This week I’ve got a review of a western animated movie – one by cult director Ralph Bakishi, and base on the work of a fantasy legend – Frank Frazetta.
Randy Norton as Larn
Cynthia Leake as Teegra
Steve Sandor as Darkwolf
Sean Hannon as Nekron
Leo Gordon as Jarol
William Ostrander as Taro / voice of Larn
Eileen O’Neill as Juliana
Elizabeth Lloyd Shaw as Roleil
Micky Morton as Otwa
Directed by Ralph Bakishi
Written by Ralph Bakishi, Gerry Conway, Frank Frazetta, Roy Thomas
The evil Queen Juliana and her son, Prince Nekron, plot to conquer the world through an advancing line of glaciers from their fortress in Icepeak. The only hope for civilization is the noble King Jarol in Firekeep. Jarol’s daughter, Teegra is captured by a strike force of Nekron’s sub-human soldiers, but escapes and is rescued by Larn, the last survivor of a village destroyed by Nekron’s glaciers. Larn, Tegra, and the mysterious warrior Darkwolf must defeat Nekron before he subjugates humanity.
The animation in action the sequences flows smoothly and organically, with very well done backgrounds (with some of Frazetta’s work being adapted by Thomas Kinkade and James Gurney). This is probably one of Bakishi’s films where his extensive use of rotoscoping works best.
Also, the character of Darkwolf is extremely well written and practically steals the film.
The film fails to really take advantage of the breadth of Frazetta’s work, in favor of just re-iterating the iconic Frazetta image – the noble loin-cloth clad barbarian protecting a bikini-clad woman from a savage ape-man, also clad in a loin-cloth. Certainly some of his art represented that, and not all of it – and this leads to a somewhat unfortunate situation where neither side has any sort of distinctive look, and the only way to the humans from the sub-humans from behind is through posture and skin color (the sub-humans are darker skinned).
Also, the rotoscoped animation for Teegra’s running is poorly done.
The film has some bloody violence, but no real gore. Additionally, Teegra spends most of the film in practically a microkini.
Originality: The plot is rather generic, existing to give a narrative justification to a few Frank Frazetta paintings. 2 out of 6.
Animation: In action sequences the animation is smooth and flows evenly, and the rotoscoping works fairly well at capturing body language in performances. However, when it comes to characters having to run over any sort of distance, the animation falls apart. 4 out of 6.
Acting: The performances are decent at best, but definitely not mindblowing. 3 out of 6.
Story: The story is very bland and generic. It’s not the dullest story I’d seen, but while images from the film are definitely memorable. There are no plot points to speak of that distinguish this movie from any other generic fantasy film. 3 out of 6.
Emotional Response: The characters in the film just don’t get enough backstory or development to be memorable. 1 out of 6.
Production: The sound is decent, though the musical score is bland and generic – nothing near the scores of, say, Conan The Barbarian. 2 out of 6.
Overall: This film is overwhelmingly average. Nothing more, and nothing less. 3 out of 6.
In Total, Fire and Ice gets 17 out of 42.