Wednesday, July 20, 2016

#2,148. Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977)

Directed By: Sam Wanamaker

Starring: Patrick Wayne, Jane Seymour, Taryn Power

Tag line: "New!! Sinbad's Boldest And Most Daring Adventure!"

Trivia: After the live action filming was done, it took animator Ray Harryhausen almost 1½ years to do the animation

The third and final chapter in the Sinbad Trilogy, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger was released in 1977, around the same time that another fantasy film known as Star Wars (or Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) hit the scene. While Star Wars represented a leap forward in movie special effects, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger relied on stop-motion animation, which had been around since the days of silent pictures. 

Fortunately, the man responsible for creating Sinbad’s effects was Ray Harryhausen, who, despite specializing in such a time-honored, "archaic" process, always found a way to make it seem fresh.

Sinbad (played this time around by Patrick Wayne) has come to the port city of Charak to pay a visit to his good friend Prince Kassim (Damien Thomas) and his sister, Princess Farah (Jane Seymour), who also happens to be the famous sailor’s girlfriend. 

Arriving several days after the scheduled coronation of Kassim as Caliph, Sinbad assumes the Prince is now the ruler of the city. But thanks to the evil witch Zenobia (Margaret Whiting), step-mother to the Prince and Princess, the coronation was never completed. It is Zenobia’s wish that her own son Rafi (Kurt Christian) be made Caliph, so as the crown was about to be placed on Kassim’s head, she used her magic to transform the Prince into a baboon!

With nowhere else to turn, Princess Farah begs Sinbad to help her brother. To this end, Sinbad gathers his crew - as well as Kassim and Farah - and sets sail for the Greek island of Casgar, rumored home of the brilliant alchemist Melanthius (Patrick Troughton). Though unable to break Zenobia’s spell himself, Melanthius, who lives alone with his daughter Dione (Taryn Power), recommends they brave the icy waters of the North and visit the remains of the once-great city of Hyperborea, where an advanced race known as the Arimaspi resided. 

It’s Melanthius’ belief that the town’s sacred temple may hold the secret to changing Kassim back to his former self. With time slipping away (if Kassim isn’t made Caliph by the seventh full moon, Rafi will instead be crowned), the group heads north. What they don’t realize, however, is that Zenobia and Rafi, along with their mechanical servant the Minotaun, are following close behind, and plan to reach the Temple before our heroes.

As with Harryhausen’s previous films, including the first two Sinbad movies (7th Voyage and Golden Voyage), the best moments in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger feature his stop-motion artistry. We get a few original creations, like the Minotaun (for close-ups, actor Peter Mayhew, AKA Chewbacca in the Star Wars films, wore the Minotaun suit) and the Troglodyte, an ancestor of mankind that is several stories tall. Yet some of Harryhausen’s most impressive work involves not mythical creatures, but real-life ones. The animation he provides for the baboon version of Kassim is stunning (there are moments when you believe you’re watching a real animal), and while the fight with the giant Walrus isn’t particularly exciting, the final battle, in which the Troglodyte squares off against a Sabretooth Tiger, is as thrilling as they come.

Along with the animation, I enjoyed the adventure at the heart of Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Sure, the story  isn’t particularly original; there are scenes that could have easily been lifted from any number of earlier fantasy films. Yet it still managed to hold my attention. In some of Harryhausen’s lesser movies, I found myself impatiently waiting for his next animated sequence, not caring much about the quest at the heart of it all (Golden Voyage of Sinbad is one example). This was not the case with Eye of the Tiger

With the ushering in of high-tech computer graphics and outer space adventures, the film's tale of swordplay and ancient magic undoubtedly seemed antiquated to some back in 1977. As for me, even in 2016, I had an absolute blast watching this movie! 

In fact, I’m kind of sad that Harryhausen didn’t have a fourth Sinbad film in him.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Why didn't Survivor write the theme song for this movie instead? It would have made more sense than a Rocky movie. Ha ha. Seriously, good review. Now I am intrigued just for the Harryhausen effect.