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'Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas'

'Sinbad' lacks plot and humor

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

By Scott Mervis, Post-Gazette Weekend Editor

Word is that Dreamworks went into a tizzy when Disney's "Treasure Planet" went down like "Titanic" at the box office.

 
 
"Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas"

Rating: PG for adventure action, some mild sensuality and brief language

Starring: Voices of Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer.

Director: Tim Johnson, Patrick Gilmore

Critic's call:

   
 

Dreamworks, in the midst of crafting its own high-seas adventure combining traditional and computer animation, changed the original poster so the two movies wouldn't be confused.

The best you can say for "Sinbad," by comparison, is that the ships don't fly. And Dreamworks didn't skimp on the talent, beginning with John Logan, who wrote the screenplay for "Gladiator," and Russell Crowe, who was replaced by Brad Pitt. Pit him with Joseph Fiennes, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michelle Pfeiffer and you have one very good-looking cast. Too bad we don't see them.

Pfeiffer plays against type as Eris, goddess of chaos, who is stirring up all the trouble. Her plot is to turn Sinbad against his old friend Proteus, the Prince of Syracuse, in order to steal the coveted Book of Peace. Without it, the shimmering Syracuse crumbles into darkness.

When Eris manages to frame Sinbad for the theft, he is sentenced to death. For no other reason than to thicken the plot, which is based loosely on ... something or other, Proteus vouches for him and will take the same penalty if Sinbad does not reclaim the book in 10 days, a ridiculously short stretch of time in the world of swashbuckling.

Sinbad's intent to sail his crew off for vacation in Fiji is thwarted when Marina, Proteus' matchmade bride-to-be, stows away to lure him onto the right course. Next thing you know, Sinbad not only has his freedom, he has Proteus' girl. What a guy!

But Sinbad's dilemma is that the only way to keep her is to betray his bad pirate self and do the honorable thing. That means risking his life against all the Ray Harryhausen sea monsters Eris can throw at him.

All in all, it has its moments, but it's a fairly uneventful trip to the theater. It doesn't break any ground in animation, and it lacks the humor of "The Road to El Dorado" and the compelling storytelling of "Spirit," to compare it with Dreamworks' two other Disney-style animations.

While Pfeiffer and Jones bring some zest to their roles, Pitt doesn't have the vocal command to play a rogue pirate. Crowe would have been a better choice but still couldn't have spared this "Sinbad."

The problem is: Little kids aren't going to be able to follow the story, and the big ones simply aren't going to care.


Scott Mervis can be reached at smervis@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2576.

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