Fire and Ice
The fantasy genre has made some interesting marks on my cinematic life. For those that don’t know, I’m a big Disney fan and have enjoyed growing up with the fairy tale classics. I’m so much of a Disney nerd that I happen to own every animated available on Blu-ray (even the bad ones like Home on the Range). It was not until high school where I discovered that there are some adult fantasy films. I think I noticed when Lord of the Rings came out. I’m aware now that adult fantasy has been made for years, and I’m just fascinated with just how far they are willing to push the boundaries. That’s when I heard about a filmmaker named Ralph Bakshi.
Bakshi is a very talented animator who made movies that were very different compared to Disney. Unlike the family-fairy tales, the animated works of Bakshi were hard R gritty stories that ranged heavily from the darker side of New York City to scary realms of the Barbarian age. He would also employ the use of rotoscoping, which involved shooting footage in live-action, and then drawing over the images to achieve a more fluid movement. So I figured that Fire and Ice would be a good candidate to look into; it’s a hard R, it’s a fantasy, and it uses more rotoscope then I could imagine.
Unlike most of the sword and sorcery films that came out of the eighties that were based off of age-old myths and novels, Fire and Ice was an original story that seems to place itself not too long after the dawn of mankind. The world that has been created is actually pretty creative; all the land in the south, known as the Firekeep, is in the middle of a war that could risk their country. The kingdom of Icepeak is invading the south with the use of ever-growing glaciers as controlled by mother-son team of sorcerers.
The evil Queen Juliana decides to have her Neanderthal henchmen capture princess Teegra as a bride for her son. She manages to escape into the jungle, while having to wear a micro bikini for the rest of the movie. She runs into a warrior named Larn, who eventually turns out to be the last of the army he was a part of. Knowing that their heading in the same direction, they attempt to make it back, only to encounter many of the Icepeak’s army. Teegra get’s kidnapped again and Larn makes his journey to the top of the glacier castle to fight both sorcerers.
Though the material may seem complicated, Fire and Ice knows that it’s primitive setting needs a primitive story. The whole plot is the basic survival of the fittest, so it’s nothing new for the fantasy genre. What does stand out is the Ralph Bakshi touch. Much of it is the exploitive animation that has almost everyone running around half-naked. Though I can see that this movie was made to serve the filmmaker’s dreams, it’s enough to please a lot of fantasy fans looking for suggestive imagery.
What I also didn’t expect was the fact that the film has very little dialogue. Much of the story relies on the artistry of the fantasy world creative. The animation is quite detailed for something that still looks like it was produced on the cheap. The rotoscope drawings can become distracting, but it does allow for some decent fight scenes. Theirs is no way Disney would ever show the blood spewing from enemies from a sword stabbing. I’m glad that I saw this, but I don’t know if I would be excited to see it again. The artistry is beautiful and reminds me of classic pulp comic imagery, the overall project simply doesn’t feel as substantial as it wants to be.
I’ll give this three and a half ice castles out of five. Fire and Ice is really only for those that are big fantasy or animation fans.