The latest DreamWorks animated feature film, "Sinbad: The legend of the seven seas", plays like an Indiana Jones adventure set in the ocean without any of the thrills and all of the bickering between characters. It has a hard time balancing its mythical setup with characters that seem oddly out of place, as if they belonged in a more modern setting.
In the opening moments of the film, the ship of Prince Proteus (voiced by Joseph Fiennes) is attacked by Sinbad (voiced by Brad Pitt), who is attempting to steal the book of peace that the prince is trying to deliver to his homeland. We learn that not only are the two friends, but also that Sinbad has just returned from a decade in hiding. Apparently the book is the key to restoring peace and tranquility and a means of protection for 12 cities. Manipulated by Eris, the Goddess of Discord (a seductress, voiced by Michelle Pfeiffer) impressive looking sea creatures attack and Sinbad's plans and intentions are thwarted, letting Proteus reach home safely.
Here, at a ceremony, where Sinbad and his crew of ragtag are also present, Eris manages to steal the book, which is being guarded, while impersonating as Sinbad. Soon Sinbad is in hot water, and a death sentence is imposed on him. On confessing his innocence, he is allowed to leave the city for 10 days to get back the book, while Proteus is to be kept imprisoned in his place, much to the dismay of the King. Assisting Sinbad and company is Proteus' fiancée, Marina (feisty Catherine Zeta-Jones).
With mixed results, an adventure of sorts ensues. For some reason, this reworking of Sinbad conveniently chooses to detach from its Arab roots almost completely. What results is a journey, save for one sequence in a desert, which could belong to any heritage. In an attempt to create a truly cosmopolitan character, we get a character without much soul. Sinbad is essentially Brad Pitt or Brad Pitt is Sinbad, whichever you'd like to believe.
While the movie never sinks to the depth of other summer sequel disappointments, it is never original or inspiring, something that can be gauged from fact that the dog on board is named Spike (how original!). Eris, the Goddess, is as God like as she can be, with sequences showing her omnipotence and omnipresence as well. This is all the more puzzling since she goes through a lot of trouble to steal the book, which should be like, well, stealing candy from a baby.
The movies humor also never manages to rise beyond the ordinary. It is funny enough to make you smile or chuckle, but lacks any consistency. The animation, while a marked improvement over previous DreamWorks features, alternates between being very impressive and breathtaking, such as the superb sequence with the ice eagle, and being just plain bland.
By the end, the movie feels like a road trip (or a sea trip in this case), with each exciting sequence being nothing more than a canvas for Eris to play around with. Perhaps the fact that much of the movie is focused on the ship and its journey featuring mediocre characters makes it seem duller than it really is. To its credit, the film provides a thoughtful and bold last act and conclusion. However, seeing as to how the prime audience of the film is mostly young children, it's likely to confuse rather than amuse them. - Faizan Rashid