Cinematic Flashback: Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003) Review
Wake up, my beauties. Rise and shine. It’s a brand-new day and the mortal world is at peace. But not for long. Just look at them; I pull one tiny thread and their whole world unravels into chaos. Glorious chaos. And what could be more perfect than this…. a noble prince, a priceless treasure, and a black-hearted thief. Oh, this is gonna be fun. Cetus, you know what to do…. let the games begin and my “cinematic flashback” for Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas.
SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS
“Putting the “bad” in Sinbad”
Director: Patrick Gilmore and Tim Johnson
Writer: John Logan
Starring: Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer, Joseph Fiennes
Run Time: 86 minutes
Release Date: July 2nd, 2003
Sinbad, the most daring and notorious rogue ever to sail the seven seas, has spent his life asking for trouble, and trouble has finally answered in a big way. Framed for stealing one of the world’s most priceless and powerful treasures–the Book of Peace–Sinbad has one chance to find and return the precious book, or his best friend Proteus will die. Sinbad decides not to take that chance and instead sets a course for the fun and sun of the Fiji Islands. However, Proteus’ beautiful betrothed, Marina, has stowed away on Sinbad’s ship, determined to make sure that Sinbad fulfills his mission and saves Proteus’ life. Now the man who put the “bad” in Sinbad is about to find out how bad bad can be.
I remember seeing the trailer for Sinbad roughly around the beginning of 2003 and was quite interested to see it. Sure, it was a kid’s cartoon movie and yes that was during my senior year of high school, but I was intrigued to see the film, especially since it had a more adventurous quest angle in the feature’s narrative. To be truthful, I liked it the movie and still do (had to dust off my old copy of the movie to rewatch it for this review) as Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is definitely a underrated animated movie that, while having its share of problems, still does hold in a epic adventure for kids.
Before How to Train Your Dragon, before Kung Fu Panda, and before many DreamWorks animated movies, Sinbad was released at the halfway point in 2003, presenting a sweeping tale of heroics and adventure, and a noble quest. The film, which was directed by Patrick Gilmore and Tim Johnson, certainly had a sort of swashbuckling nuance (something that I loved) and the narrative being told was quite intriguing and entertaining as well; allowing us (the viewers) to follow the character of Sinbad going from selfish thief to classic hero architype. It’s the stuff of classic myths and Joseph Campbell’s written world of a “hero’s journey” that Sinbad follows, but it definitely works in this movie, which makes it all the more compelling. Plus, there’s enough humor and heart for kids to enjoy as well as dramatic moments throughout, which makes the film easily accessible for the entire family. Plus, I did like how the movie utilized several Greek history and mythology places, including Eris (the Goddess of Strife and Discord), the port city of Syracuse, Sicily, the sea monster Cetus, the realm of Tartarus, and several other nods. To me, it’s a shame that the movie didn’t spawn a sequel or anything like that as it would’ve been really cool to see a follow-up adventure or two with these characters.
Personally, what stands out the most is in the film’s musical score. Composed by Harry Gregson-Williams, the score for Sinbad is sound grand, epic, and adventurous that it perfectly matches the animated feature of Sinbad’s journey from start to finish. Even for a kid’s cartoon endeavor, the musical score for the film definitely is something, especially for those who love movie soundtrack scores. Heck, I downloaded the soundtrack for it (love the song titled “Syracuse). In short, whether you love or hate or never heard of Sinbad, you’ll definitely hear the film’s score.
The biggest disappointment I had about the movie was the feature’s usage of CGI animation. During this time period of the film’s release, 3D animation was continuing to be on the rise with more traditional 2D animation was becoming, more or less, obsolete. Thus, Sinbad wanted to try and merge the two styles animation together for this theatrical presentation. Unfortunately, the results are mostly mixed. While all the characters in the movie are drawn in traditional 2D animation and do look pretty good in detail and making each one feels distinct, the various creatures and background settings are rendered in 3D animation. Of course, the background settings in the film are really great and looks epic and beautiful, but the clashing of the two styles of animation does feel a bit rough in several areas. If they picked one or the other, then the movie would’ve been slightly better. However, the meshing of the styles of animation throughout the movie doesn’t quite hit all the right notes correctly. At least that’s my opinion on the matter.
My other big pet peeve about the movie is that it could’ve been longer. With only having a runtime of 86 minutes, Sinbad is incredibly short and could’ve been easily expanded upon…. adding one or two more adventure conflicts to Sinbad’s voyage and could’ve added more depth to the characters and narrative story being told. Simply adding another 10 minutes or a little bit more than that could’ve been beneficial. That being said, while I do love the movie’s story / plot, I felt that the second act of Sinbad to be my least favorite. I really can’t put my finger on it, but I just find it to be boring and not as exciting as the first and third act. Perhaps the story could’ve been improved upon this area. The sad truth of this movie is that Sinbad didn’t perform well at the box office (grossing $80 million against its $60 million production budget…plus marketing campaign) and because of that DreamWorks Animation abandoned the traditional hand drawn animation in favor of computer-generated animation. Thus, Sinbad is the last film from the studio to feature 2D style animation, which is disappointing as the movie is actually pretty good.
The voice talents featured in Sinbad are really good and are one of the best highlights of the movie. Of course, the film’s headline trio of Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer as Sinbad (the hero), Mariana (the love interest), and Eris (the villain) definitely work and their vocal performances from those three are top notch by making their respective characters come alive on-screen with either charm, bravado, or just simply wickedly fun. In addition, actors Joseph Fiennes and Dennis Haysbert provide strong secondary supporting players in the movie as well.
In the end, Sindbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is very underrated animated film that never truly got its day in the theatrical sun. Its story is still adventurous and compelling, its voice acting talents are solid, its musical score is superb, and its art direction is beautifully epic. Unfortunately, the film does have a few problems and was released around the climatic turning point of 2D / 3D animation endeavors. It’s just a really shame that the movie never got a sequel and / of franchise tag from DreamWorks as what could’ve been something truly sweeping and epic. Still, at the end of the day (and for what it’s worth), the movie captures a spirt of adventure and an engaging heroic journey of the iconic literary figure.
Cinematic Flashback 3.9 Out of 5
Fun Fact: The original storyline for the film was to focus on the first voyage of Sinbad, then it would be followed by 6 sequels focusing on the other six voyages he had. However, after the box-office disappointment of The Road to El Dorado (2000), Jeffrey Katzenberg decided on having one movie, which didn’t just focus on the one voyage.