Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003)

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Released 18-Nov-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Filmmakers Commentary
Featurette-Cyclops Island - Interactive Feature
Featurette-Making Of
Trailer-The Cat In A Hat
Gallery-Art: Characters, Monsters & Creatures, Chimera,
Gallery-Art: Journey To Tartarus, Syracuse
Featurette-The Voice of Spike
Game-Sinbad's Sailing Advenure, The 3D Tour Of The Chimera,
Game-Save The 12 Cities
DVD-ROM Extras
Featurette-Favorite Scenes
Biographies-Character
Web Links
dts Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 81:49
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Tim Johnson
Patrick Gilmore
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Brad Pitt
Joseph Fiennes
Michelle Pfeiffer
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Case ?
RPI $34.95 Music Harry Gregson-Williams


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Dutch Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Flemish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Dutch
English Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Sometimes you sit reviewing a disc, quite enjoying the film, but trying desperately to work out what you are going to write in the review. Most films are obvious for a variety of reasons, but every so often I hit one where my musings are not really related solely to the film but to matters surrounding the film. In this instance, we have a film that by all accounts did not really set the box office alight. In some respects the film reminds me of Treasure Planet which was also a film that by all accounts did not exactly set the box office alight. There are similarities with respect of the two films: both feature some of the best animation you will see, they are both big adventures that are really easy to sit back and enjoy yet both films would probably have worked equally well as live action, digital effects laden spectaculars. So why did they not do better at the box office? Are we losing the ability to sit back and just enjoy a simple adventure, are we incapable of enjoying animation? I really wish I knew what the answers were, for like Treasure Planet, Sinbad: Legend Of The Seas is a really enjoyable film featuring some stunning animation and there really is not a fat lot wrong to say about its presentation on DVD. I guess I am not the only person to ponder these questions, for the lack of box office success for films such as these must be driving the studio hierarchies round the twist! For what it is worth, I reckon that this is one of the most entertaining films I have seen for a while, and that is before even considering how good a piece of animation it is.

    Having reviewed most if not all of the live action Sinbad films that have been released in Region 4, I have to say that whilst it was a natural for me to review this animated film, there was also a degree of trepidation. The live action films had a certain style and connotation to them and would this modern, animated film be as in the idiom as it needed to be? Eighty five minutes later and the answer is a resounding yes! This is in every way a Sinbad film brought right up to date.

    The Book Of Peace is being returned to Syracuse under the watchful eye of Proteus (Joseph Fiennes). However, his ship is being shadowed by the Chimera, upon which we find Sinbad (Brad Pitt) whose sole intention it is to steal the Book in order to sell it to raise the necessary money for he and his crew to retire to Fiji. So Sinbad leads the attack, only to discover that his old friend Proteus is leading the opposition. Now that really would not stop Sinbad, but little does he know what Eris, the Goddess of Chaos (Michelle Pfeiffer) has in store. She too has designs upon the Book and will basically not be denied. Events don't quite go as she expects either and the end result is that the Book Of Peace is returned to Syracuse, suitably installed and protecting the Twelve Cities. Celebrations take place of course, where Sinbad meets the fiancée of Proteus, Marina (Catherine Zeta-Jones).

    During the night, the Book Of Peace disappears and everyone points the finger at Sinbad, but only Proteus believes that he did not steal the Book. After being arrested, Sinbad is sentenced to death but Proteus claims the right of substitution, placing his neck on the line whilst Sinbad has ten days to locate the Book and return it to Syracuse. He sets off on a mission that he has no intention of completing, but did not count on the presence of Marina.

    The story is fairly simplistic but that is part of the reason why the film is very much in the Sinbad idiom. Really the story is just a loose framework upon which are hung a series of fantastic encounters with all manner of creatures and amazing obstacles on the road to Tartarus and the Book Of Peace. But the story be buggered basically for what makes the film work is some of the most amazing animation you have ever seen. In particular the character of Eris, so terrifically voiced by a rather sensual sounding Michelle Pfeiffer, whose fluidity of motion just has to be seen to be believed in this animation. The world she lives in is staggeringly rendered, and is just jaw dropping at times. But stand out animation just abounds here, and amongst the very best you will ever see is the sirens on the trip through the Dragon's Teeth. Anyone with an appreciation of animation is going to find this an absolute treat and a half. Beyond the animation, the vocal talent is very good although the aforementioned Michelle Pfeiffer is by far and away the standout.

    A really enjoyable film that is realised in some of the best animation ever seen on the big screen. Well worth while having a look at this one.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Wow.

    That really is all there is to say about the video transfer. It will all be just a variation on that theme, whatever aspect of the transfer is being referred to. Almost perfect in every respect, DVDs just don't get much better than this - for the simple reason that so-close-to-perfection is pretty much impossible to top. The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    What can I say? The transfer is beautifully sharp, superbly detailed, clear as crystal and about as good as you could possibly wish for.

    The colours are quite amazing and really quite vibrant. The only time the saturation is let down is where it is deliberately done to highlight the "lighting" of the scenes. So basically we are talking perfection here.

    There were no MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There are no significant film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, with just a merest hint at times of something that could become aliasing it if was allowed to - which of course it was not. The end credits do suffer from Gibbs Effect. There are no film artefacts in the transfer.

    This is presumably a Dual Layer formatted DVD as I did not note any layer change during playback of the film.

    There are only two effective subtitle options on the DVD, being English and Dutch (available for both the film and the audio commentary). There appear to be no real problems with the English efforts, although the use of the American spelling of honour was noted.

    The only reason that this transfer rates five stars across the board is because I cannot give it six stars - but believe me it probably deserves the six stars. Stunning, superb, terrific, wondrous - just keep adding the descriptives here and they will all apply to this magnificent transfer.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are five soundtracks on this DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (terrific), an English dts 5.1 soundtrack (terrific), a Dutch Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a Flemish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (I don't recall reviewing a DVD before with a Flemish soundtrack) and an English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. I stuck with the three English soundtracks of course. Unfortunately, the audio transfers are just not quite in the same league as the video transfer.

    The music and dialogue comes up terrifically in the soundtracks. The audio sync was of course par for the course for an animated feature.

    The original music score comes from Harry Gregson-Williams who I would assume watched the live action Sinbad films as a reference. The score is very much in the same sort of fashion as the live action scores, but considerably better overall, lending superb support to the film and pushing along the epic scale at times. It suits the film very well.

    There is actually not a whole heap of difference between the two six channel English soundtracks. The Dolby Digital 5.1 is a wonderful piece of work, superbly clear and open. The surround encoding is subtle and natural, really amongst the best I have ever heard in an animated feature. Actually, it is better than most live action features too. When the action kicks in so does the low frequency effects channel with aplomb. Superb stuff indeed.

    The dts soundtrack is just about the same as the Dolby Digital soundtrack, with two distinct differences. Firstly it has noticeably greater body and presence than the Dolby Digital and secondly, the low frequency effects channel kicks in just a little too exuberantly at times. Most of the issue will be due to my innate aversion to bass emphasis, but I just felt that the mix was a little too reverberant at times. However, even I admit that this is but a minor quibble in an otherwise superbly clear and open soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Whilst there is certainly a lot included here on face value, there really is not a whole heap that is really essential and worthwhile. Personally, I think way too much of the package is aimed at the younger set, which truly diminishes the package completely. With such an amazing collection of animation work in the film, basically the whole package is just a bit of fluff aimed at the kids.

Menu

    Well done with excellent animation and audio, the only real issue being that the highlighters seem to suffer somewhat from dot crawl.

Audio Commentary - Tim Johnson (Director), Patrick Gilmore (Director), Mireille Soria (Producer), Raymond Zibach (Production Designer), Jennifer Nelson (Head of Story), Kristof Serrand (Animation Supervisor) and Damon O'Bierne (Layout Supervisor)

    Given that just about everybody barring the tea lady is included here, you have a classic example of way too many people involved in not an awful lot. Despite the film running only about 75 minutes without credits and given the number of people involved, it seems incredible that there are extended silences where no one has anything to say. It is decent enough but rather slow paced at times. If you have the subtitles on for the commentary, you will get the film subtitles whenever nothing is being said by the participants. Whilst the audio commentary subtitles are italicised as opposed to the film subtitles, it could get a bit confusing.

Interactive Featurette - Cyclops Island

    Given the number of places that it can be accessed from (I think it is three different places throughout the menus) you would have thought it was something spectacular. It is not. It is a modest little effort based on Krakatoa and you get to choose which character you want to follow in the story by selecting the appropriate icon when it appears. Technical quality is fine. The presentation is in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, it is 16x9 enhanced and features Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. All up there is about 4:15 of video, but the actual story runs for about 2:50 - the difference being the various bits to follow each character obviously. The branching of the video could perhaps have been a little better.

Featurette - Making Of (10:20)

    A wholly inadequate effort that is little more the EPK stuff - trying to cover the whole gestation and making of the film in ten minutes. Superficial in the extreme. It is presented in a Full Frame format that is not 16x9 enhanced, coming with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Technically nothing wrong with it at all.

Teaser Trailer - The Cat In The Hat (0:51)

    Obviously a film that many might well be awaiting, so here you get some teaser for it. A bit pointless if you ask me but then again you probably didn't. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, it is 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. As befits a film that has still to be completed, the technical quality is excellent.

Gallery - Art (5)

    Five different galleries covering Characters (9 stills), Monsters & Creatures (15 stills), Chimera (11 stills), Journey To Tartarus (6 stills) and Syracuse (20 stills). If we look at the equivalent sort of galleries on a release like Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, you get the picture as to how inadequate this collection is. These are sort of like a marshmallow on top of a mug of hot chocolate: a bit of fluff to indulge in prior to the main event. The only problem is we don't get the main event.

Featurette - The Voice Of Spike (2:56)

    This and the rest of the extras below are in the section called Dreamworks Kids. Of the stuff in that section, this is perhaps the most interesting, showing the search for the canine talent able to handle the role of Spike. Presented in a Full Frame format, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Technically there is nothing at all wrong with it.

Game - Sinbad's Sailing Adventure

    Well actually games would be more correct, as this overall game is split into three distinct parts: Maze Of The Granite Gates, Cetus Attacks and Harpoon The Giant Fish. Once you have done them once I cannot imagine that they would hold much fascination, but maybe I am wrong. For me they are just a plain annoyance that I would not go near other than for the fact that I have to check them out for this review. I really wish I didn't have to.

Game - The 3D Tour Of The Chimera

    As the name suggests, wander around Sinbad's ship to discover all about sailing ships and rummage around his cabin with Marina.

Game - Save The 12 Cities

    Another riveting game in which you have to match all the symbols in order to restore the Book Of Peace and undo the evil that Eris has wrought.

DVD -ROM Extras

    After the InterActual player installs, there is a selection of games and activities to be indulged. The games comprise Spike Saves The Day!, Reach The Realm Of Chaos, Grind The Granite Gates and Marina Sails The Dragon's Teeth. The point to most of the games escapes me and I have long since come to the conclusion that my brain does not work on the same level as anyone else's. I read the instructions, follow them but still don't seem to be able to achieve any successful conclusion. The activities are all printable efforts, with annoying and shameless promotion of Hewlett Packard products. The activities comprise Cyclops Island Printable Book, Cyclops Island Printable Game, Cyclops Adventure Maze, Cyclops Mask, Spike Mask, Sinbad And The Seven Seas Mobile, Eris' Zodiac Calendar and Coloring Pages (sic). All require Adobe Acrobat Reader. The operation of InterActual on my computer left a lot to be desired, crashing several times during the review of the extras.

Featurette - Favorite Scenes (sic)

    Split into five sections - Monsters, Gross Out!, Sinbad, Spike and Marina - these provide direct access to the appropriate scenes in the film as listed under each heading.

Biographies - Characters

    The available characters are Sinbad, Marina, Proteus, Eris, Rat, Kale and Spike.

Web Links

    Well actually just a page showing the address for DWkids.com...

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release comes out at pretty much the same time as the Region 4, but so far I have not located a reliable review to get the details of the extras on the disc. However, the extras would need to be substantially different to persuade a recommendation away from Region 4, which is unlikely to be the case.

Summary

    Sinbad: Legend Of The Seas is a really enjoyable film that has been afforded a superb video transfer and a near-superb audio transfer. The extras package is certainly extensive but frankly not much of it is truly essential stuff with too much emphasis on the stuff suitable for the younger viewer. The more I contemplate the extras package the more disappointed I am with it, given that is basically lacks anything truly worthwhile. Still, the film and transfers are well worth the money - highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Sunday, November 09, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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