Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003)
Patrick Gilmore & Tim Johnson

Artistic Value: * * *
Entertainment Value: * * * ½

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After Eris, the goddess of discord, steals a magical book, Sinbad, a dashing pirate, is blamed for the theft and sentenced to be executed. However, his childhood friend, Proteus, the prince of Syracuse, insists upon taking Sinbad's place so that the mariner can retrieve the book. Although Sinbad is reluctant to risk his life to save Proteus's, he, his crew, and Proteus's fiancée, Marina, set sail for Tartarus, Eris's domain at the edge of the world.

Patrick Gilmore and Tim Johnson's animated Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is actually an entertaining film. It may never rise above the ordinary, but it is certainly never boring and does contain a number of visually appealing elements.

I have to admit that the story the directors tell is pretty hackneyed. It is a standard adventure yarn in which a reluctant hero sets off to save the world and, along the way, both falls in love with an attractive woman and discovers he really is a decent person.

Fortunately, the movie is so fast paced and exciting that the mediocrity of its narrative is never much of distraction. Instead of being bored by it, the viewer is more likely to find himself caught up in the numerous fights, daring escapes, wild adventures, and the like in which the heroes involve themselves.

What is more, Sinbad is often visually astonishing. Syracuse, a marvellous city of white towers connected to one another by bridges like flying buttresses, perched atop a series of steep hills rising before the mountains surrounding a bay, and lit by a purple and orange sky, was obviously inspired by the paintings of Maxfield Parrish, and has a wonderful sense of fantasy to it. Fortunately, several of the film's other locations are just as beguiling. Tartarus, with its constantly shifting sands that reveal and hide ruined cities and armies of stone soldiers, is weirdly eerie, and the incredible, impossible gates past a waterfall at the world's edge are nearly as good.

Even the various monsters inhabiting this fanciful land are nicely realized. At one point, Sinbad and his crew encounter sirens made of crystal clear water that are able to take shape and dissolve at will. At another point, they land on an island that turns out to be a gigantic fish, and, in a third scene, they fight a terrible, squid-like beast able to shoot out its tongue like a chameleon. Perhaps the best fiend of the movie is, however, Eris. She forms from and dissolves into trails of purplish color and swells to colossal size or reduces herself to that of an ordinary woman. She really is captivating to watch.

Thanks to such enthralling images, as well as to its well executed action sequences, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is a genuinely fun, often thrilling movie. It may never be more than a pleasant diversion, but it is certainly that.

Review by Keith Allen

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