Ralph Bakshi’s first whack at feature-length animated fantasy is preferable to his later Lord of the Rings, if only because it’s about an hour shorter. It also has moments of ragged Bakshi-style humor, mostly involving the wizened, tough-talking good wizard or the bumbling forces of evil. But this is pretty much straight comic-book stuff with occasional pretensions to satire. It’s not enough that the villains are obvious Nazi surrogates; Bakshi also has the evil wizard use footage of Hitler’s armies as a weapon against the good warriors. It’s possible that a cartoon primarily aimed at kids might find some legitimate use for such footage, but Wizards doesn’t exactly make a case for itself.
Eventually, the film degenerates into sub-Heavy Metal carnage, with hordes of ogres and goblins wielding semi-automatics and riding tanks. Movies like this make you wonder why fantasy and science fiction have a following. It doesn’t help that much of Bakshi’s character design is ripped off from the work of Vaughn Bodé. This was Bakshi’s first movie for kids, and it feels like one in the worst way.