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  Golden Voyage of Sinbad, The Page The OracleBuy this film here.
Year: 1974
Director: Gordon Hessler
Stars: John Phillip Law, Caroline Munro, Tom Baker, Douglas Wilmer, Martin Shaw, Grégoire Aslan, Kurt Christian, Takis Emmanuel, David Garfield, Robert Shaw
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: The ship of Sinbad (John Phillip Law) is afloat in the Indian Ocean when its crew notices a strange flying creature carrying a shiny object overhead. They call their captain and while he discusses what to do one of the sailors takes aim with his bow and arrow and shoots at it, causing the creature to drop the object onto the deck. Sinbad goes over, but the others warn him not to touch it as surely it is a bad omen. Nevertheless, what appears to be a medallion is soon around his neck, but then he suffers the mysterious vision of a female form with an eye in her palm: it must mean something...

It means another adventure for Sinbad, of course. And also the special effects of master technician Ray Harryhausen get another work out, which was always a welcome sight for cult movie fans and if this was pretty much an attempt to reclaim past glories then at least the monsters on show displayed the same degree of imagination as they had from before. It's just that the script, written by Brian Clemens from a story by him and Harryhausen, is a little too straightforward and Sinbad's swashbuckling didn't come across as quite so fresh.

What the film did have in its favour as far as the cast went was a brooding Tom Baker, soon to be Doctor Who on television (this film supposedly helped win him that iconic role) and swathed in makeup and robes as the villainous sorcerer Koura. He has an unusual quirk as far as his wizardry goes in that whenever he uses his spells he ages a little, and if it's a big spell he ages a lot meaning he has to hunt down the amulet, of which Sinbad now has a piece, and take it to its destination before he runs out of life force. Our hero ends up at the court of a gold-helmeted Grand Vizier (Douglas Wilmer) who outlines what to do.

And that is to escort him and the pieces of the amulet to the remote island of Lemuria where they may be used to save the kingdom from the scheming of Koura thanks to a magical fountain. Before they get there they have to endure the sea voyage, and once Sinbad has invited along a mysterious but beautiful slave girl he frees (Caroline Munro, naturally) the epic journey can commence. The ex-slave girl, Margarina - sorry, Margiana - has a eye tattoo on the palm of one hand, which must mean something significant, although really it's just an excuse to get a pretty lady into the film.

However, it is the special effects that you'll be watching this for, and as is customary with Harryhausen they don't disappoint. Starting with not one but two homunculi (that's what the sailors saw at the start), they only get bigger, the highlight being the animated statue of the goddess Kali, who brandishes swords in each of her six arms and provides a formidable adversary as well as being an excellent example of the art of Harryhausen. Add in a wooden figurehead on the rampage on the ship, plus a centaur and a gryphon (which fight each other) and there's plenty to catch the eye, but the dips in excitement between these setpieces are undeniable. Add to that some Arabian accents that sound more Peter Sellers doing "Goodness Gracious Me" and the voyage may be more tinsel than gold, but it's diverting enough. Music by Miklós Rózsa.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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