SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS
Sinbad (voice of Brad Pitt), the most daring pirate, thief and adventurer ever to sail the seven seas, is sentenced to death after being framed by Eris (Michelle Pfeiffer), the goddess of chaos, for trying to steal the powerful and priceless Book of Peace. Sinbad's best friend, Prince Proteus (Joseph Fiennes), puts his life on the line instead, giving Sinbad the chance to redeem himself by stealing the Book back from Eris. And just to ensure he fulfils his mission, Proteus's girlfriend Marina (Catherine Zeta-Jones) stows aboard Sinbad's ship, and a fantastic voyage begins.
Review by Louise Keller:
An animated fantasy adventure on the high seas, Sinbad is a swashbuckling tale for young and old. There’s a rogue hero, a noble prince, a beautiful damsel, mythological monsters and a mischievous goddess who creates dramatic chaos. It’s entertaining – especially for the youngsters - and some of the animation and effects are fabulous, but it doesn’t deliver either the unique realities or the kind of magic that Shrek or Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron offered. This legend from Greek mythology first graced the screen in Ray Harryhausen’s cult classic stop-motion animated films in the 50s, and here it’s revived with all the tools of state-of-the-art animation technology, in contemporary dressing, with timeless sensibilities and emotions. The production design combines flavours of the Middle East with those of central Europe and while the orchestration is also non-culture specific, it marries the customary classics with ethnic influences. Produced by the makers of Shrek and written by Gladiator screenwriter John Logan, Sinbad offers formula-driven ingredients in action adventure with a splash of romance. The script entertains on two levels, and it’s the few throwaway lines that adults will appreciate, which give it zest. Three years in the making, traditional animation is integrated with 3D computer animation, seen in sequences such as those with Eris, the Goddess of Chaos, when her flowing locks of hair seems to have a life of its own. She appears as if from a genie’s bottle, morphing into different shapes: playful, mysterious and above all, feminine. My favourite scene introduces us to the curvaceous, alluring sirens, whose transparent, fluid shapes are ballet-like, and whose intoxicating songs, legend tells us, have long lured sailors to their deaths. Humour is integrated with the drama, as the sailors are distracted by these mirages and become putty in their hands. And the humour works well, especially when it comes to Spike, the very cute bull mastiff terrier, who wins the trophy for best doggie drooling and facial expressions. Interesting to note that eight dogs of all shapes and sizes were inducted to voice Spike, for the required licks, drools, slurps, whines and convincing doggie noises. And most effectively too – what scene stealers animals are! An all-star voice cast brings the characters to life with Brad Pitt as the flawed hero, Catherine Zeta-Jones as the feisty Marina, Michelle Pfeiffer as the magical Eris and Joseph Fiennes as the noble Prince. I would have liked the characters to resemble their famous voice actors, but perhaps the filmmakers decided that a Sinbad who looks as good as Brad Pitt might be too cute for his own legend! (Pitt is reported to have jokingly called his character ‘Sin-Brad’). It’s a brightly coloured, fun family adventure with broad appeal and a predictable ‘happy-ever-after’ ending.
Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
Based on the ancient Arabian Nights tales and inspired by Ray Harryhausen's cult classic stop-motion animated movies from the '70s, this cartoon Sinbad is a traditional animated adventure from Dreamworks, the Steven Spielberg/Jeffrey Katzenberg run studio which has produced a curious line-up of animated movies. There's the underrated Woody Allen comedy-cartoon Antz, the dark and edgy Small Soldiers, the egg-cellent Chicken Run, and the fairytale-busting Shrek. All of these have been cleverly scripted, highly stylised computer-animated movies that appeal to both adults and kids. And they've been critical and commercial hits. On the other hand, they have also made some safer, more traditional, Disney-like line-drawing animated adventures such as The Prince of Egypt, The Road to El Dorado, and the wistful Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. All of which have been fairy disappointing. So considering that the CG Shrek/Antz/Toy Story style of animation seems the way to go in the future, it's somewhat surprising that Dreamworks is determined to continue making the kind of old-style animated movies Disney is famous for. Sinbad, I think, won't really help their cause. Loaded with big-name voice talents to ensure box office success, this is an old-school water-colour adventure unrestricted by such annoyances as the laws of physics, safety, believability or reality. And considering this comes from the same stable that busted all those cartoon clichés in Shrek, it's pretty disappointing to see all the cartoon conventions here; the handsome wise-cracking hero, the evil goddess villain, the sappy storybook romance, the eccentric crew of supporting characters, and the loyal animal sidekick (at least it's not a parrot on Sinbad's shoulder). And I thought the voice talents didn't always match the look and demeanor of the characters - especially Brad Pitt, who just doesn't fit the pirate swagger. Sinbad is harmlessly inoffensive enough to be enjoyed by the kind of pre-teen kids who love a good swashbuckling adventure full of all those clichés, but anyone hoping for more will have to set sail on another adventure.
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SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS (PG) Low Level Violence
VOICES: Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer, Joseph Fiennes, Dennis Haysbert
PRODUCER: Mireille Soria, Jeffrey Katzenberg
DIRECTOR: Tim Johnson, Patrick Gilmore
SCRIPT: John Logan
EDITOR: Tom Finan
MUSIC: Harry Gregson-Williams
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Raymond Zibach
RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Vic, Qld, NT: June 30, 2003; NSW, SA, WA: July 3 (with previews nationally on June 21, 21, 28, 29, 2003)