Bakshi, Barbarians, and Buffalo Shots

Hold onto your broadswords, because Fire and Ice is (probably not) the Greatest Movie EVER!

Click on the movie poster or the title above to download our review of the film, featuring Gerald “Badonkadonk” Rathkolb of AnimeWorldOrder.

Review in a Nutshell:  With an uninspiring storyline and an odd visual aesthetic, Fire and Ice skates by on the strengths of Frank Frazetta’s design.  Be warned:  negative stereotypes and gratuitous booty abound.

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21 Responses

  1. firsties, just jking paul do you have a ds. I would think you would considering you are an anime fan and such.

  2. Another videotape I saw back in the day at the good old video store that I never had the guts to rent, although I liked the cover. I noticed this is on Netflix so I’ll have to check it out.

  3. I think I saw this on VHS in ’84, and occasionally wonder if I ought to revisit it. Thank you for doing it on my behalf.

    Rotoscoping isn’t necessarily faster than traditional animation (there is, after all, the added factor of getting actors on film, hardly a timesaving process) but when you remove the need for animators to construct a drawing from the inside out you can pay them less. In fact, you can hire less experienced animators; wouldn’t surprise me if the crew for this film consisted of students. The tradeoff is that anyone who doesn’t have a complete working knowledge of figure drawing will lack the nuance of an experienced animator and the finished work will follow suit.

    The result is what you describe, Paul; as art, it feels disconnected and artificial. But the fluidity of the live-action is still there as an undercurrent. The combination of the two lands such a project somewhere in the uncanny valley, where everyone feels creeped out and dirty for watching it.

  4. Paul – when I heard your comments about DiD females, flamingly gay villains, ethnic minions and Eurocentric male heroes on this week’s show, I turned to Tammy (who’s been writing fantasy in reaction to all that since the early Eighties) and said, “Wow! So news of Women’s Lib and the Civil Rights Movement finally made it to Florida!”

    You really need to move to the Northeast – or to paraphrase TOP GEAR’s Jeremy Clarkson, “The Free World”….

  5. Paul – you want to do another Bakshi movie, I’d recommend AMERICAN POP. I think it’s his best animated feature, and probably the only unreservedly good one he ever did – the one time where his talent outstripped his desire to be provocative.

  6. American Pop…Good!? I think that was his best ATTEMPT to be good, but come on, the moral of that is, “sell drugs to be successful.” And also, it’s an American history of music with no black people. Even then, MAYBE it could be his best, but American Pop is still a very bad movie.

  7. Gerald – it was the multi-generational saga of a Russian Jewish family in the music industry. Maybe after the highly negative initial reaction to COONSKIN, Bakshi is leery about writing Black people again – because no matter how he portrays them, he’s going to get jumped for “racism” by people who’d never seen the movie.

    As for the “sell drugs to rich people” – now you’re just being snide. It was in keeping with Bakshi’s dark&gritty view of the history of pop music that the only way Pete could get a foot in the door of the family business was to exploit his position as a dealer.

    Look, if you don’t like Bakshi, you don’t like Bakshi. Certainly his attempts at being “epic” resemble the late Molly Ivins’s “A mile wide and an inch deep” crack about H. Ross Perot – which is readily apparent in AMERICAN POP. But nobody else in American animation has tried to hard to drag animated features into adulthood – even if his version of it resembles Sixties White Male counterculturalism.

  8. In reply to Gerald’s comment about rotoscoping in anime, the Asuka fight scene in EOE is not rotoscoped. It’s handled by Mitsuo Iso who draws every frame himself and is considered a genius among Japanese animators. The way he animates by manipulating the number of frames per second and doing it all himself (“full limited”) is key to the final result of super realistic animation.

    The same thing applies to Jin-Roh. The animation isn’t rotoscoped.The animators involved (Tetsuya Nishio being the main animation director, and Toshiyuki Inoue being the second in command) are just that good.

  9. I clearly don’t understand how English works. Delete the previous comment. It has MISSING ARTICLES.

    Regarding the question of how difficult it must have been to not just film essentially an entire live-action movie movie but then draw over it, the answer is “very.” Here’s an interview conducted with Ralph Bakshi over the weekend at the place that physically embodies the feeling you get when watching his films, Dragon*Con:

    http://geek-news.mtv.com/2011/09/06/dragon-con-mtv-geek-interviews-animation-legend-ralph-bakshi/

    Man. He is the most down-to-Earth, chill dude. Who makes the crappiest stuff. Clearly, Ralph Bakshi is the Rob Liefeld of animation.

    Timothy Liebe: Putting aside your past anti-Stallone heresies, the problem with the tone of your reply (well, I guess it was Tamora’s) to Paul’s observations is that it carries with it an implication of the same kind of regional elitism “we’re enlightened and they’re a bunch of backwater rubes” mentality which helped fuel much of the problematic imagery of sword-and-sandal fantasy discussed. I’d be willing to bet that nobody “only just noticed this stuff,” but speaking as someone who does not care for fantasy fiction in part because the fans are insufferable, that type of content is something I notice and don’t actually care about because I’m more focused on the fighting, visuals, and whether or not Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman will prevail over the scary ghosts.

    I’m all for non-Eurocentric/non-male/non-straight/etc leading heroes, but the problem is that everything I get pointed to as an example of something where that’s NOT the case comes off as dull because they feel like the writer is more interested in going “HEY GUYS CHECK ME OUT BEING PROGRESSIVE AND INCLUSIVE” than actually telling an interesting story. I say just have these characters be there as a matter of course such that everyone’s reaction to their being in the place they are is “no substantial reaction,” and get on with the task at hand. See: the Fast and the Furious series. Fast Five is right up there with Drive Angry and Hobo/Robo With a Shotgun as far as being the Most Dangerous Films of 2011.

    Perhaps that’s the trouble with making fantasy too socially aware. After a while it’s no longer “fantasy” enough. Certainly, “Tammy’s” work is put up on high by the types of people who link to the Women in Reasonable Armor Tumblr, but every time I look at that Terrier cover I think “man…Beka Cooper looks like a member of the Best Buy Geek Squad. In fact, I’m pretty sure I have that same outfit and am roughly the same height/weight.” And then I keep walking past, over to the manga and comics shelves.

  10. Wow, Surratt – nice work judging Tammy’s work based on the covers which (surprise!) she doesn’t draw herself without actually, you know, reading any of it. Why do I have a feeling you gave just as much consideration to all that other “boring” “non-Eurocentric/non-male/non-straight/etc.” fantasy on your way to the comics and manga shelves?

    Oh, and Tammy says to tell you she, despite being a woman, managed to somehow dodge out of the way of those patronizing head-pats you tried to give her.

    MASTIFF will be out in a month – you can either give it a read to see if it lives up to your prejudices about Not Your Fantasy, or you can just not bother because hey! Beka doesn’t look like some big-busted babe you can drool over….

  11. As this forum is tumbling into most dangerous manchild wailing as evidenced by the post above me I will keep it brief. To this day I still have not seen a single Ralph Bakshi film all the way through, mostly due to his films having such a distinctly mixed reaction that I approach his stuff with both a sense of fascination and trepidation.

    Out of all his works though, this film does at the very least look like his most accessible. Me being the kind of guy who loves to dabble in these slices of sword and sorcery hokum wouldnt mind getting the Blue Underground Blu Ray just to see the rough aesthetic of the film in HD. Good to have Gerald back on the show too.

  12. This is why I don’t relish the idea of covering more of Bakshi’s films on the podcast. It invariably seems to bring out the worst in people in the comments section, be it Daryl’s judge-a-book-by-its-cover dismissal of the entire fantasy genre or Tim’s somewhat backhanded compliment. Let’s keep it civil, ladies and gentlemen; I don’t want this to turn into another Bob Dylan-gate. 😀

  13. “Backhanded complement”, Paul? Love the wordplay! 🙂 I’m sorry if the crack about your home state was over-the-line – I was channeling TOP GEAR’s Jeremy Clarkson there, and while I find him hilarious in his mix of yabbo and Anglophile snob, lots of people (including my wife) don’t like his sense of humor at all.

    Oddly the CONAN movies or the sword&sorcery knockoffs that came in their wake don’t seem to inspire this level of…heat. I would imagine even the Eighties (surprisingly not-Italian) GOR “adaptations” would mostly turn into a “Can you top this ?” of stupid scenes tossed back and forth between those of us brave (or chemically altered) enough to have made it through them. What is it about Bakshi that causes this, do you suppose…?

  14. wow. I’m surprised at reaction this has gotten. i wasn’t expecting this

  15. Any wordplay was purely accidental, I assure you.

    As for what causes the fractiousness regarding Bakshi, I think it’s a generational thing. If you grew up in the Sixties, you’ll have a different cultural context for Bakshi’s pet issues and peccadilloes. You might remember what it was like when “free love” and experimental drugs were all the rage, at least in America’s popular culture and the mythology of that time period. Gerald and I are children of the Eighties, though. Instead of free love, we got the Age of AIDS. And Gerald grew up in an environment where drug abuse was rampant and it destroyed lives, so he doesn’t care for what he sees as Bakshi glamorizing it.

    Plus there are some of the already mentioned issues involving Bakshi’s approach to his craft: I’ve had seriously neckbearded arguments about whether rotoscoping should even be considered animation, and long, heated discussions about Bakshi’s failings as a storyteller. Generally, the person defending Bakshi cites American Pop as his opus, but I’m not very interested in that film. So we reach an impasse, and often the same ground gets tread over and over again, going in circles, no side really convincing the other of the merits of their point of view. Almost like a religious debate.

    Don Bluth tends to cause the same problems. You’ll notice I’ve not covered much of his stuff, either.

  16. “Generally, the person defending Bakshi cites American Pop as his opus, but I’m not very interested in that film.”

    Never seen American Pop. Sounds interesting but there’s just somethng that keeps me from taking the plunge and watching it. I don’t know what it is.

  17. Clearly Bakshi is hit or miss for many people. I tend to favor his earlier work myself, specifically “Heavy Traffic”. It’s often been said one of Bakshi’s many directorial quirks is that he often doesn’t have a fixed storyboard or timing sheet available as if often does it all in his head just by flipping the pictures. Of course that probably only applied to those earlier works when he had such a tight budget not to devote most of it to pre-production.

    Tim Eldred made a good point about the kind of people Bakshi probably had on the film who aren’t too up on figure drawing to quite render these characters outside of simply tracing the film frames, a well-experienced animator with enough street cred would’ve done this film justice but Bakshi certainly didn’t have the budget to paid these guys anyway.

  18. If you decide to cover another Bakshi film, **please** consider another host other than Gerald. He sort of made his perspective on RB known the first time he was on and these films could really use another perspective. Get Tim Eldred, M.O.M., anyone else. Thanks

  19. Oh ye gods! You SKEWERED one of my favorite movies of all time! Sure, the animation is not so great, the backgrounds do not match the images, and the whole thing is a little weird, but have some consideration for what this truly is: Bakshi’s last great attempt to be heralded as the Walt Disney of the neck beard crowd.

    I kid a little, but I do love this movie. It could have been better, I give you that, but the Darkwolf scenes are worth the price of admission alone. I saw this on video disc (not laser disc, not VHS, not beta) WAAAAAAAYYYY back in the late ’80’s. As a fan of animation, and fantasy, this was akin to finding the Holy Grail for me.

    Looking back, it does not hold up, but I do love it for the happy memories it brings back for me.

    As always, your podcast was outstanding. Thank you for the vast amounts of free entertainment you have given me.

  20. why not make reviews of other Ralph Bakshi films, like “Cool World” or maybe “Heavy Traffic”? at first I was thinking “Spicy City but i dunno.

  21. We’ve already reviewed “Cool World”. http://traffic.libsyn.com/gooberzilla/coolworld102410.mp3

    Please check the Archives or the Podcast Feed. You can also use the Search field in the top right corner to look through the blog entries.

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