Friday, 24 May 2013

Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger (1977)

The last, and the least, of the Sinbad movies to involve the work of Ray Harryhausen, this not only fails to live up to the previous two movies, but also fails to live up to many other Harryhausen movies.

The plot sees Sinbad (played this time by Patrick Wayne) arriving at Charak, intending to ask the prince there (Damien Thomas) for permission to marry his beautiful sister (Farah, played by Jane Seymour). Unfortunately, nobody can  see the prince because of some apparent curse. When a bunch of nasty creatures attack Sinbad and his crew, he fights them off and is directly contacted by Farah. She tells him that she believes the prince to have been cursed by the devious Zenobia (Margaret Whiting) and only a very powerful magic may cure him if it can be found within seven moons. Sinbad and his crew set off in search of the powerful Melanthius (Patrick Troughton, who doesn't really show any magical powers at all) with Farah and the prince, who is stuck in his cursed form, that of a baboon. Of course, Zenobia is in hot pursuit.

There is just something lacking from almost every aspect of this movie. The direction from Sam Wanamaker is pretty flat and lifeless, despite the fantastical premise and the bright colours on display, while the script from Beverley Cross limps from one weak set-piece to the next, giving the distinct impression that all of the better ideas had already been used up in the previous two movies.

If the cast had a bit more gusto then perhaps it would all still have been moderately enjoyable, but Wayne is the worst of the three people to have played Sinbad in these movies and he's surrounded by an unmemorable mix of supporting players. Troughton is fun, I suppose, despite the apparent uselessness of his character, Whiting has fun as a villainess who kept making me think of Yzma from The Emperor's New Groove and Jane Seymour is certainly a lovely princess. Taryn Power and Kurt Christian (who was also in the previous adventure, as a different character) are just quite dull and lifeless, ill-served by the script.

At least fans of Harryhausen can always sit back and enjoy his work though, yes? Well, even that's a mixed bag this time around. The first creatures that attack Sinbad are fantastic, but they are the best thing in the film. The rest of the creatures shown onscreen range from the baboon prince to a troglodyte to an oversized wasp to a big walrus and one or two others. If you prefer to see Sinbad and company fighting against a big walrus when you could revisit the previous movie and watch him engage in a magnificent swordfight against the unforgettable Kali figure then that's your call, but I know what movie I would choose to revisit on a rainy day that sees me stuck indoors.

Sadly, it's just not a good film, though fans of magical fantasies will still find some enjoyment here.


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