Saturday, August 11, 2007

Misfire and Ice

Fire and Ice was an attempt to bring the worlds of Frank Frazetta's artwork to the movie screen. It doesn't quite work. Frazetta acted as consultant on the film and he did the character designs and lots of production drawings, but the film still doesn't possess much of the power or energy of a Frazetta painting. I think that can be summed up in one word. Rotoscoping.
If you're not familiar with them term, it means that live action footage of actors going through the motions of the cartoon characters is shot first, then that footage is traced frame by frame and turned into drawings which are then used as a guide for animation. It can be effective when used sparingly to capture small nuances of human behavior, but it tends to sacrifice exactly what animation is good at, which is exaggeration.
The characters in Fire and Ice look kind of anemic. Real people just don't look like Frazetta people. And how could they? One of the things that Frazetta is the most proud of is that he never used models for his paintings. He made it all up out of his head. It is that very visceral kind of approach that gives a Frazetta painting its considerable impact. So looking back, one has to wonder why someone thought that tracing photographs would be a good way to simulate the work of a man who doesn't use photographs for reference.
I'd summarize the plot, but as near as I could tell, there wasn't one. It's almost as if someone wanted to take a bunch of the high points from a bunch of Frazetta paintings and then link them together. Oh wait. That's what they did. Never mind.

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