WIZARDS: THE GOOD AVATAR MOVIE
In 1977 Ralph Bakshi released his animated vision of a post apocalyptic earth, two million years in the future, where magic exists and mutants and allied demons battle elves, dwarves and fairies for control of the planet. For a seven year old kid this cartoon was a fucking blast. Last weekend Fox Movie Channel was showing Wizards and since I had not seen it in years I decided to give into my nostalgia, and with a minor case of dread, watch it. You know what? Wizards was still pretty damn good, so I dodged a bullet right there.
Look I’m not going to spend a bunch of time on this mostly I’m writing this because I am happy that a movie I loved as a kid still holds up.
Plot: Earth, two million years in the future, after the world was destroyed in a nuclear holocaust we find the new mankind made up up elves, dwarfs, fairies and the like engaged in combat with mutants for control of the earth. Did I mention that magic exists to this world? Well it does. The mutants are led by super magician Blackwolf who worked out a deal with Hell’s general’s to lead his mutant army over the earth. The good guys are not lead but are served by Blackwolf’s twin brother(even though they don’t look alike) Avatar also a super magician. Good vs evil, magic, fighting damn it’s a great movie for kids.
The Good: Wizards is chock full of interesting ideas, one of the central being that Blackwolf was only able to get his mutant army to have any success was by finding ancient technology that allowed him to learn about Adolf Hitler. Two million years into the future the Fourth Reich was born. According to Bakshi this movie is an retelling of the holocaust, the birth of Israel and the rise of fascism.
The voice talent in this movie is top notch and I salute the choice of using an actor name Bob Holt to voice Avatar. The reason Holt was cast is because he can sound like Peter Falk. I laughed when all the magic mumbo jumbo is going on or when deep discussions about what it means to be human are happening and the character talking sounds like Vince Ricardo from The In Laws (Serpentine Shelly. Serpentine!)
Wizards launched the voice talent career of one Mark Hamill, who also starred in a little seen space movie the same year as Wizards. Good thing that Hamill was able to get into the voice field since NOBODY saw his outer space flick.(it’s good by the way. If you can find it I recommended it)
The next good thing in Wizards was the character called Peace, who is an assassin sent out by Blackwolf to kill the leaders of the four allied tribes of man. This character is a mutant that wears a bright red sock and has an eye like a cylon. He can barely speak and all he knows is how to do is kill. With Avatars help the killer is reborn as Peace and discovers his humanity. Peace has some of the most gut wrenching scenes in the cartoon and he is, outside of Avatar, the one character with the most humanity and displays it through action and a very limited vocabulary. Some of the most insightful comments on the nature of man come out of Peace’s mouth.
Lastly, there is Avatar and his fairy squeeze Elinor. Elinor, the way she is drawn, is super hot and almost nude and is a total ditz. She is comic relief and sounds like a gun moll from a gangster movie . She’s also a warrior princess and an ass kicker.
Avatar is a complicated character. He is old(1000 years or so) and tired of fighting his brother and would rather sit around and drink, smoke cigars with his feet and do little inconsequential magic. He knows that he has to ride out on this quest to stop Blackwolf and his now rearmed with modern technology(modern for WW2 that is) corps of fanatical mutant Nazi from wiping out the world.
Lastly I really enjoyed the ideas working behind the scenes in Wizards. It showed the the idea of the neutral morality of technology; it can be used for good or corrupted for use by evil. Wizards showed the effect that propaganda has on the easily swayed. It talked about what it means to be human and the choice to be evil. Lastly Wizards never preached and never explained. It used the concept of show not tell which is something movies need to do more of.
The Bad: The animation( not in my opinion I am playing devil advocate) “pales” in comparison to modern animation due to it’s rather primitive nature, but I like the old style myself it’s comforting. I truly believe the characters have more soul then in any modern animation that I have seen. I freely admit I have not seen many modern cartoons it’s not a genre I enjoy.
So to sum it up Wizards was great when I was a kid and it is almost as good for the adult me all these years later. I would like to suggest if you are looking for a way off the trail animated movie give Wizards a go with an open mind. You might just be pleasantly surprised by it.