a way that totally caught me by surprise (don't worry no spoilers here) and in fact annoyed me. On the one hand I "got" the message, on the other hand, it annoyed me more than a "deus ex machina" ending. However, in the end I was still mulling it over in my head a few days later, so in one way the film maker succeeded.
Perhaps as a film from the 70's groovy days, it might take on a whole other meaning if one watches it in another state of mind, (like watching the Pink Floyd's "The Wall"). If you are a fan of all things animated, or if you are keen on things from a historical perspective, this might be an a film for you. In many ways it does hold up well. In other areas not so much. This is after all a cult classic, not a blockbuster.
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