10. Wizards by Ralph Bakshi.  Before Peter Jackson, animator Ralph Bakshi tried his hand at bringing Tolkien’s triology to the big screen.  It was a glorious disaster, and unfortunately, Bakshi was never able to finish it.  The movie ended just after the battle of Helm’s Deep, dealt nothing with the journey of Frodo and Sam, and looked a lot like rush hour at Grand Central Station if the riders were orcs rather than commuters.

Avatar and Elinor share a moment

To make the money necessary for his try at the Lord Of The Rings, Bakshi released Wizards in 1977.  At this time, Bakshi had a reputation as a bad-boy animator because of his X-rated rendering of Fritz The Cat, which in retrospect was probably not that prurient.

Wizards is the story of two wizards, twins, born to the elven queen far in the Earth’s future.  Black Wolf  lives in the ruined land of Scorch, envying and hating his brother Avatar, who lives in the peaceful and pleasant land of Montagar.  Black Wolf rises the mutant inhabitants of Scorch against the elven inhabitants of Montagar, only to find that his legions have no spirit for the fight.   Black Wolf digs deeply into a terrible period in human history to inspire his minions.  How Avatar counters him is my favorite ending in all of fantasy cinema.

It is well-drawn and well-written, and if you like zaftig elven maidens in flimsy gowns, this is a movie just for you.

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