Three Rankin-Bass Classics: Reviewed
Rankin-Bass, outside their stop-motion holiday films, never really reached the same level as Disney or Don Bluth when it came to animated fantasy films. Yet, they did manage to create three of my all-time favorites. And, so, here are my reviews for their three best accomplishments, but sadly, only two of them ar available on DVD.
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Based on the Peter Dickenson book, â??the Dragon and Georgeâ?; ages ago, the worlds of magic and logic lived side by side. However, the mortals of Earth began to choose logic over magic, and as their belief in magic waned, the magical beings of the world began to thin out. Carolinus (Harry Morgan), the Green Wizard, summons a meeting of his brothers to discuss the matter. The wizards agree to consolidate all the remaining magic of the world into an invisible place called the Realm of Magic, before it all dies out. However, Ommadon (James Earl Jones), the vile Red Wizard, refuses and declares that he will use his magic to influence the mortals to lay waste to the Earth. To counter this threat, Carolinus summons a scientist with an affinity for fantasy, Peter (John Ritter), from the 20th century. Peter is to lead a quest to take Ommadonâ??s red crown and save the Realm of Magic. However, shortly after arriving, Peter is accidentally merged with a dragon named Gorbash (Cosie Costa). Peter is distraught, as he does not understand how to be a dragon. Mentoring him is Smrgol (James Gregory), Gorbashâ??s elderly uncle, and accompanying him on his journey is Sir Orin (Bob McFadden), the chivalrous knight, Giles of the Treeptops (Don Messick), the cowardly wood elf, and several others.
The Hobbit, based off the earliest book in J.R. R. Tolkienâ??s Lord of the Rings series, is one of the better animated fantasy films available and a very useful primer for someone who plans to spend a possible 13 hours of their life watching Peter Jacksonâ??s blockbuster trilogy. The Hobbit is in many ways similar to the Jacksonâ??s films, in spirit, and in many ways different. The Hobbit focuses more on the fantasy out-of-this-world elements of Middle Earth and less on the violent, darker tones and all the hardcore action they entail. The War of Five Armies at the very end is one of the shorter segments of the movie, and while there is some severely grim imagery for a â??kidâ??sâ? movie (corpses, blood, monsters) the war would no doubt have taken-up 2 hours had Jackson directed the movie. Never-the-less, the Hobbit gives a very accurate adaptation of the book and is most-useful when it comes to understanding the back-story of the live action films.
I feel a great sense of joy and satisfaction knowing that this film has finally been released on DVD. Itâ??s a legendary piece of animation, a most beautifully and carefully crafted tale, and I am pleased to a towering degree now that this movie is widely available to a new generation of youths. Rankin-Bass delivered many animation classics in their time (The Hobbit, a Flight of Dragons), but the Last Unicorn may very well be their most memorable and most magnificent. Itâ??s a movie every child should grow up watching, and a movie every adult should come to appreciate.