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Life & ArtsLife & Arts

Posted on Wed, Jul. 02, 2003 story:PUB_DESC
Swashbuckling 'Sinbad' looks sharp

Special to the Star-Telegram
Sinbad, voiced by Brad Pitt, begins to see the attraction of having Marina, the voice of Catherine Zeta-Jones, aboard his ship in Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas.

Are your kids sick of Finding Nemo yet? Probably not, but parents who have reached their limit on return visits with the lost little fish can take heart; another animated sea adventure sails into theaters today. Although neither as witty nor visually inventive as Nemo, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas provides enough sleek cartooning and swashbuckling action to satisfy young and old audiences alike.

Sinbad the sailor, voiced by Brad Pitt, is either a charming rogue or a fiendish pirate, depending upon which end of his sword you face. With his merry band of mercenaries (including 24 President Dennis Haysbert as first mate Kale), Sinbad plunders other ships for their valuable cargo. His latest target is the Book of Peace, a magical artifact that keeps the kingdom of Syracuse free and happy.

While attempting to steal the book, however, Sinbad comes face to face with his childhood chum Proteus (Joseph Fiennes), who is now the prince of Syracuse. Proteus convinces Sinbad that taking the book will bring turmoil to the kingdom, which is just what Eris (Michelle Pfeiffer), the Goddess of Chaos, has in mind.

Eris takes the book while disguised as Sinbad, and the sailor is arrested for the crime and sentenced to death. Proteus, believing in his longtime friend's innocence, arranges for Sinbad to be set free and given seven days to locate the Book. If he can't find it -- or if he never returns -- it is Proteus who will be executed.

Tagging along with Sinbad is Proteus' fiancee, Marina (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who aims to make sure the self-centered sailor doesn't skip out on his obligation to the prince. A sort of low-rent African Queen relationship develops between them, with Sinbad as the crusty Bogart and Marina as the prissy Hepburn. Together they brave many perils, including a giant sea monster and some seductive Sirens.

Seven Seas is a hybrid of traditionally animated figures and computer rendered backgrounds and creatures. This stylistic mix makes for some nifty effects, such as the hypnotic, almost three-dimensional rolling of the ocean waves (landlubbers may even get seasick).

The characters are a bit on the generic side, although Pfeiffer has some fun with her mischievous goddess. Fortunately, the pace is zippy enough to ensure that boredom never sets in. Best of all, if the kiddies enjoy it, you have the perfect excuse to introduce them to the classic "Sinbad" movies, featuring Ray Harryhausen's magical stop-motion effects. That alone makes Seven Seas worth the price of admission.

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas ***

Director: Patrick Gilmore, Tim Johnson

Stars: Voices of Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones

Length: 83 min.

Rated: PG (adventure action, some mild sensuality and brief language)

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