movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] Ralph Bakshi!! In 720p!!

PLOT SUMMARY: Insert generic fantasy plot here.

HAIKU REVIEW: Good vs. Evil.
Epic fantasy battles.
This is not our earth.

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] White people fight wars using oppressed black people.

PEOPLE: Directed by master animator Ralph Bakshi (Fritz The Cat, The Lord Of The Rings, Cool World, Spicy City)!

Voice actors include Susan Tyrell (Powder, Tapeheads), Maggie Roswell (Maude Flanders/Helen Lovejoy/Miss Hoover/Milhouse’s Mom from The Simpsons) as Teegra, Stephen Mendel as Nekron.

Not worth mentioning except on a personal note — this movie stars a voice actor named “Big Yank”. Why is this funny? When Carolyn & I honeymooned in Las Vegas in February of 2000, I forgot all my underwear. Had to stop at a local store to buy some for the week. The brand they were selling? “Big Yank”. It’s been a joke for us ever since — So seeing this name in the credits made us laugh a lot.

QUIRKS: Fantasy war on a fantasy world. Fire vs Ice — with fire being the good guys, and ice being the bad guys. This world seems like it was cut from the same cloth as other great fantasy worlds, such as the worlds depicted in Conan The Barbarian, or Krull.

VISUALS: Ralph Bakshi animation — but rotoscoped. You can tell that it’s all hand-drawn, due to the “shimmer” given by the slight inconsistency in the thickness of lines between frames. I commented several times that the movement seemed very organic and fluid, but now that we found out it is rotoscoped, this makes sense: The movement really was based on real, organic actors moving. Thus the realism.

The backgrounds were very interesting. They were all hand-painted by famous fantasy painter Frank Frazetta — who had done cover art for Conan The Barbarian comics. They were NOT detail oriented at all, and lent a kind of abstract feel to the landscape. The lack of detail is most certainly more obvious in the blu-ray/high-definition version of this movie. Samurai Jack‘s painted backgrounds definitely seem to have been influenced by the look and feel of this movie; Samurai Jack plays like a modernized and more cartoony (no rotoscoping) version of the animation style used in this movie.

And Teegra? She is one of the sexiest cartoons ever. She is wearing an itsy-bitsy see-through bikini. She was originally animated naked the entire movie, but they went in and added the bikini later.

POLITICS: Most battles and grunt work are performed by the “sub-humans” — who are basically racistly-drawn black people who speak in animalistic tongues. But by calling them sub-humans, there is the implication that they are a different species on this planet than the white humans (or the purple “Ice People”). Since man evolved from apes, and was originally black — it would make biological and evolutionary sense that “sub” humans would be black, since white people did not emerge until homo sapiens mutated. Despite this fact, a LOT of people are going to simply see racism — and nothing else — when they watch this movie. Of course, most of Bakshi’s stuff has been pretty racially charged, and this could actually be a social commentary about our planet — where expendable people, often of color, are frequently controlled and exploited for the gain of the wealthy elite. This topic is heavily discussed on this IMDB message board thread.

BAD STUFF: It is a very cliche fantasy movie: Good vs evil; The princess is kidnapped; The lone, unaffiliated anti-hero saves her; A final epic batttle ends the war of good vs evil. The dialog and characters are not very well developed. This movie is more about style than substance. It could definitely be considered cheesy by people who demand cutting-edge, modern animation and plot.

CONCLUSION: This movie is more about style than substance, but definitely succeeds in painting a uniquely visual, unearthly fantasy world, full of epic battles between good and evil. Any fan of the Heavy Metal cartoon would probably enjoy this. Just don’t get offended by the racist overtones–this is fantasy!

Clint: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10.
Carolyn: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10.
The native public rating for this movie is Netflix: 3.4/5 stars (3.5/5 stars for people who rate like me), IMDB: 6.5/10.

RECOMMENDATION: Animation and fantasy lovers should check out this cult classic.

SIMILAR MOVIES: Heavy Metal. Conan The Barbarian.

QUOTE: “He was going to pound that guy’s head in with a rock…but he got a kiss instead.” -Carolyn
“That’s like, the most metal thing ever.” -Clint

TRIVIA: In a cut scene from the script, Darkwolf was revealed to be Nekron’s father.

Mood: awake
Music: Pixies – Letter To Memphis