Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977)

When the best chemistry in your film is between a secondary character and a stop-motion baboon, you should perhaps reconsider your casting choices.

Casting is one of several serious issues afflicting the third and final Harryhausen Sinbad.  Patrick Wayne (second son of the Duke) is a handsome man, but he's not got the screen presence of his father by any stretch of the imagination.  Coupled with the equally beautiful-but-bland Jane Seymour as his love interest, he struggles to hold your attention.

He's not helped by the script, which gives Sinbad himself very little to do.  The stop-motion baboon (actually a magically transformed prince) is the hero more often than not: it's the baboon who spots the evil sorceress when she sneaks aboard their ship, and the baboon who defuses a tense situation with a powerful troglodyte.  Sure, Sinbad has his 'moment' in the film's climactic battle, but in a stunningly obtuse decision, said battle occurs after the day has already been won.  Bizarre.

The film's script missteps in smaller ways, too: there is some painfully silly stuff, beginning with "there's a plague, so the town is quarantined at night".  Apparently the plague is nocturnal?  This turns out to be a lie, as it happens, but it's a rather stupid one.  There's also stuff like "my father and I can communicate by telepathy", an ability that will never ever be used again after that scene.  Oh, and the film features the most inept interrogation in cinema history.  Even moreso than those guys who get played by Black Widow in Avengers.  At least Widow was actively trying to trick them.  Finally, there's the Minoton, a cool bull-headed bronze statue that the sorceress animates.  Sinbad's totally gonna have to fight that bad boy right?  Well, maybe in a good movie.

I wish I'd enjoyed this film more - it includes a performance by Patrick Troughton, who remains favorite regeneration of The Doctor, so I was more than willing to like it - but it makes too many bad decisions, and ultimately ends the Sinbad trilogy with a whimper, not a bang.

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