Fire and Ice (1983)

Genres - Action, Adventure, Fantasy  |   Sub-Genres - Fantasy Adventure, Sword-and-Sorcery  |   Release Date - Aug 26, 1983 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 81 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Although known for his adult, urban-themed animated films like Heavy Traffic, Coonskin, and American Pop, Ralph Bakshi also had a soft spot for fantasy -- the most famous (or perhaps infamous) example being the 1978 Lord of the Rings. Five years after attempting to take on J.R.R. Tolkien's epic, Bakshi tackled a more conventional sword-and-sorcery tale in the bare-chested, monosyllabic vein of Conan the Barbarian. Teamed up with veteran comics writers Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas and prodigious fantasy artist Frank Frazetta, Bakshi should have made Fire and Ice into a sweeping, imaginative epic; instead, you get the feeling that this has all been done before. The trouble is, it has been. From the moment Larn and his people set up barriers against an unknown menace, you know his village will be decimated and that he'll go on a quest for revenge. You also know that as soon as he spots Princess Teegra in her barely-there outfit, he'll be doing a whole lot of rescuing until the inevitable fade-out with the two of them embracing. Despite its clich├ęs, it's not hard to see why Fire and Ice remains a cult favorite; the story structure is solid, and never feels sluggish. And despite Bakshi's typical use of rotoscoping -- tracing over film footage of live actors -- Frazetta's designs and Bakshi's direction occasionally provide some genuinely involving imagery.