Throughout this film, I was wondering “the guy they got to play Sinbad seems a little small, bald and unimposing to be playing one of literature’s greatest heroes” until the end credits rolled and I realised that Sinbad was also the film’s writer, producer and director, Shahin Sean Solimon. Hey, he went and got funding and made a film of his pet project, and all I did was buy a pad of paper so I could criticise him. He wins.
As a kid, Ray Harryhausen’s “Sinbad” movies were my favourites – I always preferred them to Star Wars, which is the thing most other kids my age loved (although I liked Star Wars just fine). “The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad”, “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” and “Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger” are full of larger than life characters, great adventure, revolutionary special effects and still look amazing today. So, to make a film in 2014 which claims to stand in Harryhausen’s tradition, you’d better come correct. Action! Heroism! Cool looking monsters! A bit of Arabian flavour! These are the things we Sinbad fans crave.
Unfortunately, what this film gave us was a quiet, unassuming lead, a bunch of completely interchangeable cannon-fodder crew, a story which was just a bunch of scenes vaguely strung together (and most of which you’ll remember from earlier, better films) and, strangest of all, special effects which manage to look cheaper and worse than those done over 50 years ago! The story also manages to be confusing right from the off by having a scene, then a “Many Years Later”, then one scene later “24 hours earlier”, and has flashbacks running through the film which aren’t in chronological order either.
The plot is, Sinbad is trying to rescue his betrothed, who’s been kidnapped by an evil wizard. He and his crew try and track him down, all the crew die without putting up a fight, then Sinbad kind-of tricks a genie to teleport him the rest of the way to her. But the genie just sort of gets him close, for no reason other than they’ve got five more minutes they need to fill. By the way, the “Sinbad and the genie discuss the rules of wishing” is perhaps the dullest few minutes in recent film history. But I digress.
Patrick Stewart is top billed, in his role as narrator. His voice is great, naturally, but his narration is maybe 5-10 minutes of screen time, and he probably did it in the taxi on his way from one job to another. Also, he’s narrating things as future Sinbad, so it’s sort of odd to know that when he gets old, Sinbad’s accent will change from slightly middle-Eastern into a posh old English fella.
The moment a skeleton came out to fight Sinbad, I booed at the screen. The skeleton fight from Harryhausen’s “Jason And The Argonauts” is in my top 10 scenes of all time, a classic piece of moviemaking that still excites over half a century later. Don’t believe me? Thanks, Youtube!
“Sinbad: The Fifth Voyage” has two skeletons, one of which lasts about five seconds. If that’s all you can do, just give up. Use a different scene. Do not remind us of one of the greatest scenes of all time in your bad movie.
So there’s an underwhelming hero, a terrible baddie who can’t act worth a damn, rotten special effects, a confusing plot, and narration which is so out of place it makes the movie seem worse. And it barely qualifies as a movie! 79 minutes listed, but 10 minutes of that is credits, and there’s a not-short opening credits scene as well.
I’m not so much annoyed that it’s bad, although it’s really bad, I’m more annoyed it exists at all. If you’re going to do a Sinbad movie, go big or go home. Or, don’t try and copy a master and just do your own thing with one of the other stories. Looking at it on IMDB, where it currently sits at 6.5 / 10 with 4300 voters, makes me think someone got a heck of a lot of their friends to vote 10. Heck, this is even worse than Asylum’s Sinbad movie!
Rating: thumbs down