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THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD ($25) isn’t exactly the greatest film for which Ray Harryhausen created the film’s special effects, but the movie does prove to be good fun and is something that fans of the master of stop-motion effects are certain to enjoy. The plot of THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD finds Sinbad (John Phillip Law) out at sea, where a strange flying creature drops a golden talisman onto the deck of his ship. Thanks to the masked Vizier of Marabia (Douglas Wilmer), Sinbad discovers that his talisman interlocks with another in the possession of the Vizier. Using the two thirds in their possession as a guide, Sinbad, the Vizier and the voluptuous slave girl Margiana (Caroline Munro) set sail on Sinbad’s ship to find the missing piece of the golden talisman, before it falls into the hands of the evil sorcerer Prince Koura (Tom Baker). It is Koura’s lust for power that drives him to possess all three pieces, because the sorcerer knows that the combined mystical powers of the talisman are all anyone requires to steal the thrown of Marabia.

The plot of THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD is rather thin, but it is all that is required to drive the characters to their encounters with Harryhausen’s stop-motion creations. In THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD Harryhausen brings to life the masthead on Sinbad’s ship, as well as a six-armed statue, a homunculus, plus a centaur and a griffin who do battle at the film’s climax. John Phillip Law does a good job fleshing out the film’s two-dimensional hero, while Caroline Munro’s ample endowments make her anything but two-dimensional. Fans of the long running British science fiction series DOCTOR WHO should get a kick out of seeing Tom Baker chewing on the scenery as the villainous Koura. The cast of THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD also includes Martin Shaw, Grégoire Aslan, Kurt Christian, Takis Emmanuel, John D. Garfield and Aldo Sambrell.

Columbia TriStar Home Video has made THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD available on DVD in both full screen and wide screen presentations on opposite sides of the DVD. The full screen version can’t be faulted, since this film was probably shot with television syndication in mind. Image quality on the full screen version is fine for anyone who is opposed to seeing black bars at the top and bottom of the image. Of course, the anamorphic enhanced wide screen presentation of THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD is preferable, since is more cinematic and the 16:9 enhancement does offer a higher resolution image. For the most part, the 1.85:1 presentation of THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD looks great on DVD. The principal photography is bright, glossy and very colorful. However, scenes where optical effects are applied are somewhat grainier and the colors don’t pop out quite so much. By the way, opticals include all of the fade transitions in the movie, as well as the sequences in which Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion effects are employed. Overall the image is pretty sharp and provides a nice level of detail. Flesh tones appear natural and the rest of the colors are nicely saturated, without appearing over-saturated. There are no problems with either chroma noise or bleeding in the image. Blacks accurately rendered and the level of shadow detail is respectable for a 1974 release. Digital compression artifacts maintain a low profile throughout the presentation.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack has some of the frequency limitations on associates with recording over a quarter of a century old. However, dialogue is cleanly reproduced and the soundtrack is worth amplifying for Miklós Rózsa’s fine fantasy score. All things considered, Rózsa’s score sounds pretty darn good- too bad the original recordings couldn’t be located. I’m sure the score would have sounded even better in stereo. A Portuguese language track is also encoded onto the DVD, are English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai subtitles.

The basic interactive menus provide the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as access to a number of supplements. Featurettes are provided for EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS, MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, and THE 3 WORLDS OF GULLIVER. Each runs about ten minutes and feature director Joe Dante interviewing Ray Harryhausen, who talks about how the effects were achieved for the films. It’s very cool stuff and its great to see a director like Joe Dante talking to a man that he obviously idolizes. Also included on the DVD are vintage advertising materials, a theatrical trailer, plus talent files.

THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD may not be the greatest film in Columbia TriStar Home Video’s Ray Harryhausen Signature Collection, but it entertaining and something that fans will definitely want to own. Personally, I am still looking forward to other Harryhausen classics like FIRST MEN IN THE MOON, EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS, MYSTERIOUS ISLAND and 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH to make their debut on DVD.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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