Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is a 2003 American animated adventure film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by DreamWorks Pictures, using traditional animation with some computer animation. It was directed by Tim Johnson and Patrick Gilmore from a screenplay by John Logan, and stars the voices of Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Joseph Fiennes. The film covers the story of Sinbad (voiced by Pitt), a pirate who travels the sea to recover the lost Book of Peace from Eris (voiced by Pfeiffer) to save his childhood friend, Prince Proteus (voiced by Fiennes), from accepting Sinbad's death sentence. The film blends elements from the 1001 Arabian Nights and classical myths.
Legend of the Seven Seas
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tim Johnson|
|Produced by||Jeffrey Katzenberg|
|Screenplay by||John Logan|
|Based on||Sinbad the Sailor|
|Music by||Harry Gregson-Williams|
|Edited by||Tom Finan|
|Distributed by||DreamWorks Pictures|
|Box office||$80.7 million|
The film was released on July 2, 2003 and received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the voice performances but criticized the CGI animation and storyline. Grossing $80.7 million on a $60 million budget, Sinbad is considered the biggest box office bomb of 2003. DreamWorks suffered a $125 million loss on a string of films in 2003, which nearly bankrupted the company and caused it to abandon traditional animation in favor of computer animation.
Sinbad and his pirate crew attempt to steal the magical "Book of Peace" and hold it for ransom as one last job before retiring to Fiji. Sinbad is surprised to see it is being protected while on board to Syracuse, Sicily by Prince Proteus of Syracuse. Proteus was once Sinbad's best friend as a child and he tells him if it ever meant anything he can prove it. Sinbad tries to steal the book anyway, but is prevented when Cetus attacks the ship. The two work together to fight off Cetus and for a moment reaffirm their bond. Just when it seems the beast is defeated, Sinbad is dragged off the ship. Proteus goes to save Sinbad, but he is stopped by his crew.
Drawn underwater by Cetus, Sinbad is saved by the beautiful Goddess of Discord, Eris, who offers him any boon he desires in exchange for the Book of Peace. Sinbad and his crew go to Syracuse to steal the Book, but leave without doing so. Anticipating this, Eris impersonates Sinbad and steals the Book. Sinbad is sentenced to death, whereupon Proteus sends Sinbad to retrieve the Book instead, placing himself as a hostage, and Proteus' fiancée Lady Marina goes to make sure that Sinbad succeeds. To prevent them from succeeding, Eris sends a group of mythical sirens, who entrance and seduce the men aboard Sinbad's ship with their hypnotic singing voices, but do not affect Marina, who pilots the ship to safety. The Goddess of Discord later sends a Roc which captures Marina, but she is rescued by Sinbad.
After these and other incidents, Sinbad and Marina talk in a brief moment of peace - Marina reveals that she's always dreamed of a life on the sea, and Sinbad reveals that he distanced himself from Proteus 10 years earlier because he loved Marina. They suddenly then reach and enter Eris' realm where she reveals that her plan was to maneuver Proteus into Sinbad's place, leaving Syracuse without an heir, and agrees to surrender the Book of Peace only if Sinbad truthfully tells whether he will return to Syracuse to accept blame and be executed if he does not get the Book. She gives him her word that she will honour the deal, making it unbreakable even for a god. When he answers that he will return, Eris calls him a liar, and returns him and Marina to the mortal world. Ashamed, Sinbad admits the Goddess of Discord is right, truly believing deep down that he is a selfish, black-hearted liar.
In Syracuse, the time allotted to Sinbad has elapsed. Proteus readies himself to be beheaded, but at the last minute, Sinbad appears and takes his place. An enraged Eris appears suddenly and saves Sinbad by shattering the executioner's sword to pieces. Sinbad, shocked, realizes that this was still part of her test and that he has beaten her by proving his answer to be true after all. Eris is furious but cannot go back on her word and gives the book to Sinbad. Eris then leaves to cause chaos elsewhere. With the true culprit revealed, Sinbad is pardoned for the crime of stealing the book and is now well-respected.
With the Book restored to Syracuse, Sinbad and his crew prepare to leave on another voyage, leaving Marina in Syracuse. Unbeknownst to him, Proteus sees that Marina has fallen deeply in love with Sinbad and life on the sea and releases her from their engagement, sending her to join Sinbad's ship. Marina surprises Sinbad by revealing her presence on the ship just as it begins to sail, and the two share a kiss. Now together, they and the crew set out on another long voyage as the ship sails into the sunset.
Shortly after co-writing Aladdin (1992), screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio came up with the idea of adapting the story of Sinbad the Sailor in the vein of the story of Damon and Pythias before settling on a love triangle. They wrote a treatment that was inspired by screwball romantic comedy films in which Sinbad was depicted as a reserved apprentice mapmaker who joins Peri, a free-spirited female smuggler, on an adventure and fall in love. In July 1992, Disney had announced they were adapting the story into a potential animated feature.
Shortly after writing Gladiator (2000), John Logan was approached by Jeffrey Katzenberg to write the script for an animated film. When he was offered the story of Sinbad, Logan researched the multiple tales of the character before settling on depicting the Greek and Roman versions. He described his first draft script as "very complex, the relationships were very adult – it was too intense in terms of the drama for the audience that this movie was aimed at."
Russell Crowe was originally going to voice Sinbad, but he dropped out due to scheduling problems. He was replaced by Brad Pitt, who wanted to make a film his nieces and nephews could see. He explained: "They can't get into my movies. People's heads getting cut off, and all that." Pitt had already tried to narrate DreamWorks' previous animated film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, but "it didn't work," with Matt Damon taking over the role. Pitt's purist intentions worried him that his Missourian accent would not be suitable for his Middle Eastern character. Despite that, the film-makers persuaded him that his accent would lighten the mood.
Michelle Pfeiffer, who voices Eris, the goddess of chaos, had struggles with finding the character's villainies. Initially the character was "too sexual," then she lacked fun. After the third rewrite, Pfeiffer called Jeffrey Katzenberg and told him "You know, you really can fire me," but he assured her that this was just part of the process.
In January 2001, it was reported that DreamWorks Animation would completely transfer their animation workflow into using the Linux operating system. Previously, their animation and rendering software had used Silicon Graphics Image servers and workstations, but as their hardware began to show slowness, DreamWorks began looking for an alternate platform for superior optimal performance in order to save hardware costs. In 2002, they decided to partner with Hewlett-Packard for a three-year deal for which they used their dual-processor HP workstations and ProLiant servers running Red Hat Linux software. Starting with Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002), they had replaced its entire render farm with x86-based Linux servers.
With Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, it was the first DreamWorks Animation production to completely utilized Linux software, in which more than 250 workstations were used. Starting with storyboards, the artists first sketched on paper to visualize the scene which are later edited into an animatic. For the character animation, the rough character sketches are passed through the ToonShooter software, which digitized the sketches. From that point, the animators can easily integrate the animation into existing scenes. Production software lead Derek Chan explained, "ToonShooter is an internal tool we wrote for Linux. It captures low resolution 640 x 480 line art that the artists use to time the film." The animated characters were then digitally colored using the Linux software application, InkAndPaint.
For the visual effects, DreamWorks Animation had used Autodesk Maya to create water effects. However, the rendering was found to be too photorealistic, in which senior software engineer for advanced R&D future films Galen Gornowicz sought to modify the effects to closely match the movie's visual development renderings. Craig Ring, who served as digital supervisor on the film, sought four major approaches to water used in the film. The approaches were to composite ripple distortion over the painted backgrounds; create fluid simulation; develop a rapid slashing technique used to create a surface and then send ripples through the surface; and better integrate the 3D visual effects with stylized, hand drawn splashes.
A PC game based on the film was released by Atari, who worked closely with one of the film's directors, Patrick Gilmore. It was released before the VHS and DVD release of the film. Burger King released six promotional toys at the time of the film's release, and each toy came with a "Constellation Card". Hasbro produced a series of Sinbad figures as part of its G.I. JOE action figure brand. The figures were 12" tall and came with a mythical monster.
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas was released on DVD and VHS on November 18, 2003 by DreamWorks Home Entertainment. The DVD included a six-minute interactive short animated film Cyclops Island, featuring an encounter with the eponymous Cyclops. In July 2014, the film's distribution rights were purchased by DreamWorks Animation from Paramount Pictures (owners of the pre-2005 DreamWorks Pictures library) and transferred to 20th Century Fox before reverting to Universal Studios in 2018; Universal Pictures Home Entertainment subsequently released the film on Blu-ray Disc on June 4, 2019 with the Cyclops Island short removed.
Cyclops Island (also known as Sinbad and the Cyclops Island) is a traditionally animated interactive short film that acts as a sequel to Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, taking place shortly after the events of the previous film.
Instead of travelling to Fiji, Sinbad and his crew decide to spend their vacation on the tropical island of Krakatoa. While attempting to find a source of fresh water on the island, Marina and Spike run into a tribe of Cyclops who they have to defeat with the help of Sinbad, Kale and Rat. When Sinbad dislodges a large boulder during the fight, a volcano erupts and the island goes down in flames. Marina then suggests looking for a nicer destination for their next holiday, such as Pompeii.
While watching the short film on DVD, the viewer can choose to follow different characters to see different angles of the same story. The viewer can follow Sinbad, the duo of Kale and Rat, Marina, or Spike. Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Dennis Haysbert, and Adriano Giannini all reprised their roles from the original film. On VHS releases, the short film takes place after the movie ends before the credits roll and is placed in its entirety.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 45% based on 125 reviews with an average rating of 5.63/10. The site's consensus reads: "Competent, but not magical." Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, has a score of 48 based on 33 reviews indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter praised the film writing that "Sinbad is a cartoon that does what matinee moviemakers of old never had the resources to do: allow their imagination to run amok in an ancient world that never existed -- but should have." He praised the animation and backgrounds as "lushly rendered by the animation artists, displaying details not only from the world according to Ray Harryhausen; but from the Greco-Roman world and Middle East. As with all good animation, these serve as backdrops to the comedy and adventure the characters encounter every second." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 31⁄2 stars and concluded that "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is another worthy entry in the recent renaissance of animation, and in the summer that has already given us Finding Nemo, it's a reminder that animation is the most liberating of movie genres, freed of gravity, plausibility, and even the matters of lighting and focus. There is no way that Syracuse could exist outside animation, and as we watch it, we are sailing over the edge of the human imagination".
Claudia Puig, reviewing for USA Today, summarized that "Sinbad is a swashbuckling adventure saga that probably will appeal more to older kids. But it's not a wondrous tale. The effects are competent, the action has exciting moments and the story is interesting enough, but the parts don't add up to a compelling sum." Todd McCarthy of Variety opined that "A passably entertaining animated entry from DreamWorks that's closer to The Road to El Dorado than to Shrek, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas tries too strenuously to contemporize ancient settings and characters for the sake of connecting with modern kids." Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times panned the film suggesting the film featured a "boatload of celebrities slumming through another not-quite-thawed adventure story." Additionally, he claimed "More thought and care were lavished on the design of the monsters than on the hand-drawn lead characters, who have the same kind of sketchy features as the stars of those animated Bible story cartoons sold on late-night infomercials."
There was additional criticism for the film's departure from its Arabic origin. Jack Shaheen, a critic of Hollywood's portrayal of Arabs, believed that "the studio feared financial and possibly political hardships if they made the film's hero Arab", and claimed that "If no attempt is made to challenge negative stereotypes about Arabs, the misperceptions continue. It's regrettable that the opportunity wasn't taken to change them, especially in the minds of young people". At one point, Shaheen asked Katzenberg to include some references to Arabic culture in the film. According to Shaheen, "[h]e didn't seem surprised that I mentioned it, which presumably means that it was discussed early on in the development of the film."
On the film's opening weekend, the film earned $6.9 million and $10 million since its Wednesday start. It reached sixth place at the box office and faced early competition to Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Finding Nemo, and Hulk. The week after its release, the similarly themed film Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl premiered, in which Sinbad grossed $4.3 million finishing seventh. The film closed on October 9, 2003, after earning $26.5 million in the United States and Canada and $54.3 million overseas, for a worldwide total of $80.7 million.
Following the film's box office run, DreamWorks Animation suffered a $125 million loss on other projects that weren't offset by Sinbad, leading Katzenberg to comment, "I think the idea of a traditional story being told using traditional animation is likely a thing of the past."
All music composed by Harry Gregson-Williams, except as noted.
|1.||"Let the Games Begin"||3:04|
|2.||"The Book of Peace"||1:41|
|3.||"The Sea Monster"||3:32|
|7.||"Eris Steals the Book"||1:53|
|13.||"The Giant Fish"||1:05|
|18.||"Is It the Shore or the Sea?"||3:28|
|20.||"Marina's Love / Proteus' Execution"||2:02|
|21.||"Sinbad Returns and Eris Pays Up"||7:45|
|22.||"Into the Sunset / End Credits"||2:22|
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