Wizards, movie (1977) - Film review by KadmonWizards, movie (1977) - Film review by Kadmon
image © Bakshi Studio

Article updated: 2021.05.06

The Wizards (1977) is an animated fantasy film with futuristic elements. The movie was reviewed by Kadmon.

Product: Wizards, movie (1977)

Series: -

Setting: far future of Earth

Product type: Film, Genre: Fantasy, Style: fantasy, futuristic, post-apocalyptic, animation, animated movie

Release: 1977.02.09 theatrical release

Reviewer: Kadmon, Type: Male, 40s, Preferences: Immersive, logical story, consistent setting, prefers surprises to spoilers, prefers establishing elements before referencing them

Watched: very recent (2020.06), first time

Rating: Weak (2- out of 3 points), Enjoyment: Weak (2- out of 3 points)

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This is my review of Wizards, an animated fantasy movie from 1977. It's about a good wizard trying to defeat an evil wizard. The Wizards film is strange, and I didn't really like it.

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Review (spoiler-free) - Wizards movie

I've been hearing about the Wizards film for a long time. The first time I remember was a review of the Wizards RPG in an old Dragon Magazine. However, since I didn't like the art style, nor the strange themes, I was not particulary interested in rushing to watch the movie. When I had the opportunity though, I watched if finally. I probably didn't watch the trailer, at least I don't remember any of that.

The Wizards animated movie is about a good wizard trying to defeat an evil wizard, who wants to conquer the world.

I'm not sure who is the target audience of this film. It's too dark and frightening for children, yet, it's too childish for adults. There are some comedic inserts, but I didn't find them funny.

The animation styles are a mess. There are multiple drawing styles in the same sequence, and sometimes stills or real life footage was inserted. If you watch the trailer, imagine watching it for 60 more times, and you can estimate how would you like watching that. In this article I've gathered images that belong to the art styles I liked, except for the opening image that's more charactereristic to the film.

The story of the Wizards cartoon is the usual "good vs evil", but I feel that is okay for a film like this.

The music is probably okay, but I don't remember it.

The trailer is good, it's a good indication of what will you get if you watch the movie, yet it doesn't unveil too much of the plot. If the trailer makes you interested, you might like watching the whole film, as you'll get exactly what you see in the trailer.

My experience

I didn't like watching this animated movie. The art was a mess, the structure was incoherent. However, I don't consider watching it a wasted time, because there were many elements that were interesting.

Rating: Weak (2- out of 3 points). The movie is watchable, but barely.

Enjoyment: Weak (2- out of 3 points). I didn't enjoy watching the Wizards cartoon. I didn't like the animation, and I didn't like the story either.

Rewatchability: Good question. If you liked it for the first time, I think you'll like it for multiple times.

Chance of watching it again: Nope. It took me some time to gather the bravery to watch it once, and my insincts were justified.

Chance of watching a sequel: High. I'd sure watch it.

Wizards, movie (1977) - Film review by KadmonWizards, movie (1977) - Film review by Kadmon
image © Bakshi Studio

Will you enjoy this?

If you are a fan of Ralph Bakshi movies, give Wizards (1977) a try. You probably won't be disappointed.

If you like fairy tale like fantasy movies, you might like the Wizards cartoon. Keep in mind that there are also some adult themes.

If you like post-apocalyptic movies, you might be interested in this.

If you like fantasy with technological elements, this might be the right movie for you.

If you prefer your fantasy or futuristic movies in their pure form, you'll be disappointed in the Wizards animated movie.

If you prefer fun family movies, Wizards is not for you, it's full of bloody massacres, and visual depiction of violence.

If you abhor the idea of fairy prostitutes, or elven sex slaves, you should avoid the Wizards film.

If you hate movies that depict Adolf Hitler as a possible role model, you should probably skip watching Wizards (1977).

Watching for plot points

There's not much of a plot, most of the story is the typical fantasy quest, or struggle against the elements.

Wizards, movie (1977) - Film review by KadmonWizards, movie (1977) - Film review by Kadmon
image © Bakshi Studio

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Review with spoilers - Wizards animated movie

The Wizards animated cartoon is a strange movie.

An intestesting point I've seen in other reviews that people came to the conclusion that there are the good fairies who use magic, and there are the evil mutants who use technology, who want to kill magic users. In the film, however, the fairies are far from good, there's even combat between our group of heroes and some fairies. The fairies are just as likely to use technology, if they are able to, and we see that they revere ancient technology as their religion. The mutants might be considered "evil", but they live in places where there's still radiactivity and their babies are dying due to this, so they are probably just desperate to get out of those places. Their campaign against magic is also interesting, as they are lead by a magic user. In the beginning, it is stated that there's a war between technology and magic, but we don't get to know more about that.

Promise of the first scene

We get exposition about the past of the setting. It is established that there's a good wizard and an evil wizard who are battling. The story will most likely deal with these two.

Execution: Indeed it did.

Plot summary / Synopsis

After a nuclear apocalypse, an evil wizard (Blackwolf) rules a desolate land (the Scortch), where only mutants live. The evil wizard tries to take over the world with his mutant army, and ancient 20th century technology. The fairy folk, who live in the habitable places (Montagar) tries to hinder his advances. The evil wizard sends an assassin (Necron 99) to kill the leader of the free nations. The assassin succeeds, but he is captured by the good wizard (Avatar). The good wizard turns the assassin into his ally (renaming Necron to Peace), to lead him into the fortress of the evil wizard. The good wizard is accompanied by the leader of the elves (Weehawk), and the daughter of the assassinated leader (Elinore). They run into mischievous fairies (lead by king Sean), who capture them, and they have to fight their way out of their land. The daughter kills the ex-assassin and joins the army of the evil wizard, to the surprise of everyone (although they show us that magic was involved). The good wizard and the elf leader reach the fortress of the evil wizard. The elf leader finds the daughter, and she tells him that she was possessed by the evil wizard. The good wizard and the evil wizard prepares for a magical duel, when the good wizard pulls a gun and kills the evil wizard. The evil army is immediately destroyed. The leader of the elves returns to his people, while the good wizard decides to settle in with the president's daughter.

The setting

The Wizards film is set in the far future of Earth, after a nuclear war wiped out most of humanity. The survivors were split in two, the fairy folk lived in the good places (Montagar), while the mutants lived in the radioactive parts (the Scortch). After thousands of years of peace, two wizards were born by the queen of faeries (Delia), one became good (Avatar), leader of the fairy folk, and the other one is evil (Blackwolf), who rules the mutants. The two wizards started to fight each other. The evil wizard has a problem, because his army doesn't have the right kind of initiative, so in the past thousands of years he wasn't able to succeed in any conquering. Now that he recovered Nazi propaganda films, this might change. (It did, and it also lead to his demise.)

The mutants of the radioactive wastelands are depicted as evil, but they are actually less agressive and less warlike than their fairy counterparts. It might be because they are malnourished, and that affects their development both pre-natally, and after that. Radiation is also constantly bombarding their immune system. The mutants probably don't care about fighting, their own fight for survival most likely occupies their thoughts completely. It took a leader, who came from the faeries, to make them raise an army, and even thousands of years of training couldn't make them effective soldiers.

The fairies on the other hand seem to be fighting themselves even for small attrocities, and they seem to be quite adept at waging war. The faeries have the advantage of fertile lands and magic, yet they withhold their goods from the mutants, so it looks to me that the antagonists in this setting are the faeries, who, in the end crush the uprising of the oppressed mutants.

The message of the story

I'm not sure there's any message in Wizards (1977). "Might makes right"? "Out of two armies, the army of the more prosperous nation will win"? Or maybe "don't trust wizards". Or "Nazi propaganda is effective".

The structure of the story

The story is played in sequence, with some flashbacks and unrelated scenes thrown into it. It has the usual arc of the dramatic structure - beginning, action, resolution.

Parts of the story are shown in narrated slideshows.

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Things I liked

  • I liked two of the animation styles (the shots with Ian Miller's backgrounds, and some of Frazetta-like style, probably from Mike Ploog). The rotoscoped animation was an interesting addition.
  • I liked the twist ending.
  • I liked their two legged beasts of burden.

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How does it compare to the other works of the creators?

I don't know much about the works of the writer/director (Ralph Bakshi). I've seen his version of The Lord of the Rings, but that was a long time ago (in the early 1990s). As I remember, I didn't like that one either.

Update: After watching the Wizards cartoon, I've had the opportunity to also watch Fire & Ice, and overall that was probably a more enjoyable movie, although I prefer the basic concept and setting of Wizards a lot more.

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Wizards, movie (1977) - Film review by KadmonWizards, movie (1977) - Film review by Kadmon
image © Bakshi Studio

Problems with the story - Wizards movie

The title is not especially interesting, although the film really deals with wizards. Probably something that would show us something more specific might be more fitting. Basically anything that would make the title stand out. Even something bland like "Wizards of the Apocalypse" would give us something to grab the idea of the plot.

Although it's nothing special, I was satisfied with the main story. It was the side-stories that I would have trimmed. Those parts allowed to expand the setting of the story, but I would have preferred if those were integrated into the main storyline.

Also, I didn't like the very mixed art style.

Unanswered questions

Why did the good wizard need the ex-assassin's guideance, when he got to the fortress of evil even without him?

Why did the good wizard started the duel in the end, instead of searching for the magical device, as he planned? If he'd lost the direct confrontation, all is lost. He could have come back to defeat the evil wizard after destroying the device.

What happens to the wife and child of the evil wizard in the end?

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Possibilities of improvement

Probably cutting the side-stories that weren't really part of the wizard's quest.

How it could have been better?

Cutting the side-stories. Only keep the scenes with the good wizard and the evil wizard.

Using a unified art style might have improved it, especially if it wouldn't have been the childish one, that was used for most of the animated movie. I didn't feel that Elf-Quest style art would be fitting to a post-apocalyptic war story.

Wizards, movie (1977) - Film review by KadmonWizards, movie (1977) - Film review by Kadmon
image © Bakshi Studio

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Uses for the film - Wizards (1977) movie

Plot

  • Wizard using technology to defeat his enemies as a twist.
  • An evil force using Nazi propaganda to make their armies more efficient.

Scenes

  • The scenes of battle can be used to depict fantasy battles. They lack the detail most movies show, so they ara useful for generic fantasy battles.
  • The scenes showing the land of the evil wizard look cool, they are good depicting for dark fantasy scenes.

Scenarios

  • One force is held captive, without their equipment, surrounded by the members of the other force, who have their own weapons. Suddenly, one of the captives activates a hidden power or hidden gadget to gain extra abilities, and frees the captives. They must leave the area. As a secondary mission, they can recover their original equipment that was taken from them.
  • To complete an effect (magic spell or tech gadget), one of the characters has to touch the target person. If they touch it (and attach the gadget), the objective is complete, and the next scenario will be easier to achieve.
  • A team succesfully got into the headquarters of the opposing force. To be succesful, they can either destroy a device that would stop the progress of the opposing force, or kill the opposing leader, who happens to be on the other side of the base. If they kill the leader, they win the whole campaign.

Miniatures - 1/50-1/60 (28-32mm scale)

Avatar: A typical good wizard, with a cone hat and beard. Bonus point if it has a handgun.

Blackwolf: A typical evil wizard, with a beard.

Necron 99 / Peace: You could use a futuristic soldier, with biker googles, if you find one.

Faeries: Most fantasy games have elves and faeries.

Mutants: Any kind of futuristic soldier, with a head in gas mask. For example Astra Militarum models, with Death Corps heads.

Riding lizards: Crodlus for Dark Sun by Ral Partha. Or any kind of bipedal toy dinosaur.

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Similar stories - Wizards (1977) animated cartoon

Setting

Cherubion: A post-apocalyptic Earth, with factions of magical people, technology using people, and faery-like people. The first novels were written by Nemes István, and there are sequels by multiple authors, comics, game books, and a board game.

Gamma World: A post-apocalyptic world, inhabited by strange mutants. It is a role-playing game, with several editions.

Masters of the Universe: Post-apocalyptic fantasy world, with magic and technology. There are comics, animated series, even a live-action film.

Comics

Elfquest: The art style is very similar to the art style of the Wizards cartoon.

Movies

Krull: It's also futuristic fantasy, and the story is similar in a way that heroes get together to defeat the big bad.

Legend: Similar story, with forces of good trying to defeat the forces of evil.

Masters of the Universe: It's also futuristic fantasy, with the good forces using more magic and the evil forces using more technology.

The Lord of the Rings (1978): The animation style is very similar. Also made by Ralph Bakshi.

Willow: The story is similar in a way that random people get together to defeat an evil wizard.

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Frequently asked questions - Wizards film

What is the Wizards movie?

Wizards is an animated post-apocalyptic fantasy movie, released in 1977. It was written and directed by Ralph Bakshi.

What's up with the scene where a minion is killed, and the other starts shouting "They've killed Fritz"?

Fritz the Cat was Ralph Bakshi's first feature film. The character of Fritz was created by Robert Crumb, who was so dissatisfied with the animated movie that he killed Fritz in the comics. The Fritz scene in Wizards is Bakshi's comment on this.

When was Wizards created?

The Wizards cartoon was released in 1977, and it was created in that year, and some times before that.

Is there a sequel to the Wizards animated movie?

There were plans for a sequel for Wizards (1977), but it never got made.

Is the Wizards movie related to the Wizards: Tales of Arcadia series?

No, the Wizards film has no relation to the Wizards cartoon series from Netflix, although both are animated fantasy stories about wizards.

Is the Wizards film related to The Wizard movie from 1989?

No, it might sound like The Wizard (1989) could be a prequel to Wizards (1977), but it's not the case. The two films don't have any relations.

The Elfquest comics look very similar to the Wizards cartoon. Were the comics inspired by the Wizards film?

Indeed they were. Wendy Pini, the creator of Elfquest, was working as an artist on the Wizards movie. Later, Wendy and Richard Pini were contacted to draw comics for Wizards. When the comics were cancelled, they went on to publish Elfquest, in a similar style of graphics. [source: Cartoon Brew]

The comics of Vaughn Bodē (Cheech Wizard, Cobalt 60) look very similar to the Wizards 1977 movie. Were those comics an inspiration to the Wizards film?

Ralph Bakshi certainly knew about the Cheech Wizard and Cobalt 60 comics of Vaughn Bodē, and it's easy to see the similarities in Avatar and Necron / Peace.

Where can I watch Wizards? / Is Wizards on Netflix? / Is Wizards on Amazon?

As of now (2021.03.26), the Wizards cartoon can be watched on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Microsoft Movies, YouTube, Vudu. It seems to me that it was on Netflix, but I couldn' t find it.

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Resources - Wizards (1977) movie

Official

Bakshi Studio: Wizards: Official article.

Information

IMDB: Wizards (1977): Database article.

Letterboxd: Wizards 1977: Database article about the Wizards cartoon.

Rotten Tomatoes: Wizards: Database article.

TVTropes: Western Animation / Wizards: Database article.

WikiPedia: Wizards (film): Database article.

Creation

Cancelled Movies Wiki: Wizards 2: Article about the cancelled sequel.

Ian Miller: Wizards: Article about his background images used in the Wizards cartoon.

Vincent Randle (for drawn to Imagination): WIZARDS with Ian Miller: Article about the art of Ian Miller used in the Wizards film.

Reviews with no spoilers - Wizards movie

Alfred Eaker: DIRECTOR RETROSPECTIVE: RALPH BAKSHI: Review article about Wizards (film) with no spoilers. Includes reviews of his other movies.§

Chandler Swain Reviews: Nights at the Sack Cinemas: Review article of the Wizards movie with no spoilers.

Chandler Swain Reviews: Conjuring a Sense of Blunder: “Wizards” (1977): Review article, shorter summary of the above article.

Chris Rebholz (for Flick Direct): WIZARDS BLU-RAY REVIEW: Review article about Wizards (film) with no spoilers.ß

Dave (for 2,500 Movies Challenge): #1,544. Wizards (1977): Review article of the Wizards film with minor spoilers.§

Dave Sindelar (for Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings): Wizards (1977): Short review article about Wizards (1977 film) with no spoilers.

Erik Dansereau (for deluxevideoonline): Wizards: Cult animation at it’s best: Review article of the Wizards 1977 film with no spoilers.§

James Plath (for Movie Metropolis): WIZARDS – Blu-ray review: Review article about Wizards (1977 film) with no spoilers. Includes information about the 35th Anniversary Blu-Ray.§

Jean-Luc Sarris (for The MacMahonian): Wizards Blu-ray Review: Short review article about Wizards (1977 film) with no spoilers.

Jonathon Pernisek (for CineBomb): Wizards: Review article of the Wizards animated film with minor spoilers.§

JPRoscoe (for BasementRejects): Wizards (1977): Review article about Wizards (film) with minor spoilers, not more than the trailer.§

Mark Cole (for Rivets on the Poster): Wizards (1977): Short review article of the Wizards movie with no spoilers.§

Mike Gencarelli (for MediaMikes): Blu-ray Review “Wizards: 35th Anniversary Edition”: Short review article about Wizards (1977 film) with no spoilers. Includes information about the 35th Anniversary Blu-Ray.§

Mitch Lovell (for The Video Vacuum): WIZARDS (1977) *: Short review article about Wizards (1977 film) with no spoilers.§

Obscure Film: WIZARDS (1977): Review article of the Wizards film with no spoilers.§

Peter Fuller (for Kultguy's Keep): Wizards (1977) | Rediscover Ralph Bakshi’s trailblazing animated fantasy: Review article of the Wizards movie with no spoilers.§

Peter Hanson (for Every '70s Movie): Wizards (1977): Review article of the Wizards movie with no spoilers.ß

Phil Hubbs (for Hubbs Movie Reviews): Wizards (1976): Review article of the Wizards film with minor spoilers.§

Psychostasy of the Film's reviews of Wizards cartoon:

Reid (for Films in Boxes): Wizards (1977): Short review article about Wizards (film) with no spoilers.§

Rip Jagger (for Rip Jagger's Dojo): Bakshi's Wizards!: Short review article about Wizards (1977 film) with no spoilers.§

Rob Vaux (for The Sci-Fi Movie Page): WIZARDS (35TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION) [BLU-RAY] (1977): Review video of the Wizards film, with minor spoilers. Includes information about the 35th Anniversary Blu-Ray.

Stephen Porter (for Silver Emulsion): Stephen reviews: Wizards (1977): Review article of the Wizards movie with minor spoilers.

Taryn McCabe (for Little White Lies): What can we learn today from Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards?: Review article of the Wizards 1977 movie with no spoilers.

Tesla (for This Mortal Coil): Wizards (1977): Short review article of the Wizards animated movie with no spoilers.§

Tim Brayton (for Alternate Ending): My ugly, dark, twisted fantasy: Review article of the Wizards movie with no spoilers.

Tylerandjack (for For It Is Man's Number): Wizards (1977): Review article of the Wizards film with no spoilers.§

West Anthony (for Battleship Pretension): Home Video Hovel - Wizards, by West Anthony: Review article about Wizards (film) with minor spoilers.§

Reviews with spoilers - Wizards animated movie

Brandon Tenold: Brandon's Cult Movie Reviews: WIZARDS: Review video of the Wizards film, with spoilers.

Budd Wilkins (for Slant Magazine): Blu-ray Review: Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards on Fox Home Entertainment: Review video of the Wizards film, with spoilers. Includes information about the 35th Anniversary Blu-Ray.ß

David Beckett (for MyReviewer.com): Wizards: Review article of the Wizards cartoon movie, with spoilers. Includes information about the 35th Anniversary Blu-Ray.

HistoryisAwesomeGuy: Wizards (1977) Review: Review article of the Wizards movie, with spoilers.

James Ryan (for REBEAT): FANTASIA OBSCURA: An Enchanting Fantasy Or a Not So Magical Animation?: Review video of the Wizards film, with spoilers. Includes plot summary for the first half of the film.§

Mark David Welsh: Wizards (1977): Review article of the Wizards film, with spoilers.§

Neil Sharpson (for unshavedmouse): Wizards (1977): Review article of the Wizards animated movie, with spoilers.

Off The Shelf Reviews: Wizards - Off The Shelf Reviews: Review video of the Wizards film, with spoilers.

Rick Diehl (for His name is Studd): 1977 - Wizards: Review article of the Wizards 1977 movie, with spoilers. Includes a detailed plot summary of the beginning of the film. Shows some of the artistic sources for the character designs.

R.L. Shaffer (for IGN): Wizards Blu-ray Review: Review article of the Wizards movie, with spoilers. Includes information about the 35th Anniversary Blu-Ray.

Tasha Robinson (for AV Club): Wizards: Review article of the Wizards film, with spoilers.§

Valient Himself (for Valient's Vloggg): bad/awesome flixxx review: Wizards (1977): Review article of the Wizards (film), with spoilers. Includes plot summary.§

Reviews with spoilers - Wizards animated movie - German

Hannes (for Hannes' Filmarchiv): Wizards / Die Welt in 10 Millionen Jahren (in German): Review article of the Wizards (film), with spoilers, in German.§

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Buying the product - Wizards 1977 movie

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Have you seen the Wizards 1977 film? How do you like the animated movie? Would you recommend the Wizards cartoon to others? Do you know reviews or resources you'd like to add? What further thoughts do you have about it? Tell your opinion in the comments!

 

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