Fans of fighting fantasy can look forward to a fun few years ahead, as according to an exclusive report on Deadline Hollywood, Sony has agreed a deal for Robert Rodriguez to direct a live action version of Fire and Ice, the 1983 animated movie co-created by Ralph Bakshi (he of the animated version of The Lord of the Rings), and famous fantasy figure Frank Frazetta. And without too much sniggering up sleeves and evocations of Spın̈al Tap, this looks set to be simply some massive fun.
This is a project that has been in gestation since at least 2009, when Rodriguez first started talking up plans to produce a film based on the work of his friend and idol, who died in 2010. Rodriguez’s more recent comments on his goals, dating from August this year, indicate a work in progress that aims to stay both close to the original movie and to Frazetta’s own style and views – to such an extent that Rodriguez talks of giving Frazetta a (posthumous, alas) co-directing credit. And remember that this is El Mariachi, Desperado, and From Dusk Till Dawn Rodriguez, a filmmaker who could probably make paint drying look intensely kinetic. What he could do with Frazetta fighting scenes hardly bears thinking about.
Frazetta’s influence on the development and even characterization of the entire swords and sorcery/fighting fantasy genre, dating from his first paperback book covers back in the early 1960s, can hardly be overstated – it probably exceeds the impact of any other figure who wasn’t an actual writer in the field. Many artists and computer game designers claim him as an influence, and franchises such as Dragonlance and the Fighting Fantasy series of single-player roleplay gamebooks by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, as well as the novelizations based on such series, probably owe as much to him as to Robert E. Howard and other earlier fantasy authors.
Regrettably, Fire and Ice also might delay swords and sorcery’s long-overdue reconciliation with adulthood and sexual equality. But I for one find it hard to carp. Rodriguez? On Frazetta? What’s not to break out the mead and sound the war-horns over?