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Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas Review

By Shawn McKenzie 07/02/2003

I know I stated in my review of Finding Nemo that an animated feature didn?t have to be computer animated to be good.  It just had to have good writing.  Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas made me realize that computer animation may have still spoiled me.


Sinbad (voice of Brad Pitt), a pirate who has made his fortune plundering ships on each of the seven seas using his bravery, has set his sights on stealing the Book of Peace.  The crew of his ship, the Chimera, includes Kale (voice of Dennis Haysbert), his first mate and navigator; Rat (voice of Adriano Giannini), the ship?s rigger, and a guy who is always hanging and/or swinging off one rope or another; and Spike, his bull mastiff mix dog who is loyal and always by his side.  The Book of Peace is being transported to Syracuse on a ship captained by the Prince of Syracuse, Proteus (voice of Joseph Fiennes), to bring peace (and apparently daylight) to his homeland.  Sinbad and Proteus are childhood friends, but they hadn?t seen each other for ten years (Sinbad didn?t even know Proteus was the captain of the ship.)  After a brief reunion, Proteus tries to talk Sinbad out of stealing the book.  Sinbad doesn?t get much of a chance, because the ship is soon attacked by a giant sea monster named Cetus.  Cetus was sent to attack the ship by the evil Goddess of Chaos named Eris (voiced by Michelle Pfeiffer), who doesn?t want peace to come to the land of Syracuse.  Sinbad and Proteus work together to defeat Cetus, but Sinbad is knocked into the sea.  While under the water, Sinbad is placed in a bubble so he can meet Eris, who offers to pay him a huge amount of money to steal the book.  He takes the deal and makes his way back to the Chimera to follow Proteus back to Syracuse.  When they get there, he meets Proteus?s fianc?, Marina (voiced by Catherine Zeta-Jones), who is also the Ambassador of Thrace.  Sinbad and Marina are instantly attracted to each other, but they hold back their feelings out of respect for Proteus.  Sinbad decides not to steal the book, so Eris takes the task into her own hands.  In the form of Sinbad, she steals the book and takes it back to her home in Tartarus, which is located beyond the edge of the world.  Sinbad is framed for the thievery, but the only one who believes he is telling the truth about his suspicions of Eris is Proteus.  Proteus?s father, King Dymas (voiced by Timothy West), sentences Sinbad to death, but Proteus asks that he himself be given the sentence in Sinbad?s place in order for Sinbad to sail to Tartarus and retrieve the book.  Dymas reluctantly agrees, and Sinbad sets sail with his crew.  At first, he decides to head for the place he originally wanted to go, the Fiji Islands, but is talked out of it by Marina, who has stowed away aboard the Chimera.  Sinbad, Marina, and the crew head for Tartarus, and the crew is so charmed by Marina that they begin taking orders from her more often than from Sinbad.  Along the way, they battle a snowbird named the Roc, a group of Sirens who charm all the males into almost wrecking the ship, and Eris herself.  They need to get the book back to Syracuse before Proteus is executed, and things become complicated when Sinbad and Marina begin falling for each other even more during their journey.


I?m not going to say this movie is bad at all, only that I didn?t realize until I saw it how much I like computer animation.  The story and characters were interesting, but I kept thinking the whole time how old-fashioned it looked.  The external sets and the sea creatures were computer animated, but the main characters could have been out of any classic Disney movie (even though the movie comes from Dreamworks.)  I don?t know if I?m exactly complaining that the movie is hand-drawn, but I wondered what it would have looked like fully computer animated.  Hand-drawn was probably the smart way to go, because the only computer animated movie I can remember that had a majority of human characters was Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, and that movie was awful.


Most other reviews of this movie will probably say that Spike was the most memorable character, but for me, it was Rat.  The goofy positions he got into hanging from those ropes and the things he said to the crew were more entertaining to me than that slobbery dog.

At the very least, I can say that Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas joins Finding Nemo as one of the animated features of 2003 that parents won?t suffer through when they bring their kids to it.  I don?t wish for the death of hand-drawn animation, but I now realize that the visual can be almost as important as the writing.  Fortunately, this movie has some good writing.


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