Sinbad takes to the 'Seven Seas,' but never really gets anywhere
By Sean P. Means
The Salt Lake Tribune
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas
Hitting the high seas in a leaky animated vessel.
Rated PG for adventure action, some mild sensuality and brief language; 86 minutes.
Opening today everywhere.
You keep waiting for the big moment in "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas," the big scene where this animated adventure stops puttering along and kicks into high gear.
You keep waiting until the closing credits start, which is when you realize "Sinbad" is more akin to another legendary sailor, the Flying Dutchman -- always heading toward its goal but never getting there.
The movie introduces Sinbad as a roguish thief who is tall, dashing, with the heart of a hero and the voice of Brad Pitt. He and his pirate band run into Sinbad's childhood buddy Proteus (Joseph Fiennes), a prince who is taking home to Syracuse a treasure called The Book of Peace. The magical MacGuffin will protect everyone in the known world -- or can destroy it, which is the plan of Eris, the goddess of discord.
Eris (voiced by Michelle Pfeiffer) tries to enlist Sinbad to steal the book from Proteus -- and, failing that, takes it herself and frames Sinbad. Proteus, by offering to die in Sinbad's place, gives Sinbad a chance to recover the book and prove he is no thief. Sinbad and crew go sailing to Eris' lair, with Proteus' gorgeous and adventurous fiancee Marina (voiced by Catherine Zeta-Jones) along for the ride.
The voyage provides many opportunities for the DreamWorks animators, led by directors Tim Johnson ("Antz") and Patrick Gilmore, to show their stuff, such as the sailors' encounter with some sylphlike Sirens. Eris' way of wisping in and out of scenes, appearing human-sized and galactic at will, is cleverly realized -- if more than a bit reminiscent of the Genie in Disney's "Aladdin."
On average, though, the animation is as flat as the script (by "Gladiator's" John Logan). The 3D computer work on the ships and sea monsters stands out more than the flat 2D of the human figures. The voice cast is uneven -- Zeta-Jones gives a sly spark to Marina and Pfeiffer oozes her best Catwoman menace into Eris, but Pitt's voice doesn't have the same sex appeal without his bad-boy snarl. "Sinbad" stays afloat, but never gets moving.