Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas

(Patrick Gilmore & Tim Johnson, USA, 2003)


One of the increasingly strange trends in modern movie distribution is the tendency to splash above the title of an animated feature the names of real-life actors: in this case, Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michelle Pfeiffer. Of course, they provide the voices of the main characters – but can they really be considered the stars of the show?

I even wonder if such actors provide a real selling-point for the film – since, in my experience, most viewers are not even aware they are listening to Pitt or any other celebrity if the voice happens to be detached from the famous mug.

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is a fairly spirited and exciting retelling of an old story. In this version, Sinbad has to regain a Book of Peace in order to save the life of his best friend, Proteus. But a complicating triangle looms, because Sinbad is falling for Marina, a no-longer staid lady who is keen to lead a pirate´s life.

There is one very annoying thing and one very appealing thing in this movie. The annoying thing is the forced way in which all the characters speak in modern slang and react with modern attitudes. I know it is a commonplace device in Hollywood animations, but what is the point of it? Does it simply arise from an exaggerated fear that kids will 'turn off' if the voices and postures don't mimic what they see in TV commercials every day?

The appealing thing is how free and flowing the animation becomes every time the evil goddess Eris enters the plot. Since she is a morally bad girl, she is a fugitive, formless creature, forever tempting our hero and laughing wickedly at her own destructiveness.

She is also – age-old misogyny aside – by far the best and brightest character in the movie.

© Adrian Martin July 2003

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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