Ego reigns supreme in an Earth ravaged by the apocalypse. Why wouldn’t it? Where would we be without a deeply held self-belief conducting our actions and our interests? Society may crumble when the bombs drop, but the snooty, self-preservation will linger on forevermore. Wizards does an acceptable job of showcasing that, its animated flair blended with the terrors of technology and magic does make for an interesting premise. Mutants reign supreme, and we follow one such walking horror. Its childlike animation, which fits in so closely to the specifics of the 1970s are so supremely engaging, but not at all suitable for the audience of which its animation fits. One of the many reasons for its cult status there, with risqué jokes and fantastic gags on the state of war.
One scene in particular, which comes from a narration of how the war between fairies and industrialists was birthed, brings out the best scene. A completely panic-stricken soldier, avenging the “death” of his comrade, who isn’t actually dead. He puts a bullet in him and continues to mourn the loss that war has brought him. Wizards is yet another film where its attempts at comedy are dumbfounded. It is unable to compete with the accidental moments of wise wisdom and integral humour it has. Much of these rely on the animation, the framing, and the artistry on display throughout, which is marvellous. Clashing two very different worlds together, the parallels between industrialisation and medieval monsters is tremendous.
Its animated style is incredible. There is a responsible tone from Bakshi here that presents all the makings of a cult cartoon, one that will appeal to those wavering on the cusp of adulthood. Bakshi brings that Fritz the Cat sensibility with him, the bawdy characterisations of supporting characters the biggest draw he takes from his Robert Crumb adaptation. When we are old and tired and filled with the ego that infects Earth millennium after its downfall, we may be a bit hard-pressed to enjoy the sights and sounds of it all, but there is plenty to engage with in Wizards. Colourful and creative, yet also dark, brooding, and reliant on topics and tokenisms from the animated films that were released before its time.
An always-audible soundtrack and the tones it provides are fitting as we watch Peace (David Proval) scour the landscape for some little grain of hope. No such luck for quite some time, but we were always told war never changes. Wizards has no change to it. There are still two parties vying for attention and domination. One wields the weapons of old, the other present the new age of magic and fairies. Two sides do battle because that is all we need to engage with the deep, rich lore of Wizards. To its credit, it does not shackle itself to jargon, there is very little of it. Everything we see here is disturbingly comfortable. We know of nuclear war; we know of fairies and wizards. The placidity and broadness of Wizards does harm its relatability and memorability, but Bakshi and his cast cannot help but convince us of something marvellous in the works here.