Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003)

There's no shortage of things to talk about with DreamWorks Animation. Sinbad is a lean 80 minutes brought down by a mean title character who leaves the strengths of his film elsewhere. Sinbad's (Brad Pitt) journey is to return The Book of Peace, from Eris The God of Chaos (Michelle Pfeiffer). This is so Sinbad's friend Proteus (Joseph Fiennes), this film's "Socrates," and that's actually meant with complete sincerity, won't take his place in his death sentence.

First of all, this friendship is based in exposition, and not the fun, improvised exposition from The Road to El Dorado. Second of all, Sinbad's actually starts on this mission because Proteus's fiancee, Marina (Catherine Zeta Jones) is keeping an eye on him. The film goes out of its way to make him unlikeable and even further to never give us a good backstory on why. It's basically because...it's expected of pirates, even though the rest of his crew seems like a stand-up bunch. If he had a few better, wittier lines, all of which are at least well-performed, he'd be acceptable.

The humor's actually pretty funny, when it's not blended with the action, forced, homophobic (albeit, it was a different time). DreamWork's trademark adult humor lands pretty well. There's even a silly nipple joke that's reminiscent of a classic episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The jokes generally just aren't sharp enough, and it's easy to assume that script needed a polish in that area.

Jumping back to the action, it's very solid. The camera and editing quickly draw viewers in with attention-grabbing, but not distracting movement early on. The cgi backgrounds and creatures that back the set-pieces up haven't aged well, but they're also a product of the time, and some beginning animators may find the models endearing. (Personally, as a failed animator, I do).

The action also has a certain restraint that I noted was in the entire final act of The Road to El Dorado. Please watch this film's siren-song scene and compare it with Ice Age Four's. This one is actually creative with how the crew reacts to the creatures, as it's a slow burn to their potential demise and not being instantly lust-struck. The creatures themselves, liquid beings, are actually alluring and good vocalists.

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is great for making comparisons, but when a road movie, it's not much of one, but it is one, doesn't tell the audience how close the characters are to the destination, and then rushes back to the starting point, the script needs to be started from scratch. While the ending of the film doesn't make these issues worse, and are a bit redemptive, Sinbad could've started stronger. This would be DreamWorks last 2d film, so they should've ended on a high note.

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