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Fire and Ice(1983)
It began as a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration between two of the greatest icons of the fantasy genre: Controversial animator Ralph Bakshi (director of 'Fritz the Cat', 'Wizards' and the original 'The Lord of the Rings') and legendary illustrator Frank Frazetta (creator of the iconic Conan the Barbarian, Vampirella and Edgar Rice Burroughs book covers). It became – and remains – one of the most startling animation epics of all time. Now experience a world unlike any ever seen, where savage warriors, horrific monsters and luscious maidens battle for the soul of a civilization in a time of good and evil, pleasure and pain, and Fire and Ice.
For more about Fire and Ice and the Fire and Ice Blu-ray release, see Fire and Ice Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on August 26, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Randy Norton, Cynthia Leake, Steve Sandor, Sean Hannon
Director: Ralph Bakshi
» See full cast & crew
Fire and Ice Blu-ray Review
Does this disc burn up Blu-ray, or will it leave viewers cold?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, August 26, 2009
No one dared guess at the outcome of a meeting on the field of battle between fire and ice.
The fantastical world -- the nether regions of Earth where odd beings and magical powers are as commonplace as the sword and musclebound heroes -- is a staple of modern fiction. From The Lord of the Rings to The Chronicles of Narnia, from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad to Conan the Barbarian, the heroes, villains, creatures, wizardry, and mystical realms continue to enchant audiences with timeless tales of high adventure, might and magic, unparalleled heroics, and disdainful villainy that make for the ultimate in escapist entertainment. Seeing a resurgence now with the incredible popularity of the filmed adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's masterworks, the genre enjoyed another peak in the late 1970s and early 1980s where the fantastical was to be found in stories set both eons into the past and centuries into the future, with television programing like "He-Man" and "Buck Rogers" both incorporating genre elements into their amazing worlds. In 1983, Ralph Bakshi, director of the controversial Fritz the Cat, and legendary Fantasy illustrator Frank Frazetta teamed up for an animated feature-length Fantasy original, Fire and Ice, a completely clichéd tale that stays within the lines of genre basics and that plays out as nothing more than an extended-length Saturday morning cartoon with virtually nothing of substance to offer that couldn't be found on channel 4 at 8:00 AM, and at a third of the runtime.
The evil Juliana wants to rule the world. With the help of her son, Nekron, who has been trained in the dark arts, and an army of brainless subhuman minions, she has managed to extend her ice kingdom over virtually the entire world, and only a small band of survivors remain deep inside Firekeep. There, King Jarol receives a peace envoy from Juliana's court, but trickery is afoot; it's but an elaborate hoax meant to secure the kidnapping of the king's daughter, Teegra. Fortunately for her, she manages escape and teams up with a warrior, Larn, a sole survivor from his village torn apart by Juliana's ice. No sooner do they come together to return to Firekeep and make a desperate last stand, they are again separated with Teegra once again falling into enemy hands. Larn teams up with the mysterious Darkwolf for a chance to retrieve Teegra and stop Juliana and Nekron once and for all.
Fire and Ice treads all-too-familiar ground. Its animation style doesn't stray far from the look of a typical 1980s Saturday morning cartoon. The film does incorporate the Rotoscope technique -- a process that animates live-action footage -- and it appears as consistently well-drawn, fluid, and generally beautiful, and whether the action is taking place in murky swamps or an ice castle, the animation style does well to set a tone for the picture, even if that tone seems flip-flopped with fire representing "good" and ice "evil" (though a partway similar situation holds true in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe). No matter the film's take on fire and ice, good and evil, light and dark, it all boils down to an incredibly basic structure with formulaic and wholly one-dimensional characters. Fire and Ice features a scantily-clad heroine; a musclebound blonde hero; a mysterious sidekick; a spineless king; and singleminded villains with an army of brainless minions at their beck and call. Motivations are tossed to the wayside here; other than the basics of forcing an evil will on a populace and the heroic struggle to return good to its proper place, there's nothing happening here that truly matters in the grand scheme of the plot; every development is but a means to keep the movie going for the sake of getting it to the end.
Though the basics of the story don't stray even a millimeter away from convention, the film does slightly up the ante for violence. Axes to the chest, spears through the heart, and knives to the gut are commonplace throughout Fire and Ice and are maybe a touch more aggressive than what a five-year-old might have expected to see in the 1980s on early morning television, but the violence stops there. There's nary a drop of blood spilled throughout the picture, and the most "grotesque" imagery to be found lies in a scene featuring Larn and Teegra munching on some raw meat that's still on the bone. Perhaps that's Fire and Ice's most egregious downfall. It's too conventional, seemingly too afraid to push boundaries, too timid to splatter the screen in blood. For a story that's so incredibly basic, amped-up animated violence seems the perfect selling point for a movie that otherwise doesn't have one (unless an animated princess wearing about three inches worth of clothes counts), but alas, Fire and Ice instead plays out with a style that's barely more risky than any Saturday cartoon.
Fire and Ice Blu-ray, Video Quality
Fire and Ice features a well-done 1080p, 1.78:1-framed transfer. Perhaps the most noticeable trait of the image is the avalanche of white speckles that cover most every frame. They seem inherent to the image and not a flaw of the transfer. They're clearly visible throughout but don't necessarily represent a great distraction to the overall viewing experience. Otherwise, this is another solid effort from Blue Underground. Colors are strong, particularly as seen in the tidal wave of red-hot lava at the end of the film. From the murky landscapes to more polished and bright interiors, the transfer offers a consistently solid color palette that won't be confused with a Pixar movie but looks just fine for an animated feature that's pushing 30 years of age. Lines are smooth, the 1080p resolution brings out the finer nuances of the animation, and there's a fine level of clarity to be seen throughout. On the whole, Fire and Ice makes for a fine Blu-ray presentation.
Fire and Ice Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Fire and Ice debuts on Blu-ray with a pair of lossless soundtracks, one each of the DTS-HD MA 7.1 and the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 varieties. Occasional comparisons between the two showed the DTS track to be quite a bit louder and more bass-happy than the Dolby TrueHD offering. The bulk of the film was screened with the DTS track, and it indeed yields impressive results. Consistently loud and aggressive, it begins strongly with the presentation of the title music that features an Adventure movie motif and serves up note after note of sonic delight, with strong clarity and hefty bass in support. When the actual film gets going, the soundtrack doesn't let up. It rivals some of the better soundtracks available on Blu-ray through its sheer force of will and aggressive sound placement. There's a barrage of rear-channel activity and loud action across the front, but the track never sacrifices clarity in the process. The ice that encroaches upon Larn's village sounds (and feels) as if it's punching through the living room floor. Such sound effects are commonplace throughout the movie and there are but few reprieves from the delightful action-adventure soundtrack. Also featuring robust dialogue reproduction, Fire and Ice delivers another top-notch lossless soundtrack for Blu-ray enthusiasts to enjoy.
Fire and Ice Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Fire and Ice arrives on Blu-ray with several extras, beginning with a commentary track featuring Lance Laspina and Producer/Director Ralph Bakshi. With Laspina leading the discussion and charting the course of the commentary, Bakshi shares the rich history behind the film, his association with Frank Frazetta, the origins of the story, the casting of the live actors that served as the basis for the animation, and much more. Animation fans will want to give this one a listen. The Making of 'Fire and Ice' (480p, 13:31) is a rough-looking and sounding vintage piece from Director Ralph Bakshi's personal VHS collection that takes a look at the process of creating the film, including the hand-drawn images and the Rotoscope process that begins with capturing the action with live actors and the process of animating it for the film. Bakshi on Frazetta (480p, 8:01) features the director speaking on his relationship with the famed illustrator. Sean Hannon's Diary Notes (480p, 14:06) features the actor that played Nekron recalling his participation in the film through a reading of his on-set memoirs. The film's theatrical trailer (1080p, 1:15) rounds out the collection of extras. This Blu-ray release of Fire and Ice is also D-Box enabled.
Fire and Ice Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
All told, Fire and Ice serves up a serious-in-tone wannabe epic adventure that makes for a passable 80 minute time waster but doesn't hold a candle to the genre's best offerings, either animated or live-action. It's competent, well-drawn, adequately-scripted, and voiced well enough, but there's no spark, no life, no real purpose behind it. As a Fantasy picture, however, it works for all that it's meant to be, a form of escapist entertainment that should satiate genre fans. Blue Underground's Blu-ray release of Fire and Ice impresses. Featuring a solid 1080p image, an incredibly robust lossless soundtrack, and a decent array of extras, Fire and Ice comes recommended as a rental for casual viewers and as a purchase for genre aficionados and longtime fans of the film.
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Fire and Ice Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - September 1st - September 1, 2009
There is a bit of controversy with one of today's releases, so I'm just going to get this out of the way as quickly as possible to avoid any further distraction. While not a horrible presentation, the Blu-ray release of ‘Gladiator' does not live up to the promise ...
• Fire and Ice Announced for Blu-ray - April 24, 2009
Blue Underground has announced that they with bring the 1983 animated film 'Fire and Ice' to Blu-ray on August 25th. Directed by Ralph Bakshi ('Fritz the Cat', 'Wizards', and the animated 'The Lord of the Rings') and featuring animator Frank Frazetta ('Conan the ...
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