Sunday, March 26, 2006

Fire and Ice: Not a new mint, but some sweet eye candy

The animated progeny of Ralph Bakshi and Frank Frazetta has recently been released on DVD by Blue Underground. (Relatively recently: at the end of last year, fall-ish). And is it worth the bite? Definitely.

First, you need to excuse the story...heavily. After a lengthy exposition in the beginning, there is virtually no interesting plot remaining: Ice guys hate Fire guys, Ice guys kidnap fire girl, scene. There are, seriously, approximately fifteen lines of dialogue after this; I'm not kidding. But be lenient, 'cause there are a lot of other delights hidden within the film.

First of all, there's the amazing rotoscoping. "What is rotoscoping?" you may ask. Well, when you rotoscope you shoot, on film or video, footage of flesh and blood actors performing the required action for a scene. Then, an animator somehow traces the image to use as a reference for their animation - occasionally exaggerating or emphasizing the action according to the desired product. In Fire and Ice, they rotoscoped with photocopied images that they traced with paper. Some people trace over a projected image. In the upcoming film A Scanner Darkly animators digitally painted over the image in their computers. (This also happened in Waking Life).

Okay, so now that you know what rotoscoping is, know that rotoscoped films look GREAT! There is a realism, particularly when characters perform turn-arounds or 360 degree movements, that is fascinating to watch. Fire and Ice is rotoscoped, then had a Frank Frazetta stylization applied to the character design which made the images extra tasty.

If you don't know who Frank Frazetta is, he is the wonderful realistic-style fantasy illustrator that was responsible for the Conan the Barbarian films being made - without his inspiring book covers the series wouldn't have sold, and the craze for sword and sandals wouldn't have come about (again, before fading) during the eighties. That's just one of his accomplishments. Go google the man. He's, well, the man.

But back to Fire and Ice.

To sum up, in this film you will see:

Man ass. Lots of it. Don't be scared, though, you homophobic guys, 'cause there is plenty of lady booty and booby lying around, too. Even a brief wet T-shirt contest-type scene. Essentially, the female protagonist was made to get captured, and flash her charms all across the jungle. Be prepared to be disappointed in her: despite her early claims of wanting to kick some ass, she is far from being an ass-kicker.

Apart from the booty, it gets bloody! Witness violence, also lots of it. The action is constant in this film, and decently graphic, but not gory for the faint of heart. Look out for a Batman-type guy with a jaguar hat - he's the strong, silent type willing to go up against fifty baddies without breaking a sweat. Intimidated? You should be! He's wearing a jaguar hat!

All the female characters will disappoint you, including the interesting witch in the hut. Her acting is bizarre, and she saddened me in all sorts of ways: namely, I wanted to see at least ONE bad ass chica, to no avail.

Neat fact: Thomas Kincade, the "painter of light," painted some of the backgrounds in this violent, panty-flashing epic. Good for you, Tommy!

So go out and rent it or buy it before, like the jaguars, this film is extinct (this Blue Underground release was a limited run). The artistry and technique of the film make it cinematic artwork at its finest. The violence and sexy anatomy make it easy to watch - despite the lack of an interesting story.

This post was previously published at

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