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July 03, 2003

'Sinbad' gives good time

By Michael Sullivan
Staff Writer


July 03, 2003

article main image photo courtesy of dreamworks
Voyaging hero Sinbad (voiced by Brad Pitt) sails with abandon in the Dreamworks animated adventure, "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas."

"Who's bad? Sinbad."

The grimaced smirk this line provokes sums up the modern approach to "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas." But in light of the situation in which this nonhistorical dialogue comes about, its inclusion is actually not that bad.

Dreamworks has concocted a funny little adventure film around this Sinbad of the 21st century. No, it doesn't include the amazing technical skill or the creative dialogue of the other animated feature released this summer, but it's already apparent that Pixar has taken over the animated world.

This movie draws more from Disney's classic early-'90s works of 2-D animation in which the characters are lively and fun and the plot moves along briskly. While it's not quite as good as that other Arabian tale, "Aladdin," the same comic tone whips up this film.

The story begins with Sinbad and his daring crew of thieves attempting to steal the "Book of Peace" from Proteus, Sinbad's boyhood friend. Due to a little divine intervention, they fail.

Sinbad still wants the book, but in light of his reunion with Proteus after 10 years and a certain female connection, he decides against the thievery -- only to be framed when the book comes up missing.

Proteus takes Sinbad's place during the trial, believing his once-trustworthy friend will find the book and return it to save him from execution.

This basic plot is filled with scenes of adventure and peril. While some of it is cliched, "Sinbad" sails in more places than it sinks.

Although the animation can be troublesome at times (example: the first battle sequence, with a computer-generated squid attacking Sinbad's two-dimensional ship), it becomes more seamless as the movie continues. An encounter with the Sirens in the treacherous Dragon's Teeth is actually eerie and imaginatively rendered.

The story's dialogue is less imaginative. It's irreverent of the prose of the classic tales and a bit corny. Still, it has its moments of laughter and eventually flows with the film.

No one pulls this banter off better than Brad Pitt as the dashing hero. His smart quips fly with reckless abandon, and his voice talent gives charisma to this charmer.

Sinbad's crew reflects this playful heckling. They complement the swashbuckling action with each of their distinct individual traits; even the stereotypical mascot dog was a likable addition.

Catherine Zeta-Jones does a decent job as Marina, the love-interest stowaway, but her voice is less distinct. Anyone could have voiced this character. Joseph Fiennes' lack of impact is relatively the same as the sacrificial Proteus.

Ironically, the villain steals the show. Eris, goddess of discord, is one of the most creative villains ever animated. Michelle Pfeiffer lends seduction and spice whenever the tale begins to drag. The smoky slither of her character's animation is the greatest achievement of the film.

So, if you don't mind the combination of 2-D and 3-D and a few tidbits of hammy dialogue, this movie will surprise you. It's fun adventure with a good heart. Be a kid again and join the mantra.

Who's bad? Sinbad!

Contact the A&E Editor

at artsdesk@unc.edu.



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