Genre: Fantasy Running Time: 1 hr. 45 min.
Release Date: April 5th, 1974 MPAA Rating: G
Director: Gordon Hessler Actors: John Phillip Law, Caroline Munro, Tom Baker, Douglas Wilmer, Martin Shaw, Kurt Christian
hile hovering over a seaborne vessel, a bat-like dragon is shot at, causing it to drop a golden bauble onto the deck, which Captain Sinbad (John Phillip Law) places around his neck. It seems to summon the apparition of a female mystic with eyes tattooed on her palms – along with a tall, foreboding sorcerer whose billowing cloak envelops her. That night, Sinbad’s ship is tossed toward rocks in a violent tempest before he manages to steer clear to the coast of Arabia.
When Sinbad swims ashore, he’s confronted by the dark magician Prince Koura (Tom Baker), and his faithful servant Achmed (Takis Emmanuel), who demands the amulet back. Sinbad flees into the gates of the city and the safety of the deceased sultan’s palace, where the grand vizier (Douglas Wilmer) informs him of the dangers of Koura and his mastery of the black arts. A cryptic nautical chart key (comprised of three golden tablets) holds the location of a powerful weapon, which beckons Sinbad back to the sea for an epic quest to the mythical island of Lemulia. When Koura’s homunculus spy betrays their mission to the evil wizard, a race is initiated, with Sinbad’s crew gaining a notable twosome – the lazy boy Haroun (Kurt Christian) and the slave girl Margiana (Caroline Munro), who coincidentally possesses a tattoo on her hand.
Law proves to be a much more authentic-looking Sinbad than his predecessor (Kerwin Mathews), boasting facial hair, a darker tan, and an overall more rugged, weather-beaten visage. He also wears a turban. He commands adjacent to the amusingly costumed vizier, brandishing a metallic helmet fashioned in the likeness of the bearded god Jupiter that hides his hideously burned flesh. And Munro, who recites her dialogue stiffly and inauthentically for the setting, displays plenty of exposed cleavage and midriff. Meanwhile, Koura’s body slowly decays as he’s consumed by his otherworldly alliance with the demons of darkness, like Dorian Gray’s portrait. There’s also a distinct seriousness – a welcome change – to the script that wasn’t as prominent in the previous outing.
Inescapable destiny, steadfast courage, and a little help from Allah supplement this adventurous second theatrical chapter in the legendary journeys of Sinbad the sailor (distributed by Columbia Pictures). Now produced by Ray Harryhausen, the master of stop-motion monster animation (Dynamation/Dynarama), “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” features several new, hulking behemoths that play magnificently with the live-action acting – the most memorable of which is the dancing, six-armed, sword-wielding deity statue. The dance demonstrates the remarkably fluid movement of the visually enduring technique, while the swordfight exhibits the effectiveness of choreographed interaction with the nearly seamlessly integrated models through close-ups, cuts, and intricate details. Colorful underground sets (reminiscent of “Journey to the Center of the Earth”), featuring the climactic Fountain of Youth battleground, are also grandly appropriate for the action sequences, highlighted by a duel between a stately gryphon and a hairy cyclopean centaur. The magnitude of the creatures and combat are unfortunately unable to match the first film, though this indirect sequel is still a highly entertaining production.
– Mike Massie
The Complete Ray Harryhausen