I’m from the generation of movie-goers who grew up on Harryhausen epics like “Sinbad” and “Jason and the Argonauts” and I also grew up on classic animation, Max Fleischer, Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Robert McKimson, you name it. “Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas” is an epic with a great cast, and quite an enjoyable one with excellent hand-drawn animation that rivals anything I’ve seen before. It’s sleek, it’s stylish and hell, it’s damn entertaining. In yet another adaptation of the mythological tale, we meet Sinbad and his band of pirates who all specialize in something. Sinbad is a master thief and want the book of peace to sell, but on his way to take it he clashes with his old friend Proteus who wants the book as well but for more noble purposes. The two have at it, but the goddess of discord Eris captures Sinbad and makes him an offer: Take the book of peace and bring it to her and she’ll grant him paradise and luxury for his remaining years.
Tempted by the greed Sinbad takes the offer unaware of Eris’ true intentions for him. While at the palace of Proteus, Eris frames Sinbad morphing in his form and taking the book of peace to where Sinbad is imprisoned and put to death. Convinced that his friend is innocent, Proteus takes Sinbad’s place in jail and now Sinbad has ten days to return with the book and prove his innocence or else Proteus dies. Sinbad takes another route intent on running away but his ship is crashed by the beautiful feisty princess Marina who intends on going on the voyage with him making sure he stands by his word. Now they must travel to the gates of Tartarus and steal back the book while on a deadline. The animation is something to admire with fluid and stylish action scenes including a great duel between Proteus and Sinbad aboard a ship, and incredible effects regarding Eris and her fluid-like in motion hair which waves and swerves along the air.
Eris is a rather menacing villain despite the fact that we barely see any of her and most of the obstacles is derived of creatures set up to give Sinbad and the characters trouble including the always faithful giant octopus, and a giant snow falcon which comes after Eris freezes the sea stranding the crew. The voice work is good here with top-notch actors doing what they set out to do. Brad Pitt is appropriate for the gallant anti-hero/thief Sinbad who’s often confronted with calamity after calamity and always comes out unscathed despite being a thief, Joseph Fiennes is appropriate as the trim and proper Proteus set to gain the throne and protect the kingdom despite his torrid past. The chemistry between the two actors is fluid and it’s entertaining to watch them jabber back and forth. Michelle Pfeiffer is delicious as the sexy enchantress Eris, the goddess of discord who tempts Sinbad successfully and watches through her little globes tampering with their journey.
Catherine Zeta Jones is very fun as the feisty heroine Marina who gives Sinbad a hard time and gains the respect of the fawning crew who obey her beckoned call because she’s so beautiful. Admittedly, I was never interested in the romance forced upon us in this film; I mean, I saw the whole storyline between Marina and Sinbad to be not only so predictable, but bland, and horribly trite and cliché. They like each other, then they fight like crazy though they really like one another and can’t admit it, but then it goes on and on. Was there really a need to include such a recycled plotline in the mix? There’s also the obligatory goofy character ala Spike, the bulldog with a heart of gold. I never really warmed up to his presence though I’m sure the children went hog wild for him, there’s no need for him as well, he “Disney’s” up the entire film without serving a lot of purpose other than the blatant reason of why he’s in the film, simply to make the kids laugh but in the process makes Sinbad and the other characters less and less interesting.
With that there’s the villain Eris who is not only an immense rip-off of Ursula from “The Little Mermaid” but while menacing is bland and has little to nothing to do. While she does become a presence to instill chaos into Sinbad’s voyage you hardly ever see her do much. Pfeiffer who sounds like she had fun with the role is rarely ever shown giving large monologues or really pushing Sinbad’s buttons throughout the story which is hardly ever an epic. I’m not even sure if she should be considered a villain either way. Along with the great acting there are some truly good action scenes including the fight with the giant octopus, the crew’s entry into the gates of tartarus and, my favorite, the crew’s confrontation with the siryns in which Marina must come to the rescue. “Sinbad” has a lot of heart for a film that received such little reception and appreciation. Simply, it does what it sets out to do, provides great entertainment and escapist fare for kids, and for anyone looking for a break from the onslaught of computer animation and Disney toting. Despite its flaws, this is a fun well-acted piece of escapist fare with action, romance, adventure, and monsters galore.