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Ed Colley

Published July 25th, 2003 | by Ed Colley

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas Review

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas – an enjoyable 90 minutes of American cultural imperialism.

This latest animated offering from Dreamworks follows the adventures of Sinbad (voiced with the usual level of annoying lo-fi rogueish charm by Brad Pitt), an affable if amoral pirate who gets himself and his crew into all manner of scrapes as he tries to get back a magic book which has been stolen by the Goddess of Chaos (a delectable Michelle Pfeiffer). Accused of being the thief and sentenced to death, Sinbad seems destined for an early grave. However, his old chum Proteus (Jospeh Fiennes), being the good sort that he is, decides to stand in for Sinbad, allowing the dashing sailor to retrieve the book and save them both. (Interestingly, Sinbad, voiced by an American, goes gallivanting off to save the world from chaos, relying on his best friend, voiced by a British, to take the blame if things go wrong, and ends up taking all the glory – an example of art imitating life, perhaps?).

So, will the morally dubious Sinbad high-tail it off to the safety of Bali, or will he keep his word, risk life and limb to find the book, and repay the loyalty his good friend has shown him?

Well, this being American animation, the final outcome is not surprising, but it’s quite fun to see Sinbad arrive at the decision we always knew he would come to. He is aided in his moral struggle by Proteus’s fiancé, the feisty Marina (Catherine Zeta-Jones), his slobbering bull mastiff Spike, and a crew of loveable vagabonds, all of whom add to the general atmosphere of derring do mingled with harmless laughs that pervades the film.

Sinbad is a mixture of 2-D (its stock characters) and 3-D (its various monster) and as such does not really raise the bar of animation, or even reach that already set. But no matter, for Sinbad is not so much about visuals as it is about action, which it delivers in spades.

The opening scenes feature Sinbad’s ship boarding Proteus’s, which is then attacked by a giant sea-monster, and this right royal rumble is well-drawn and well-directed. Influenced by Hong Kong wire works, the fight scenes are pumped up pieces of
acrobatic physicality, and work very well.

Once the book is stolen and Sinbad sets off on his adventure, the fighting quickly gets put aside for more frenetic but less aggressive flighting. This involves a nice bit of girl and dog power as Marina and Spike have to save the male crew from the singing of the deadly Sirens; the crew realising that the large rock they have climbed onto is infact an enormous sea creature and subsequently hitching a ride on its tail; or Sinbad and Marina evading the clutches of an enormous snow bird by whizzing down snow capped mountains.

Sinbad is short but effective, marshalling some impressive voice work and a script from the fella who wrote ‘Gladiator’, no less. It doesn’t quite have the impact of an Aladdin or a Shrek, but it is still quite a bit of fun. True, when adults watch Sinbad they might see it as an example of American cultural imperialism, with an American film company appropriating an Arabic tale and essentially erasing all references to anything Arabic. Kiddies, on the other hand, who are not quite so interested in the international political climate, might just watch Sinbad and think it’s fun to spend 90 minutes. And they’d both be right.


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