Fire and Ice (1983)

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Released 11-Mar-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Menu Animation & Audio
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1983
Running Time 78:16 (Case: 82)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Ralph Bakshi
Studio
Distributor
Producers Sales Org
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Leo Gordon
Sean Hannon
Cynthia Leake
Case Alpha
RPI $19.95 Music William Kraft
Hemi Tabachnik


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Ralph Bakshi has brought us many interesting examples of animation, probably the most infamous being Fritz The Cat with a close second being the half-finished Lord Of The Rings (obviously infamous for very different reasons). He also directed Cool World amongst others. Fire and Ice was produced in 1983 and as with much of Bakshi's work it has a loyal cult following as well as an equal number that dislike it.

    The style of the animation is very distinctive. Based on the fantasy art of Frank Frazetta (see http://frazettaartgallery.com/ff/index.html for examples of his work - warning: nude drawings), we have a world populated by muscled heroes, incredibly voluptuous women (usually wearing only the minimum of attire), and incredibly rich and detailed backgrounds.

    Other material I have seen about this film mention Bakshi's love of rotoscoping. This is a technique where initially a sequence is acted out by real people and this is filmed. Every second frame is then printed out on an animation cel and the artists then trace over the real characters with the animated character. This again gives a distinctive feel to the animation as it is based on true human movement. Certainly parts of this film have that feel. The other interesting thing is that the IMDB claims that Fire and Ice was originally produced in 3D. I did not see the original release so cannot confirm if it was released in 3D at some point. It would certainly be interesting to see it in 3D.

    The storyline is fairly straightforward: there is an evil dark ice lord that is trying to take over the world in the distant future where another ice age has begun. The last vestiges of man have gathered around a series of volcanoes but the glaciers are slowly approaching, pushed on by the ice lord's powers. A beautiful princess is kidnapped but escapes while being transported to the ice lord. While on the run, she meets a young man, and when she is recaptured the young man vows to rescue her. He is aided in his quest by a mysterious masked man. All combatants finally meet in the final climactic battle between good and evil.

    While a simple tale, it does have a certain appeal; the simple, if slightly gory, battle between pure evil and pure good is one that can be enjoyed by not expecting too much. Far more enjoyable are the beautiful visuals in some scenes. While some may find the animation strange, the whole, including a very good musical score, is greater than the parts.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Considering the age of the material, it is in pretty good condition. There are a couple of points where the animation jumps as if there was a frame missing, such as at 33:15, but this may have been in the original. The animation quality does vary a little and sometimes it is easy to tell when a character moves from the background plane to a separate cel but again this may be due to it having originally been shot for 3D. There are a couple of other problems that I will mention here as I am not sure they belong in any of the categories below. Sometimes, especially during pans there is an effect on-screen that looks like the film was shot through a dirty plate of glass - the animation moves below the artefacts but the artefacts stay in the one spot. This can best be seen at 50:51. The second problem is that some parts of the animation, particularly moving parts, appear as transparent or overwritten by the background. If you watch the moving hands at 33:16, you will see a clear example.

    The disc is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness is pretty good overall and the shadow detail is excellent. There is a very small amount of low level noise but this will be visible only on the largest screens.

    Colours are excellent. There is a very wide and rich palette used, particularly in the backgrounds. The characters tend to be a single colour and rely on the outlines to provide their form and texture. This contrast with the background can be distracting for some but is a feature of this kind of animation.

    There are some very minor MPEG artefacts. Some of the scene changes show signs of pixelization such as at 32:58 as does the movement in the scene at 33:15. These are very minor and should not be distracting. The source is in amazing condition as far as grain is concerned with only a very minor amount of grain visible. Minor film artefacts are present with some flecks and dust motes visible but again, much less than I expected. There is some very slight aliasing present but unfortunately the worst problem is a constant telecine wobble that is present throughout the entire transfer. This became quite distracting in still scenes where it is most obvious.

    There are no subtitles and this is a single layered disc, so there is no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Whilst there is only a stereo track present on this disc, it is a very good one. While we are spoilt these days with multichannel audio, the stereo track on this disc represents the pinnacle of that technology and is a tribute to the audio engineers that produced it. Not only is the music presented in wonderful stereo with all the instruments of the orchestra in their correct physical and aural location, but the voices and effects are likewise beautifully rendered. This really is a fantastic sweeping stereo track with a very wide soundstage. It is interesting to note that engaging Pro-logic decoding completely destroyed the imaging, so leave the default stereo decoding on.

    There is a single English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack on this disc.

    Dialogue quality is excellent throughout.

    Towards the start of the disc, there are a couple of scenes where the dialogue is not quite in sync with the animation but I don't think that this is the fault of the transfer. From this point on, everything was pretty much spot on.

    The music is wonderful - a full, sweeping orchestral accompaniment to the titanic battle on screen that is well-matched to the mood and feel of the film.

    There was no surround activity.

    The subwoofer received a surprising amount of redirected material, supporting the soundtrack and the on-screen special effects. There is some quite deep and rumbling bass present for your enjoyment.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     There are no extras! Could they not have found a gallery of Frank Frazetta's work or similar to grace the extras section?

Menu

    A quite interesting animated menu with two selections, chapters and movie. Accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack the animation loop runs for 42 seconds.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    It would appear that we have the jump on Region 1 for once as I can find no information on a release over there. This is a little surprising as there are petition sites begging for the release of this feature on DVD.

Summary

    While this is a sexist and somewhat simple story aimed at the young male market (I will probably be flamed for that) it is an enjoyable romp with some great music and some beautiful fantasy art.

    The video is amazing for the age of the material.

    The audio is great.

    There are no extras.

 

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Saturday, April 20, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252Q CRT Projector, 254cm custom built 1.0 gain screen. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationSony STR-DB1070
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Young male market? - Kaiser Soze (I'm not stupid. You're not interested. But my bio is here anyway)
Where can I get the DVD? -