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  Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger Just A... Tiny Amount
Year: 1977
Director: Sam Wanamaker
Stars: Patrick Wayne, Taryn Power, Margaret Whiting, Jane Seymour, Patrick Troughton, Kurt Christian, Nadim Sawalha, Damien Thomas, Bruno Barnabe, Bernard Kay, Salami Coker, David Sterne
Genre: Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 3 votes)
Review: Prince Kassim (Damien Thomas) is about to be crowned Caliph when an explosion rocks the palace throne room and something equally unexpected occurs. It so happens that intrepid sailor Sinbad (Patrick Wayne) has landed nearby with his crew anxious for leave, but they are to be let down when refused access inside the city walls. They soon discover this is because a plague has devastated the land, and the Prince has been transformed into a baboon by his wicked stepmother, Zenobia (Margaret Whiting) so that her son Rafi (Kurt Christian) can take his place. What can Sinbad do? Ask Princess Farah (Jane Seymour)...

This was the last Sinbad movie worked on by special effects master technician Ray Harryhausen, and he tried to pack as many of his trademark stop motion creatures as possible into yet another quest narrative. Yet maybe his techniques were beginning to look a little old hat, as this came out in the same year as the effects extravanganza Star Wars, a film much better recalled than this one. In fact, this film was running on pretty much the same lines as The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, and could be considered a sequel with similar sorcerer and quest motifs.

That said, there were attempts to go one better than the predecessor, with, for example, two nubile leading ladies instead of one: Seymour and Taryn Power, who played the daughter of wise old magician Melanthius (Patrick Troughton). He is the first stop on the tour to find the enchanted shrine where the Prince can be transformed back to his true form, and is perhaps the most important character because let's face it, Sinbad is a supporting character in his own film this time around. Playing second fiddle to the monsters and whatnot is bad enough, but Wayne is frequently outacted by his fellow cast members in the charisma stakes.

Troughton runs away with the acting honours, even making the cheesily cod-archaic dialogue sound like the most natural thing in the world, but Whiting offers an interesting female version of the Tom Baker wizard from before, in that her magic, while powerful, is not entirely beneficial to her. It actually proves her downfall if you think about it, not that I'm going to give the ending away here. She pursues Sinbad and company in her bronze Minotaur-fuelled ship, one of the many quirky but oddly authentic-feeling fantasy elements.

She doesn't catch up with them, mind you, but does transform herself into a seagull to spy on Sinbad's ship, the side effect being that when she returns to human form she is in miniature. In truth, the blue screen work here is a little shoddy when compared to the expressive animation on the creatures, especially in the actors' closeups, but it's stuff like the giant bee and the giant walrus you'll be concentrating on. When they finally reach their destination there's a nice twist on the usual monsters when they meet a troglodyte who they refreshingly make friends with instead of fighting. Not that the troglodyte doesn't get into a scrap (with the sabre-toothed tiger of the title during the finale), but he's welcome all the same. Harryhausen's two seventies films might not be his greatest, but there was no need to dismiss them out of hand: there's a lot to amuse here between the longueurs. Music by Roy Budd.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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