Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Making of; Filmmaker's commentary; Spotlight
On Harvey - The Voice of Spike; Art gallery; Games; Cyclops Island.
LONG gone are the days when Disney ruled the animation roost,
almost single-handedly. Most of the major film companies seem
to have realised the potential of tapping into the childrens
market and have set about attempting to wrestle away the crown
owned by the Magic Kingdom, with mixed results.
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is one of the better efforts
to emerge from the challengers, however, arriving as a lavish,
visually beautiful combination of traditional hand-drawn and computer-generated
animation techniques, set against the backdrop of a classic story.
The legend of Sinbad was born more than a thousand years ago
and has inspired generation upon generation of young children,
having been brought to the screen on several occasions, most notably
in Ray Harryhausens cult-classic stop-motion animated films.
Yet the story is given a contemporary spin by Dreamworks, who
have assembled some heavyweight talent to get behind one of their
most ambitious animated ventures to date.
For starters, audiences can look forward to hearing the voices
of Brad Pitt (Sinbad), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Marina), Michelle
Pfeiffer (Eris) and 24s Dennis Haysbert, among others, while
the script comes courtesy of John Logan, who scribed the Oscar-winning
The idea, it seems, is to lend proceedings a truly epic feel,
but while Sinbad aspires to great heights, it very rarely achieves
them, despite remaining a thoroughly enjoyable family film throughout.
The story centres around Sinbad and crew after the happy-go-lucky
sailor has been framed, by Pfeiffers Goddess of chaos, for
stealing one of the worlds most priceless and powerful treasures
- the Book of Peace.
Sentenced to death, the tireless adventurer is given one chance
to clear his name by childhood friend, Proteus (Joseph Fiennes),
who agrees to swap places under the executioners axe, while
Sinbad sets about recovering the book, and restoring order to
the formers kingdom.
Helping him to do so, meanwhile, is Proteus feisty betrothed,
Marina, who gives as good as she gets in helping to ensure Sinbad
doesnt stray from his path, while winning over the respect
and admiration of his crew.
The ensuing high sea adventure takes in all manner of monstrous
creatures and elements, while Sinbad and crew attempt to out-manoeuvre
the devious manipulations of Pfeiffers goddess.
For the most part, Sinbad does a pretty decent job of mixing
the action with the intricacies of the story, providing plenty
to excite the younger members of the audience, as well as giving
something for the grown-ups to get their teeth into.
There are occasional lulls, when the children at the screening
I attended were heard to be restless, but for the most part, the
look, feel and enthusiasm of proceedings had them enthralled.
Needless to say, the film benefits greatly from the vocal talents
of its first-rate cast, with Pitt, especially, infusing his Sin-Brad
with a roguish element reserved for all of the best heroes, and
Pfeiffer suitably vampish as the devilishly playful goddess. Haysbert,
too, lends gravitas to his performance as Sinbads first
mate, given how distinctive his voice is anyway.
And with several set pieces to savour, including a thrilling
escape from the clutches of a snowbird, and an encounter with
some Sirens, which combine the requisite excitement with some
terrific visual artistry, there is plenty to admire in Sinbad,
making this a worthwhile trip to the cinema for young and old