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WIZARDS

Although disjointed in its approach and tone, Ralph Bakshi’s WIZARDS ($15) is nothing, if not, an interesting exercise in animated storytelling. Set in a post-apocalyptic future where fairies and other magical creatures have reemerged upon a slowly recuperating Earth. Also emerging in the war scarred sections of the planet are the mutants created by the nuclear fallout. Eventually, two brothers are born into this world; and although, polar opposite in nature both grow to be powerful wizards. Avatar, human in appearance, practices natural magic and lives in the greener lands of Montagar. Blackwolf has the appearance of a mutant, and after doing battle with his brother, has been exiled the radioactive wastelands of Scorch. After the passage of three millennia, Blackwolf has built his powerbase fusing magic with forbidden technology and the ideology of Nazi Germany, all with a single purpose- to defeat his brother and claim the greener lands for him and mutant followers. WIZARDS features the vocal talents of Bob Holt, Steve Gravers, Jesse Welles, David Proval and Mark Hamill.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made WIZARDS available on DVD in a 1.85:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a pretty good-looking transfer of material that has some technical limitations. The animation isn’t Disney-esque; looking somewhat low rent at times, plus the film relies upon stock footage that has been rotoscoped to create aspects of the film’s battle sequences. Image sharpness and detail are respectable, which is about all one can expect from this type of animated feature. Colors range from strong to subdued, depending upon the effect the filmmakers were going for at any given moment. Contrast is good, plus the backs and whites appear accurate. There are some blemishes on the film elements and some noticeable grain- nothing too excessive, but these are things that could have been smoothed over a bit more with digital cleanup. Digital compression artifacts always remain in check.

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WIZARDS comes with English Dolby Digital monaural and remixed stereo soundtrack options. For the most part, both tracks get the job done with minimal hiss and no overt distortions. Fidelity has some limitations, which can leave some of the sound effects sounding just a tad hollow. Dialogue is always crisp sounding and completely understandable. The stereo version of the soundtrack has the advantage of adding a bit more presence to the film’s musical component. A Spanish language track has also been encoded onto the DVD, as have English, French and Spanish subtitles.

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The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Director Ralph Bakshi is on hand for a rather informative running audio commentary, in which he explains his various inspirations and stylistic choices for WIZARDS. Ralph Bakshi: The Wizard of Animation is a half hour profile of the director, which traces his career and allows his to discuss his work. Two trailers, a TV spot and a dozen still galleries close out the extras.

WIZARDS, along with Ralph Bakshi’s other animated films have developed quite a following over the years. I’ve always found WIZARDS to be one of his most interesting works and am glad that it has finally materialized on DVD. As for the disc itself, it looks and sounds just fine, so if you are a fan, you’ll definitely want to check out WIZARDS on DVD.

 

WIZARDS 


Wizards (1977)

ENHANCED FOR 16:9 TELEVISIONS 


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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