Arabian folklore meets Greek mythology in DreamWorks’ rousing animated swashbuckler, which pits Sinbad (Brad Pitt), thief of Baghdad, against Eris (Michelle Pfeiffer), Olympian goddess of discord.
With its swashbuckling action and blend of traditional and 3D computer animation, Sinbad most resembles Disney’s Treasure Planet — yet for once DreamWorks handily outdoes its archrival, with bravura action set pieces, a surprisingly complex romantic triangle, and an even more remarkably thoughtful exploration of moral issues and character.
The film opens with Sinbad and his pirate crew attempting to steal the Book of Peace, a magical McGuffin that brings prosperity and security to the Twelve Cities. Even when he discovers the book guarded by his childhood friend Proteus (Joseph Fiennes), Sinbad won’t relent — but then he runs into another obstacle that he can’t face, and walks away.
Yet the book is stolen anyway and Sinbad framed for the crime, and Proteus risks everything to give Sinbad a chance to prove himself a hero rather than a thief. Even then, Sinbad’s lower impulses dictate his actions, until Proteus’s fiancée Marina (Catherine Zeta-Jones) gives him a selfish reason to do the right thing.
Dazzling set pieces include a nerve-racking course through siren-invested shoals and a breakneck chase down a snowbound cliffside pursued by an angry roc. In this day and age, of course, eye candy is par for the course in big-budget animation. But how many cartoon swashbucklers ultimately come down to a soul-baring moral dilemma that exposes the protagonist’s weakness while offering a path to redemption through sacrifice?
(Written by Jimmy Akin) Treasure Planet is Robert Louis Stevenson meets George Lucas. More specifically, it’s Treasure Island meets The Phantom Menace.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.