Monsters were my thing growing up—movies, model kits, and toys, drawing them and pretending to be them—with Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion creations always being at the top of that list. His best monsters were the ones he made for three Sinbad movies (7th Voyage Of…Golden Voyage Of…And The Eye Of The Tiger) and his two explorations into Greek mythology: Jason And The Argonauts (1963) and Clash Of The Titans (1981).
While I can’t totally recommend this homage to his films it does have some redeeming qualities. The main one being Ron Cole’s stop motion creatures, and this movie does homage all three of Harryhausen’s Sinbad flicks. The snake woman conjured up by Sokurah in 7th Voyage has a comparable scene here except it’s not a snake woman but a green-skinned horned demon who demonstrates his spear handling techniques. You also get a one-eyed Cyclops (a 7th Voyage homage); Sinbad battling a skeleton (another homage to 7th Voyage) and an encounter with a Roc, this one closer to what he looks like in the original Arabian Nights stories, meaning he doesn’t have two heads. Not that I have anything at all against a two-headed Roc. I’m just saying this one is not thus making it closer to the source material. That’s all. I fucking love Ray’s two-headed bird.
You also get a giant wasp (an Eye Of The Tiger homage); a giant crab (Mysterious Island homage?); a multi-armed Goddess statue (Golden Voyage homage) and a dragon that appears far too briefly at the end only to get killed off before it even has a chance to show off it’s stop motion skills.
The plot, however, is rather disjointed and the characters not as deep as they should be. Patrick Stewart narrates the tale at various points for he’s retired Sinbad recollecting the events of his Fifth Voyage. Shahin Sean Solimon plays this version of the swashbuckling Arabian sailor (he also did triple duty writing, producing and directing the movie too). He’s not the best Sinbad but he’s also not the worst. That honor goes to Patrick Wayne of Eye Of The Tiger. The best portrayal is John Phillip Law of Golden Voyage. Law has got the look down pat and even the accent, which is why Solimon should have grown a beard for his version. All Sinbads need to have that Law facial hair. At least Solimon is the right ethnicity for the role and sports the appropriate accent.
In the movie he’s coming home for his wedding to Princess Zoreh (Lorna Raver) and finds everyone frozen in ice. We then get a flashback as to how that happened. An evil sorcerer is involved. He goes by the name of The White Deev (Said Faraj). Kidnapping Zoreh appears to be his main objective where he then secrets himself away to this prehistoric island littered with volcanoes and monsters. Another flashback within the aforementioned flashback shows why Sinbad was almost late for his own wedding. He was stopping off on this island to get this magical amulet for Zoreh as a wedding present. This is where he did battle with that many-armed Goddess statue.
Once the story is all caught up with itself and Sinbad and his crew are off to rescue his beloved we get a flashback subplot as to how Sinbad and Zoreh met and how he and the Sultan (David Light) were at odds over it. Light also does momentary double duty as the shape-shifting genie Sinbad finds on the island. Another nod to the 7th Voyage.
The film has moments where it works. The opening credits for instance are very retro giving you another nostalgic jolt of The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad (1958); the music is fitting and orchestral and some of the CGI effects as it pertains to scenery are old Hollywood inspired. The scene in the Sultans castle just before the Deev conjures his demon is colorful and the production value is almost that of a 50s period flick, but there are other scenes that painfully show the budgetary limitations, meaning it’s too obvious some parts are being filmed on a green screen. The only acting low points are the “choices” made by Said Faraj for his Deev portrayal. They’re very unintentionally comical. I chuckled many times when he was trying to act menacing.
Peace Arch Trinity, a division of Phase 4 Films, which is now merged with Entertainment One distributes the movie on DVD only (the movie’s Facebook page does promise a blu-ray is coming) on February 3rd.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 2.39:1 anamorphic widescreen—English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound—No subtitles.
The picture quality and audio were very good.
For extra features you get:
- Behind The Scenes Featurette (2:35)
- Sinbad Leaves Parisa (outtake) (1:40)
- Sultan Feud With Parisa & Sinbad (outtake) (3:55)
- Bloopers (2:53)
Despite it’s shortcomings this film should be noted and remembered for being the first live action homage to Ray Harryhausen’s work to come along in the 21st century that actually manages to employ the very stop motion techniques he was renowned for.