Ralph Bakshi's second best movie now on DVD!
John Lindsey | Socorro, New Mexico USA. | 09/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
Set long ago after the Ice Age, in a age of barbarian, warriors, kings and sorcery abound as a diabolical tyrant named "Nekron" and his mother "Juliane" who lives at the ice region wants to conquer the region of fire ruled by King Jerol. Suddenly Jerol's beautiful daughter Teegra is kidnapped by Nekron's subhuman hechmen, a warrior named "Lar" must protect her and defeat Nekron from taking over the kingdom as well as having the help of an avenging barbarian warrior named "Darkwolf".
A nicely done animated fantasy that has a combination of live actors traced with animation ( Rotoscoping), it's Ralph Bakshi's second best movie next to "American Pop" and "Wizards" but certainly better than his version of "Lord of the Rings". The movie is also designed by famous artist Frank Farzetta ( whom did covers to Tarzan books, Conan The Barbarian and Vampirella) with some good animation & Coloring especially the impressive rotoscopic stuff and a beautiful hottie for the guys there.
This 2-disc limited edition has great picture & Sound quality, a commentary by director Ralph Bakshi, featurettes, a photo gallery, trailer and the second disc has a documentary on Frank Farzetta and his life.
Most recommended movie to anyone who enjoys fantasy, animation and even anime!
Also recommended: "Rock and Rule", "Wizards", "Starchaser: Legend of Orin", "The Dark Crystal", "Conan The Barbarian", " Army of Darkness", " Willow", " The Black Cauldron", " Lord of the Rings ( 1978)", "Lord of the Rings Trilogy", " Princess Mononoke", "The Last Unicorn", "The Secret of NIMH", " The Hobbit", "Return of the King ( Animated)", "Hercules" (Disney), " Legend", "Conquest", "Blade Master", " Ator the Invincible", "Krull", " Dragonheart", " The Sword in The Stone", " Record of Lodoss Wars", "King Arthur", "Excalibur", " The Princess Bride"."
The way fantasy films (and animation DVD's) should be!
TrezKu13 | Norfolk, VA | 10/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hey folks, before I begin take a look at the front cover. See the big guy on top, big muscles, menacing grin, huge axe? His name's Dark Wolf, and he is awesome. More on him later.
"Fire and Ice" is a film by Ralph Bakshi, known for films like "Fritz the Cat," "Wizards," and other animated classics that never seem to get their worthy repute. This film came out shortly after "American Pop" and unfortunately did not make too much money at the box office. Watching the film, I really can't see why. This was one of the most enjoyable fantasy films I've seen in years. The film was a co-creation of Ralph Bakshi and Frank Frazetta, one of the most famous illustrators in the 20th century. As Bakshi says in commentaries and interviews on the DVD, making a film completely like a Frazetta painting would have been impossible, but he wanted to capture that atmosphere as best he could. In fact Frazetta fans will notice many easily recognizable homages in the film, particularly "The Death Bringer." The plot is simple enough - evil wizard Nekron (who is basically Emperor Palpatine in his teen days) is moving a mighty glacier across the land, conquering and destroying anything in his path. As he approaches Firekeep, last bastion of resistance, his mother kidnaps the Princess Tygra to give Nekron a mate and bring Firekeep to the discussion table. Mixed into this plot are Larn, lone survivor of a village destroyed by Nekron's glacier who falls for Tygra, and Dark Wolf, a mysterious figure following Parn who is after Nekron and is also awesome.
Now, "Fire and Ice" was rotoscoped, and if you've seen Bakshi's "Lord of the Rings" you're probably cringing. However, do not fear - the tinted live-action orcs are long gone. This is a complete animated film, and every one is fully animated. I might also add that they are very well animated, and even though live action was used to assist in keeping things like a Frank Frazetta painting it was not relied upon. Many creatures, such as the dragons (animated by a young Peter Cheung) and the giant lizard were animated normally. Plus, looking at the real life actors can clue you in on just how many liberties the animators took in moderating character designs. You think Tygra was that well endowed in real life? Think again! And the neanderthals were in fact normal guys moving about with their characteristics added later. (remembering the cheap outfits of the orcs in "Lord of the Rings," I think we can be thankful for that) As an additional note, guess who did all the background artwork? Two young guys fresh out of college known as...James Gurney and Thomas Kinkade. That's right, the guys who went on to do "Dinotopia" and uh...lighthouses...got their start doing this film.
It's far from a completely perfect film - some of the dialogue is a tad campy. You thought those scenes between Padme and Anakin on the balcony in Episode III were bad? Take a look at the scenes between Tygra and Parn in the ruins. But listen, this is everything a fantasy film SHOULD be. Giant lizards, sword fights, buff guys, ugly guys, lesbian witches, gorgeous women in bikinis, gorgeous women in bikinis being kidnapped by ugly guys, buff guys killing ugly guys, ugly guys getting trampled by giant lizards...this film has it all. It also has a great cast, particularly Nekron and Dark Wolf. Nekron is a dirty bastard incarnate, who has unlimited powers and knows it, smugly ticking off other characters he knows he can easily beat up. For example, when haughty Prince Taro of Firekeep goes with an entourage to speak with him and get Tygra back, Nekron grins and states...
Nekron: "I must admit that at first the idea of mating with your sister filled me with revulsion. Perhaps I should reconsider...she is, after all, not entirely unattractive, as lesser beings go."
This is followed by the Prince Taro trying to kill Nekron, only to be forced by Nekron to kill his own men and then himself. Didn't I say he was evil?
But now this brings me to the absolute hands down best character of the whole film: Dark Wolf. As previously stated, Dark Wolf is awesome. Neanderthals in this movie should really be called "Dark Wolf fodder" as he takes out about half of Nekron's army during the course of the film. Lurking in the fog, tossing two rocks at once, using their own weapons against them, nothing can stop this guy. Although Larn is technically the hero, Dark Wolf is definately the true man of action, embodying the Death Dealer. He also has one of the best lines in the movie when Larn won't go after Tygra while Dark Wolf distracts the neanderthals.
Dark Wolf: "Go!"
Dark Wolf: *menacing scowl* "THE HELL YOU WON'T!" *tosses Larn off a cliff*
The DVD itself is equally impressive. It's a two-DVD set, with the first DVD the film along with documentaries about the film, pictures of the live action sequences and animation techniques, and a commentary by Ralph Bakshi. The second DVD is an hour and a half documentary on the life of Frank Frazetta and the influence of his artwork, and is a worthy watch for any one interested in art.
This was well worth the buy. Even if you're not an avid Ralph Bakshi or Frank Frazetta fan, definately give this film a check out. Like I said, it's not an animated classic, it's just a lot of fun."
Bakshi and Frazetta --
wiredweird | Earth, or somewhere nearby | 12/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"-- it doesn't get any better.
The story is straightforward sword and sorcery, kingdom of Fire vs. the evil kingdom of Ice. As in Bakshi's other best movies, it's rotoscoped cel animation over painted backgrounds, a combination I like a lot. That gives completely natural movement to the animated figures, and great atmosphere from the backgrounds.
There were a few negatives in this DVD. First was transfer quality. There's a visible amount of "snow" in many places, enough to notice, but not enough to get in the way of the movie. Then there's the inherently loose relationship between the cel animation and the backgrounds - a few scenes seemed to have the characters skating across the surroundings. Excessive reality can also be a drawback. Teegra, the female lead, spent a lot of time running from the bad guys. Unfortunately, she tended to "run like a girl" (and I don't mean Jackie Joyner Kersee) - she rarely conveyed the athletic or panicked sense I would have expected of a woman running for her life.
The positives far outweigh the problems, though. Frazetta's characters are richly drawn: lush womanly figures, mighty males, grunting hench-beings, and the Death Dealer. The story holds together, and the rotoscoped actors did great jobs. And the DVD extras - wow. I normally ignore them. These aren't just a few stills and a trailer, there are interviews with Bakshi, diary notes from one of the actors, and a whole second disc dedicated to Frazetta and his work ("Painting with Fire"). I haven't gone through all of the extras yet, but they earned that fifth star for this set.
It's not as "adult" as Fritz the Cat and other of Bakshi's work, but it's certainly not for the kiddies, either. But then, not all animation has to be. Highly recommended.
A little balance
Richard A. Tucker | Pembroke Pines, FL | 09/12/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As a fond admirer of the artwork of Frank Frazetta, and a guy who appreciates even cheesy movies and a sap for Ralph Bakshi's films my hopes for this film were pretty high. Too high? Perhaps, but in comparison to other animated films this one falls pretty short of decent (check out truly great animated films like "Princess Mononoke", "The Secret of Nimh" and "The Iron Giant" to see what I mean). The rotoscoping technique bothered me not one wit. The background stills paintings provided by Thomas Kinkade ("Painter of Light") and James ("Dinotopia") Gurney are gorgeous for the most part. The character designs are good enough. The story is, well, horrid. Thomas and Conway present the worst cliches in this tale that is so simple it's hard to believe even a first year grad student could mess it up. Then there are the animaters who, apparently decided to rachet up the oomph factor for Tigra. It's bad enough that she's realized as a flighty, air-head of a princess with no redeemable value but then her over-endowed body in some shots are just outrageous(trying to draw like Frazetta is a lost cause; animators, note his thick wrists and compact builds, please, it ain't easy imitating a lifetime of established skills). The hero, Lar, is a pretty tough character but he also is victim to awkward dialogue and ridiculous escapes. And why is everyone in the frozen "Ice Keep" dressed for a day at the beach, a hot day at the beach to boot? The only characters worth their credits are Steve Sandor as Darkwolf (Frazetta's Death Dealer, slumming perhaps?) and Leo Gordon as King Jerol (sp?). The rest of the cast have their moments but they are all too brief. There are some great fight scenes. There are times when the action is nothing short of breathtaking. Then the characters start speaking again and it's "ARGH..!!" time all over again.
This animated film pretty much proves to me that the true dream projects are not the ones I anticpate, but instead are the ones I haplessly discover. I wished after all these years of not seeing it I would rediscover a scratched but worthy gem. I come away thinking instead, how could they have screwed this up? Another potentially wonderful film deserving the discount bin treatment.
The second disc "Painting with Fire" is the real reason to own this disc set. This, well thought out and beautifully flawed attempt to put Frank Frazetta's life into perspective is inspired and enjoyable. It could have used a bigger budget and more art but it is beyond a doubt one of the best documentaries about an artist that I've seen.
For those who like the film "Fire and Ice" I'm glad for you. Just don't resent me for having different standards."