The Golden Voyage of Sinbad
Our rating: three lava lamps.
John Philip Law (Barbarella) is Sinbad, daring captain of the seven seas. Sinbad becomes involved in the affairs of a country called Morabia when one of his sailors shoots down a tiny gargoyle that flies over Sinbad's ship. The gargoyle drops a big ugly gold artifact, and this being a movie made in the seventies, Sinbad decides to wear it on a chain around his neck.
As soon as Sinbad lands in Morabia he becomes the target of Koura (Tom Baker), an evil sorcerer. It seems the artifact had been stolen by Koura, and he wants it back. Before that can happen, Sinbad hooks up with Morabia's Vizier (Douglas Wilmer), who always wears a golden mask to hide his scarred face. The Vizier has two other gold artifacts that, when combined with Sinbad's, form a map that leads the way to the lost island of Lemuria. Sinbad agrees to take the Vizier to Lemuria, partly because he thinks there may be lost treasure on Lemuria, partly because he's up for any adventure.
And off we go. It takes a while for the heavy monster action to kick in, but there's plenty of it. We get to see the masthead of Sinbad's ship come to life, and a fight between a cyclopean centaur and a griffin. That particular fight comes out of nowhere, and the creatures look threadbare -- it's not Harryhausen's finest moment. The undisputed highlight of the film is a scene wherein Koura brings a six-armed statue of Kali to life, then makes it swordfight with Sinbad and his sailors. Now that's good watching!
If one person steals this movie from the hero, however, it's Caroline Munro. It's kind of strange that, despite the fact that she's the only woman on Sinbad's ship, somebody thought to bring along at least three changes of female clothes. All of the tops are at least two sizes too small for Munro -- not that we're complaining. It's also a bit odd that every time we see her reacting to something, they shoot her from the waist up -- again, no complaints here. And she leans over a lot. We're certainly not complaining about that! Munro is by far our favorite of the British scream queens. If all the scream queens were to get together in one room, all of the other women should lick Munro's boots. We're not speaking metaphorically, that's just something we'd really like to see.
Sinbad: Fill your heart with courage!
Haroun: My heart is filled with courage, but I have cowardly legs.
All of these things are merely the icing on the cake of Harryhausen's animation. In most Harryhausen films, the plot is merely something to be tolerated between animated sequences, but Golden Voyage is entertaining throughout. Sinbad knows that adventuring should be fun, darn it, and movies should be too.
Review date: 3/6/99
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* Okay, it's true that at one point the eye tattoo momentarily saves Sinbad's bacon, but it hardly justifies all of the other danger into which Margiana puts the adventurers. Go back!