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  Fire and Ice Land Without CardigansBuy this film here.
Year: 1983
Director: Ralph Bakshi
Stars: Randy Norton, Cynthia Leake, Steve Sandor, Sean Hannon, Leo Gordon, William Ostrander, Eileen O'Reill, Elizabeth Lloyd Shaw, Micky Morton, Susan Tyrrell, Maggie Roswell, Stephen Mendel
Genre: Animated, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: In a far off, long ago land a battle is being fought between good and evil. Evil is represented by the forces of Queen Juliana (Eileen O'Reill and Susan Tyrrell) who, along with her equally power hungry son Nekron (Sean Hannon and Stephen Mendel) have amassed their ice sorcery to send a massive glacier from the lands of the North where they rule to the lands of the South, planning to take over by any means necessary. One survivor of the glacier's onslaught is Larn (Randy Norton and William Ostrander) whose village has been devastated; he plays dead as the army of subhumans pick their way around the bodies of the defeated, then seizes his chance to escape with the subhumans in hot pursuit...

Fire and Ice was a Conan the Barbarian style of adventure devised by animator Ralph Bakshi and fantasy artist Frank Frazetta, and plays out much as you'd expect. With their ideas scripted by Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas, the story plunges headfirst into a bunch of now stereotypical characters, all presented in Bakshi's rotoscoping technique where actors are filmed carrying out the action and then drawn over to create the animation. Whlle the backgrounds show some sense of the detail that Frazetta draws, the people are more sketchy, meaning it may disappoint those used to his gleaming artwork.

There has to be a princess for our hero to save, and she is Teegra (Cynthia Leake and Maggie Roswell) who we initially see trying to persuade her father the King to let her be a part of the defence of the kingdom, but told to return to her studies. This turns out to be a bad idea as a group of subhumans appear - the subhumans are this world's equivalent of J.R.R. Tolkien's orcs - kidnap Teegra at the behest of the Queen, and spirit her away to the forest, headed North. What is to be done? Luckily, she is not a complete washout and manages to escape underwater as her captors stop to refresh themselves at a lake.

Out hero and heroine have to meet at one point, and this comes after Larn has had a close encounter with a pack of bloodthirsty wolves, but has had mysterious help in getting away with his life. The couple get together over a leg of dead wolf, which they are both hungry enough to munch on, and predictably there's an immediate attraction, if zero actual chemistry. The next day they set off together, but Larn's inadvisable chimpanzee impression lands them in the lake where a monster grabs him, leaving Teegra to be recaptured by the subhumans. And so it goes on, with an odd lack of the true epic feeling that would be required to be successful.

Being based on Frazetta designs means that hardly anyone is wearing much more than a pair of leather underpants, or a skimpy bikini if you're female, although some of the male characters might have been more comfortable in that, you never know. With all these musclebound men and curvy women, the tone at least works up some of the fetishism of Frazetta's imagery, but the story is less than inspiring unless you're a real fan of such sword and sorcery tales. The climactic battle is unmoving, the laughing bad guys are clich├ęs (would Nekron be so keen to laugh gloatingly if he had a high pitched, girlish giggle, I wonder?) and the best you can say about the film is that it's perfectly fine, but no more than that - the story never sweeps you up in its dramatics. Music by William Kraft.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Ralph Bakshi  (1938 - )

American animator of edgy, often adult-oriented cartoons. He spent a few years directing shorts for TV before branching out on his own with the R. Crumb adaptation Fritz the Cat. He continued in this frank approach for Heavy Traffic and the controversial Coonskin, and then switched to fantasy with The Lord of the Rings, Wizards and Fire and Ice. American Pop and Hey Good Lookin' also had fans, and he returned to TV to revive Mighty Mouse in the 1980s.

When the 1990s comeback Cool World was a flop, Bakshi's directing work wound down, and he now concentrates on his paintings, with occasional returns to animation.

 
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