Monday, October 4, 2010

No Magic In Wizards, A Film Gutted By Itself.

The Good: Opening themes, Amusing visual style
The Bad: Thematic conclusions, Characters, Simplicity of plot, Narrative devices, Overriding simplicity
The Basics: A sad attempt to be innovative, Wizards fails due to complete hokey camp quality and thematic reversals.

It's always a shame when someone in the movie or music industry attempts to be innovative and fails. I'd rather sit through twenty innovative failures like Wizards than watch Gladiator ever again. That said, the troublingly campy Wizards is an animated film that tries to be adult and fails. Horrible.

The film, made in the mid-1970s, is a fantasy film about the world two million years from now. Humanity having destroyed itself, the last remnants have long mutated into something barely recognizable as human. The earth is populated by evil mutants in the radiation-filled wastelands that were our planet. In the long interim, mythical beings have re-emerged, including pixies and elves. As the opening voice-over tells us, there is now great conflict between the forces of magic and those of technology.

Wizards centers around two prominent magic-users, twins born a couple thousand years ago. Avatar is the good, though clumsy, wizard who preaches peace, love and earthloving magic. The evil Black Wolf starts his place in the film by showing the 70s flair for blatant psychology; as a child he tortured animals and didn't visit his mother. Black Wolf is marshaling all of the forces of evil in an attempt to reunite Earth under a totalitarian regime. Avatar, in the company of an exposed fairy queen, a young elf warrior, and a robot reprogrammed and named Peace, leads an effort to thwart Black Wolf's attempt to establish a Nazi-esque power base. Neither wizard seems to use magic very often.

With names like Avatar for the good wizard and Black Wolf for the sickly mutant wizard of evil, it's obvious right off the bat that this film is going to be polarized and juvenile. While the film attempts to be adult with the costuming of the fairy queen, the images of Nazis played as background to the hordes of animated mayhem, and depicting multiple instances of carnage, it fails to be adult in that it goes over the top; it's too obvious.

The plus sides of the film are that it begins with some good thematic messages and it's fun to look at. Wizards, while establishing a classic good vs. evil dichotomy, plants some good ideals of peace, love and brotherhood in its opening scenes. Too bad it does not stick with it. Avatar's ultimate resolution to the problem is thematically disgusting and disheartening to those who do believe in peace, love, and brotherhood! As for the look of the film, it's easy on the eyes. The animation is mixed with still backgrounds and moving footage, setting it apart from anything made today.

But even that is not flawless. A large chunk of the film is presented as still images with voice-over work, as if the viewer is being read from a picturebook. It's somewhat insulting. The flops between the moving animation and the still frames with voice-overs is not seamless and it's more distracting than illuminating. It has the feeling of the production company running out of money to pay the animators and explaining things rather than maintaining continuity.

The plot is simple and none of the characters are particularly genuine. The film views like a children's picturebook. And while most fairy tales (especially Grimm's) contain adult themes and are marketed toward children, this anti-genocide, antiwar (if it can be called that) film is marketed towards adults, but despite the cartoon violence, can only be appreciated by children.

Ideal for an evening with friends for a session of Mystery Science Theater 3000 mockery.

For other animated films, please check out my reviews of:
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Despicable Me
The Little Mermaid


For other movie reviews, please click here to visit my index page!

© 2010, 2001 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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