Sinbad of the Seven Seas (1989)
When I was younger, I remember liking Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas and the Incredible Hulk TV Show. When I found the combination of the two (not really), I had to watch it.
I like 80's adventure movies (Indiana Jones, Clash of the Titans, The Neverending Story, etc.), so I thought I'd like Sinbad of the Seven Seas with Lou Ferrigno as Sinbad. I'm happy to say that I liked it for the right and the wrong reasons.
First, I should say that I haven't read the story of Sinbad before. Sinbad the Sailor is a character in One Thousand and One Nights, also known as Arabian Night. This is the same collection of stories that features Aladdin and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (Open Sesame!). Both the Dreamworks animated film and this film are in no way connected with One Thousand and One Nights. Sinbad of the Seven Seas starts by saying that this story is a work of Edgar Allen Poe called The Thousand and Second Tale of Scheherazade, adding on to Sinbad's adventures. It's similar to how modern authors write new stories in the "Cthulhu Mythos" start by H. P. Lovecraft.
The story is told as if a mother is reading it to her daughter, similar to the kid and his grandfather in The Princess Bride. This is the worst part of the movie, and it would be the only thing I would cut if I were to have any input on the movie. The reading is jarring and unnatural. It sounds more like a beginner's "teach yourself a foreign language" recording.
Normally, I'd excuse the narrator. Sinbad is on a fetch quest to collect gems to destroy Jaffar (Yes, that Jaffar). Rather than tediously showing us each new land, the narrator would briefly tell the audience why the crew is in this land and what they already know about it. Nowadays, we get CGI or helicopter flybys of the area that would add another 30-60 minutes to the runtime.
In Sinbad, the narrator overstays her welcome. She starts voice-overs mid-battle to describe what is happening on the screen and cuts off conversations. When she talks with her daughter in the voice-overs, she keeps the same "I am monotonously reading the script" tone rather than switching to a more casual voice. This is understandable, given that this movie was filmed in Italy with Italian-speaking actors, but it still killed my suspension of disbelief.
In the city of Basra, Jaffar has stolen the sacred gems that give the Caliph (think Islamic Pope) his power. He uses these gems to mesmerize the Caliph and control him.
When Sinbad shows up, Jaffar teleports four of the gems far away and has Sinbad and the crew imprisoned.
To escape the pit he was dropped into, Sinbad talks to a few snakes, grabs them, then ties them end-to-end to make a rope. At this moment, I knew there was no longer at escape; I had to watch this movie to the very end.
Sinbad then escapes and rescues the rest of the crew from the torture chamber. They escape on their ship to retrieve the sacred gems.
On their voyage, they will fight the Legions of Death whom Jaffar summons directly onto the desk of the ship, ...
the rock monster of Skull Island, ...
the lure of the Amazon Queen, ...
the Ghost Knights of the Island of the Dead, ...
and a slime monster that shoots lasers.
Sinbad defeats the slime monster by literally standing still.
|Lou Ferrigno plays the hero who can out-wrestle a rock and inflate a hot air balloon with his lungs.|
|Wields a weapon with a giant hammer on one end and a spiked mace on the other.|
|The Chinese soldier of fortune who fights with martial arts and looks like Alfalfa wearing a rainbow.|
|The cook who also makes the medicine on the ship. Sinbad refers to him by the name "Ahmed [something vaguely Greek]" one time. He's part of the comic relief duo. He's not a fighter.|
|The other half of the comic relief duo. He is also not a fighter. He can sneak around without detection to support the rest of the crew.|
|He is a skilled swordsman and the love interest of Princess Alina.|
|She spends the whole movie on a table in Jaffar's machine for reasons I no longer remember. I think he was trying to break her spirit to access the fifth gem or something like that.|
Nadir was stranded on the Island of the Dead when his hot air balloon crashed. He speaks in a language only Kira can understand. He understands everyone else, though.
Also, he can't do magic. He's a comic relief character.
|Nadir's daughter who volunteers to help Sinbad off the Island of the Dead. It's hinted that her and Sinbad may form a relationship.|
|He is normally the benevolent ruler, but Jaffar used magic to control him like a puppet.|
She acts as Jaffar's assistant once he takes over. She warns him that she's not on anybody's side, including his. She's on her side, doing what she needs to stay on the top. At the end of the movie, nothing happens to her as she returns to her normal position once Jaffar is defeated (I don't think there needs to be a spoiler warning for that).
She's less of a character and more of an audience stand-in for Jaffar to explain things to.
Jaffar is by far the best character of the movie. He just enjoys being evil so much. John Steiner overacts just enough to make Jaffar stand out as a great comic book-type villain without becoming a parody.
If for some reason you watch this movie and think it's dull, don't shut it off. If anything, fast-forward until you see Jaffar on the screen again.
Who is this movie for?
If you liked Masters of the Universe (the movie with Dolph Lundgren), you will probably like Sinbad of the Seven Seas. If you replaced the 80's sci-fi setting with the setting of the Odyssey with Armand Assante, you have this movie. The characters even seem analogous to Masters of the Universe.
- He-Man - Sinbad
- Evil-Lyn - Soukra
- Skeletor - Jaffar
Sinbad of the Seven Seas has one of the cheesiest soundtracks I can think of. The typical background music sounds like one guy playing a synthesizer. The fight scene music wouldn't sound out of place in Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon. I enjoyed it.
One thing I can see bothering some people is every word of the movie is dubbed. If you read their lips, everybody is speaking English, but the audio is recorded from a different source, so the timings and volumes are a little off.
Also, this happens in the movie right before Lou Ferrigno has to fight himself: