A Voyage into Harryhausen
When I was growing up the age of the computer effects was beckoning and the use of stop motion was pretty much over, those old movies which featured stop-motion monsters were shown on TV but compared to the early CGI they looked tacky. Ironically it is only now, many years later, that I have truly come to appreciate the stop motion work of these old adventure movies and the work of visual effects legend Ray Harryhausen. And that brings me to "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" which not only features some of Harryhausen's best work but also a lot of it and more importantly a good storyline to support it all. In fact there is really only one thing wrong with this late 1950s adventure movie and that is some of the acting is so cheesy that it borders on the comical.
Heading back across the ocean to Baghdad with his bride to be Princess Parisa (Kathryn Grant - The Big Circus) aboard, Sinbad (Kerwin Mathews) is well aware that his men are desperate for food and water which is why he takes the risk of stopping at an unknown island. It is there that he meets Sokurah the Magician (Torin Thatcher) and The Genie (Richard Eyer) as well as the fearsome cloven hoofed Cyclops who chases after them. In everyone's frantic attempt to leave the Magician drops the magic lamp containing The Genie which Sinbad refuses to return for. But when they reach Baghdad the Magician forces Sinbad to head back with him and a crew to the island by shrinking Princess Parisa to a tiny being and refusing to return her to normal unless he helps.
So first things first "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" has a great storyline because it really has that fantasy element from the Cyclops, the Magician turning a woman into a serpent, a dragon and two headed birds this is the stuff of a fantasy adventure. And so whilst the actual storyline of Sinbad forced to help the Magician is a simple one all the various episodes from mutinies to close encounters make it one excitement after another. I suppose the only thing which is missing for me is that whilst we have action this isn't a swashbuckling Sinbad like that of Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in "Sinbad, the Sailor"".
But whilst "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" has a more than adequate story the real reason why it is so good is because it is full of visual effects and stop motion work. When we meet the Cyclops for the first time it is impressive but then Harryhausen surpasses this when we then see the Magician turn a maid into a mutli armed serpent which is staggering. And so it goes on because there are more and more of these visual effects using stop motion including what is a pretty brilliant swordfight with a skeleton. Whilst there are other movies where the detail of Harryhausen's work is better for the sheer number of stop motion scenes and the entertainment of them "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" is a must watch.
The trouble is that "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" is let down by one thing and that is the acting, whilst Kathryn Grant is good as Princess Parisa and Kerwin Mathews is okay as Sinbad the supporting cast really let it down. There is too much over acting and it ends up very cheesy to the point there are scenes which border on the pantomime, they are that funny for being forced. And it is a shame because the acting is at times so bad that it becomes annoying.
What this all boils down to is that "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" is a much watch for fans of Ray Harryhausen's stop motion visual effects. But whilst the numerous scenes featuring monsters will entertain aw will the story some of the acting will end up being aggravating and painful, ruining what could have been a great movie.