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Sinbad the sailor’s a scoundrel at heart,
Or so goddess Eris may think.
This villainous goddess has chaos to start
And sends a beast into the drink.
As Sinbad is robbing an old but dear friend
Named Proteus, parted for years,
He finds he must help his old chum to defend
‘Gainst a tentacled fiend that appears.
They dispose of the monster, but Sinbad is swept
From the ship, so that Eris can pitch
An offer to him he can’t help but accept:
Steal a book and she’ll make the rogue rich.
In Syracuse, Proteus unloads the book
That brings peace to the cities around.
But sly Eris frames the notorious crook,
And leaves the whole kingdom unsound.
They all accuse Sinbad, but Proteus asks
That he stay while Sinbad finds the book.
The thief at first balks at this hardest of tasks,
But he leaves since he’s now off the hook.
Marina, Prince Proteus’s fiancée,
Stows away to ensure Sinbad goes.
A bribe proves enough to allow her to stay,
But they don’t like each other (it shows).
But, when Eris sends several Sirens to sing,
Who bewitch both the thief and his crew,
Marina takes over to narrowly bring
The ship and its company through.
They next hook a line to an island-sized fish,
Which gives them a turbulent ride.
Marina then almost becomes the main dish
For a giant bird Eris supplied.
Once Sinbad saves her, they all sail for a star,
And he unveils his love for the girl.
As they near Tartarus after coming so far,
They sail off the edge of the world.
Marina and Sinbad swing to Eris’ realm,
A lost kingdom of ruin and death.
Meanwhile, his faithful first mate takes the helm,
And everyone’s holding their breath.
In Tartarus, Eris taunts Sinbad to lie
And say he’ll return when he won’t.
He swears, book or no, that he’ll go back to die.
They try to retrieve it but don’t.
At the moment when Proteus thinks he’ll be slain,
Sinbad comes back to him just in time.
He is empty-handed; the trip was in vain,
But he’s there to be killed for his “crime.”
Yet Eris had sworn that, if he said what’s true,
He’d then have the book that she took.
His promise was genuine; he followed through,
So she grudgingly gives him the book.
His name somewhat cleared, Sinbad plans to depart,
And Marina is silently sad.
Yet Proteus tells her to follow her heart
So she voyages off with Sinbad.

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is both a homage to the ancient Arab tales (and the old movie featuring the character) and a thrill ride that is sure to buckle anyone’s swash. With some of the best action set pieces involving traditional animation, Sinbad seems like a precursor and inspiration for the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. While Curse of the Black Pearl came out the same year as this DreamWorks film and shares the hero/thief dichotomy of the main character, the other three seem to borrow key scenes from Sinbad. The attacks of the Kraken in Dead Man’s Chest are similar to Cetus’ assault at the beginning, the edge of the world scene in At World’s End seems directly borrowed from this film (complete with the characters who continue on finding themselves suddenly in a desert with the remains of a ship), and the vampiric mermaids of On Stranger Tides are akin to the Sirens. The other action scenes may not have direct comparisons but are still just as thrilling, such as their escape from the giant roc.

Another similarity is the fact that, while Sinbad and Jack Sparrow are both murderous thieves when you get right down to it, the films aren’t actually about them doing the despicable acts that have earned them infamy in the movie’s world. This allows the film to redeem these characters in a way that makes them heroic, even if they probably continue their old lifestyles after the film’s events.

The adventuresome Harry Gregson-Williams score is perfect, though it’s got nothing on Hans Zimmer’s classic theme for Pirates. The animation, again a mixture of hand-drawn animation for the characters and CGI for the giant creatures, is quite good as well and extremely fluid, such as Eris’ ethereal comings and goings. The voice acting is also top-notch, and it remains the only Brad Pitt film my VC can bring herself to watch, mainly because Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michelle Pfeifer do so well in their respective roles. As the last of DreamWorks’s traditionally animated films, Sinbad offers some great action and a predictable but nicely developed romance, and I think it deserved a sequel. I like many of DreamWorks Animation’s CGI films, but it’s a shame that wonderful hand-drawn films like this have nearly gone extinct in the U.S.

Best line: (Marina, while hiding from the roc after Sinbad pulls out a single knife) “Great, he can pick his teeth when he’s done with us.” (Sinbad) “Yeah, you see, in the hands of an expert, a good knife has 1,001 good uses.” (Sinbad then proves his lack of expertise.)

Artistry: 4
Characters/Actors: 6
Entertainment: 8
Visual Effects: 8
Originality: 6
Watchability: 6
Other (I just like other films better): -6
TOTAL: 32 out of 60

Next: #292: The Impossible

© 2014 S. G. Liput