Recovering nicely from Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Dreamworks animation tackles the legendary pirate Sinbad (voiced slightly distractingly by Brad Pitt). This movie is animated, and it takes full advantage of the magic which can only be expressed through animation. With a nod to CGI’s mechanical advantages (and one jarring CGI/hand drawn blend early in the story), Sinbad rolls with the grace and delicacy with which hand-drawn animation still reigns supreme. It is a serious action movie, for starters, with, to be frank, majorly kick ass (no matter how insanely impossible) sequences and nonstop adrenaline. This ain’t Snow White!
SinBrad is so very, very macho, and with that comes a devil may care attitude, a general superiority over women (particularly his friend’s fiancee, Marina, sexily voiced by Catherine Zeta-Jones), you know, a pirate’s pirate, pirate about town. But for myself and my companion, the real star of the movie is the goddess of chaos, Eris, voiced equally sexily by Michelle Pfeiffer. My companion described her brilliantly as a post-modern Maleficent. Eris is the best character, the least predictable (appropriately) in the formula of human frailties that makes for legendary drama, and her animation is simply awesome. The IMDb does not specify each character’s lead animator, else I would be giving you his or her name here. Eris *makes* this movie.
The movie is so adventurous, it’s almost like a really good video game (and I shudder to think that that was on purpose) – each sequence is very exciting, the resolution is creative, and the segue to the next sequence is quick, painless, and visually exciting. Dreamworks, unconstrained by the Disney aura of old school respectability and, well, family friendly fare, is free to be a little more violent, a little more sassy and adult with its themes, and they even slipped in a couple of tasteless jokes (well over the heads of anyone who can’t yet ride a bike, well, except me). It was surreal but refreshing. Eris and the sirens can be more sexualized and more naked, and the payoff is something a little more believably seductive than chubby, bow-headed centaurs.
I’m not knocking Disney, mind you, but for an increasingly sophisticated audience, Dreamworks is keeping up. With the exception of Spirit, they have produced animated movies that dare to add a little complexity to their characters. Pixar also does this, I’m not saying it hasn’t been done; but adults who continue to eschew animation would do well to check out Dreamworks. This movie is an action movie before it is a character drama; this ain’t American Beauty, Ok, but it’s a very satisfying ride, with fantastic use of color and light and kinetic energy, and a pretty adult situation for our hero to resolve. Take a kid, they’ll thank you for it, and you will like it too.
MPAA Rating PG
Release date 7/2/03
Time in minutes 85
Director Tim Johnson, Patrick Gilmore