A Film Review By Jason L. King
|Rating: Rated PG for adventure action, some mild sensuality and brief language
Starring The Voices of: Brad Pitt, Michelle Pfeiffer, Catherine Zeta Jones
Directed By:Patrick Gilmore, Tim Johnson
In my years in the movie business I met a young boy who grew up watching every Disney movie. He loved them all, let me rephrase that, he worshiped them. His dream was to become an animator himself, become one of Mickey’s Minions and live out his life long dream of animating his own film just as Walt Disney did years before. No matter what the critics thought, Kyle was never afraid to voice his opinion of an animated feature, always positive, even if the movie was bad pointing out the finer points of the flick, whether it be a good moral behind it or the visual beauty of the hand drawn characters. Kyle is now in California trying to live out his dream, attending an animation school in hopes that he still will get a chance to animate his own feature. But the recent successes of animated features have him a little worried. Animators are being laid off, and the claim is there isn’t a demand for “traditional” animation anymore. Times have changed, the age of the computer-generated heroes are here. But that doesn’t stop animators from still struggling to find that one hit that will prove the executives wrong. As new animated features come out every animator and animator wannabe hopes that this may be the flick that will guarantee their job at least for a few more years.
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas was Dreamworks latest attempt at saving the animated feature. They brought in Big names like Brad Pitt and Catherine Zeta Jones and Michelle Pfeiffer to be the voices of their characters. They even tried to mix some of the new CGI technology into their hand drawn animation to make a box office success. But the real question is did they do it?
The Story is a tight little story that has a good sound message behind it. Sinbad is accused of stealing “The Book of Peace” and is to be executed. But his childhood friend, the heir to the throne, believes so strongly in Sinbad that he offers himself to be executed instead if Sinbad is set free. The counsel agrees with reluctance, and Sinbad sets sail with his crew to find the Book of Peace and save his friend. Sinbad’s travels take him to “The Realm of Chaos” where he has to bargain with an evil goddess to get the book back and return it in time to save his friend.
The story has so much potential because of the characters. Sinbad’s character is a man who really shouldn’t be trusted at all. His past is filled full of lies, deceit and thievery yet it is his childhood friend who still can see “the inner good” in Sinbad and tries to give Sinbad a chance to redeem him. The story makes sure that we know that Sinbad is NOT a good character. He is in a constant battle with himself, and always has more trouble convincing himself to do the Right thing instead of the wrong. Sinbad’s friend is there to show us that despite their past or their actions, there is still good in all people, and it is our job to see through their wrong doings and give them a second chance. It’s a nice little message for a kid’s flick (even though it may be a little untrue in some cases) And our female character, Eris, is the inked version of a feminist proving to Sinbad and his crew that Girls Can do whatever men can do without being to overly obnoxious of a character. The Characters make this story fun to watch even though you already know the happy outcome. It’s got just enough adventure and fun in it to keep a young ones interest and a good enough story line so it doesn’t make the parents want their time back. As far as plot and character development goes, Sinbad gets an A on a grading scale.
The problem with Sinbad can be narrowed down to two things, visual issues and marketing. Visually the movie if they would have stuck to either CGI animation or hand draw animation. There is fluctuation between the two of them, and you can see noticeable differences. The 2 dimensional Humans are surrounded by what looks like 3-D world just looks silly. Don’t get me wrong, the backgrounds and CG works nice, but it just doesn’t quite match up with the 2-D animated characters and their boat at times.
The second problem is their marketing. What marketing you ask? My point exactly. No one knew Sinbad existed. Dreamworks didn’t give it near as much exposure as they did “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron” last year. Every where you turned for a few months there was a “Spirit” something or other. Sinbad didn’t get that kind of money pumped into it. Instead they just cursed its name because it isn’t making enough money and how it may kill traditional animation for Dreamworks. They headlined it with Brad Pitt as a voice. Now I realize Pitt is an A list star but it’s his voice. People don’t go to Brad Pitt movies for his voice! But in the end, The story is good, the plot is good and the characters are decent. The animation on the other hand needs to decide what it wants to be. It’s not sure what style it’s using and detracts from the overall film. So after Sinbad the real question is: Are audiences just getting tired of Traditional animation or is it because of bad animation choices or a series of bad story lines? My theory is that the answer is the latter. Sinbad isn’t bad if given a chance, but it’s not Grade animation either. Killing off traditional animation shouldn’t be the end result because of lackluster box office numbers for films like these, instead they should be attempting to correct their problems so children for generations to come can enjoy CGI Animated Flicks, as well as the old style hand drawn animation just the way Walt Disney did years ago…